I feel like I'm going crazy... or everyone else thinks I am.

by Heather
(USA)

I am a 45 year old wife, mother of two teenage girls, part-time CPA. I have been a regular, consistent exerciser since I began running with my parents more than 30 years ago. However, at the age of 40 I was going through the stressful time of building a house, selling one and moving, as well as turning 40. I suddenly and inexplicably began putting on weight that I have been unable to shed no matter what I do. I have been to 7 different doctors looking for help and they all seem to either think I'm lying about my exercise and diet or say I'm over 40, so just I just have to live with it. I use a BodyMedia, food scale and calorie tracker religiously to track my calorie intake and burn, all to no avail. Spreadsheets detailing all of this information reveals absolutely no correlation between calorie intake, exercise and change in weight. This in itself has been EXTREMELY frustrating, but I also experience other symptoms: insomnia every single night for 5 years, zero libido, water retention, constipation, anxiety, depression, unexplained high cholesterol, fatigue, foggy thinking, occasional hot flashes and night sweats, low blood sugar, plantar fasciitis, and very light and short periods, to name the most problematic ones.

The 6th doctor (the one I still see) put me on a low dose of Armour Thyroid. I lost a few pounds but symptoms returned. She increased my dose to a full grain and I lost a couple more pounds, the constipation went away, anxiety improved, sleep got better (although I still wake up I could at least usually go back to sleep after starting Armour. Sadly, that is getting worse again.), headaches became much less frequent. She has been terrified to increase my dose because my TSH is low, even though FT3 and FT4 are still a little low and I have absolutely no symptoms of overmedication. The other symptoms I listed come and go, but unfortunately, the insomnia is worsening, I still can't lose a single pound and have started to gain again, and still no libido. I am utterly depressed by my appearance and my quality of life is suffering. I have no reason to be sad in my life and every reason to be grateful, but I feel like a suffocating cloud is over me that has stolen the joy and optimism I used to have. I am extremely frustrated and disgusted by the medical practice in general. Most recent doctor prescribed birth control pills (really?) and Ambien, which hasn't worked for me at all. My kids are getting older as are my parents and I feel like I'm just missing out on all this time. My long-suffering husband wants to help me but I'm sure he's getting tired of hearing about it and dealing with the crying. I am afraid to start the birth control pills for fear of what it might do to my already suffering system. I hope progesterone cream will be able to give me some help because I feel like everyone else thinks I'm crazy! Thanks for listening. No one can really understand unless they have experienced this personally!

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May 05, 2015
I feel like I'm going crazy... or everyone else thinks I am.
by: Wray

Hi Heather You are in the middle of Peri-menopause which is an impossible time! It hit me hard when I was 48, but I'd been suffering several of the symptoms you have for years too. Luckily the progesterone helped me hugely, otherwise I'm not sure who I would have murdered! But I must warn you it's not an easy journey, too many failed attempts litter the internet and give progesterone a bad name. Most of people getting confused by the Oestrogen Dominance symptoms, thinking they are caused by progesterone. It took 6 months before all my symptoms and gone, looking back it would have been quicker if I'd used more progesterone. This is the reason I recommend higher amounts than the normal 20-40mg/day, at least 100-200mg/day if not more for very severe symptoms. We do have a few pages you could look through, Libido, Anxiety and Hot Flushes. The unexplained high cholesterol is easily explained, see here. And finally oestrogen causes an increase in fat cells, see here, here, here, here and here. I have done a page on insomnia, but not put it into code for a web page. It will make this reply very long, so please persevere! High cortisol at night will cause havoc with sleeping. Evening cortisol levels should be checked, as there seems to be a rise at that point in insomniacs. If cortisol is high, zinc can lower it, see here and here. Oestrogen if too high will cause insomnia, interestingly oestrogen suppresses zinc. High copper suppresses zinc and progesterone, but increases oestrogen levels. It seems oestrogen is to blame for so many problems, but with good reason. Insomnia is but one. One adverse affect it has is it stimulates glutamate. This is our most excitatory neurotransmitter, see here. Oestrogen also destroys beta-endorphin neurons in the brain, these produce endorphins which promote a feeling of well being and relaxation. And it increases free radicals, see here. The paper says "This loss of opioid neurons is prevented by treatment with antioxidants indicating that it results from estradiol-induced formation of free radicals". Insomnia has been linked to inflammation, the end result of excess free radicals, see here. Progesterone protects against glutamate toxicity, it also increases BDNF (brain-derived neuroptrophic factor) in itself protective, see here and here. If glutamate is too high, it allows calcium, an excitatory mineral, to enter the cells. This only makes matters worse, see here, here and here. Progesterone also protects against calcium induced excitotoxicity, see here. High glutamate will have a similar affect to high cortisol, making one wired and tense, it will be impossible to sleep with a brain firing at too rapid a rate. And if calcium is high this would imply magnesium is low, it certainly helps relax. Or it could be dopamine is too low. Stress depletes dopamine, leading to depression and a rise in cortisol and prolactin, the amino acid tyrosine reverses this. But the rate limiting step in dopamine synthesis is the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase. Insufficient levels of vitamin D inhibit tyrosine hydroxylase, resulting in a disturbance in the dopamine pathway. The dopamine pathway requires the progesterone receptor. There appears to be evidence that dopamine is involved in regulating the sleep–wake cycle, see here. High levels of dopamine will also disturb it. There is also other evidence that adenosine is involved in the sleep/wake cycle, see here, here, here, here. High neuronal activity increases levels of adenosine, which then promotes sleep. But if neuronal activity was stuck in the on position, i.e. something was over riding the adenosine, or it's effect, insomnia would result. Could it be oestrogen, as progesterone increases levels of adenosine, see here. One interesting fact, and of possible significance, more women get insomnia than men. Women make far more oestrogen than men do. Or maybe it's a lack of nitric oxide (NO), also essential for sleep, see here. NO is made endogenously from nitrates found in food, and from the amino acid arginine, but a major source is the direct affect the sun has on our skin. The action of sunlight triggers the release of NO which is then absorbed through the skin. It's essential to get enough sun. Insulin Resistance is also associated with insomnia, see here. Any stress stresses the adrenals. These need sodium to function normally, so a lack of salt can cause insomnia, see here. It's a long article, but if you put 'salt' into 'find' you'll pick up the passages where salt is mentioned. This is an excellent, albeit long paper on sleep here. It states "In insomnia, which is a very common sleep disorder, objective sleep measures, EEG activity, physiologic findings, HPA axis activity and inflammation markers suggest that it is not a state of sleep loss, but a disorder of hyperarousal present both during the night and the daytime." Which fits all the above, the emphasis being on 'hyperarousal'. So if you think any of the above fits, or want to try the nutrients, I suggest you first have a vitamin D test done to find your level and to determine how much to take to bring it up if low. The most important cofactor for vitamin D is magnesium, a low level affects the efficacy of vitamin D. But a low level of vitamin D reduces the benefits of progesterone, circles within circles. Magnesium relaxes, it helps sleep too, see here, but above all a lack of vitamin D itself can cause insomnia, see here and here. Progesterone helps sleep too, it also helps relax and calm us, see here. So what's causing the insomnia? Is it high cortisol in the evening, low zinc/high copper, or high oestrogen/low progesterone, low vitamin D, low magnesium, low tyrosine, low dopamine/high dopamine, low sodium, a lack of antioxidants, low NO, low adenosine, IR, all of these or none of these? It's like looking for a needle in a hay stack, which one of the above could it be, if any, or maybe a bit of all! Take care Wray

May 05, 2015
I feel like I'm going crazy...or everyone else thinks I am.
by: RJ

Hello Heather!
Get rid of your doctors and listen to Wray. If you are not the cookie cutter patient and have symptoms outside of the box doctors don't take the time necessary to research what will really help you. Instead they start pill pushing until, hopefully, one of the pills gives you relief. And most do not believe in natural remedies as it keeps them from living in extremely large homes with very expensive vehicles. Don't get me wrong some are very good and care but have you ever tried finding a needle in a haystack? Anyway Wray is God's gift to hormonal, suffering women. Take the plunge, get Natpro and start at 400 mg a day and don't stop till you come back to some normalcy then you can gradually reduce till you find your level. Depending on how estrogen dominant you currently are you could feel results immediately or it could take quite some time. Read Wray's site as there is a wealth of information for all of your ailments you list. I started three years ago, take it non-stop and still have issues that come and go. I take 400-1,000mg a day, depending on my stress level, which normally runs high. I wish you the best and welcome to Peri-menopause! God Bless! RJ

May 06, 2015
Thank you
by: Heather

Thanks to both of you for your encouraging words! I will definitely be checking all the links you included. I am currently supplementing zinc, magnesium and vitamin D. My test result from 2014 showed 32.9 ng/mL for vitamin D, but I have only recently started these supplements. I also take selenium with my thyroid meds as I had read it helped with absorption. My husband thinks I am taking every supplement known to man! Thank goodness he has a sense of humor. I'm very excited to give the progesterone cream a try as everything I've read leads me to believe that this may be my main issue. I am willing to give it a good long time to work. Again, thank you for listening and encouraging - I really needed it!

May 07, 2015
Thank you
by: Wray

Hi Heather Your vitamin D is very low! It would be fine for the UK who set their standards very low, i.e. 30ng/ml, the FDA believe it should be 50ng/ml. Whereas specialists are now suggesting levels between 70-100ng/ml, I certainly favour the latter as I've seen the benefits in myself and others. I do hope you're taking enough vitamin D, at least 5,000iu/day, although I feel you'd benefit from taking 10,000iu just to get your level up quickly. I'm glad you're taking the selenium, but it doesn't help thyroid meds to be absorbed. What it does do is convert T4, which is not very active, into T3 the active hormone. Without selenium this won't happen, it's a vital co-factor. One thing I didn't mention was your weight gain, it would have made my answer too long! Oestrogen is the culprit, certainly in peri-menopause, see here, here, here, here and here. When starting progesterone it can and does stimulate oestrogen, which can cause weight gain. The web is littered with failed attempts at using progesterone because of the weight gain. All of these people used too low an amount, and probably had very low vitamin D too, this also causes weight gain, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Continued below

May 07, 2015
Thank you
by: Heather

Hello again. I am taking 10,000 IU daily Vitamin D at the moment. Since I can't get a doctor to help me, I have been relying on the massive amount of reading I've been doing to guide me. I do hope that I can do this without gaining more weight as that would surely send me even further into depression! It really is affecting my life negatively as I am much less likely to do things that I would normally do because I am too unhappy to shop for clothes to fit but I'm also so sick of being frumpy. I dread having to go out in public. I have truly never been a vain person (I know it doesn't sound like it), but the person I see now just isn't the person that I am. Feeling this way also makes me feel shallow and petty but I can't seem to help it. We have another big family vacation planned next May and I can't bear the thought of spending another one being afraid to put on a bathing suit! I plan to try starting out with 400 mg a day for as long as I can afford it. I feel that sleep will help me as well. Lord, how I look forward to a good night's sleep. I truly appreciate the personal interest you have taken in helping me and I am feeling optimistic about making some progress again. That is progress already.

May 08, 2015
Thyroid Meds
by: Heather

I am desperate to get to the root of my problem. If the problem is a progesterone deficiency, now I am terrified that I have messed up my thyroid by taking the NDT. It has without a doubt helped some of my symptoms but have I now caused my own thyroid to be unable to produce its own hormones if it wasn't the actual problem all along (and it was actually healthy)? Will I be able to come off these thyroid hormones eventually or is my thyroid going to "forget" to make them now that it hasn't had to for over a year? How will I know when I am able to stop using them? Thanks again for all your help.

May 13, 2015
Thank you
by: Wray

Hi Heather I understand how you feel, I don't think it's vanity either, if we don't feel well it's difficult to remain positive. And being overweight is not healthy. So it's essential not just for your mental health, but physical health too that you regain your previous weight. I also hope you get a good night's sleep. Please don't rely solely on the progesterone, keep looking back through the list of possible causes I've given above. For some odd reason Part 2 of my reply above never came through. It's all about the ketogenic diet which might be just the thing you need to kick start your weight loss. I'll paste it here……….

Hi Heather Forget counting calories, count carbs instead. I suggest you look into trying the ketogenic diet, these are some websites on the subject, here, here, here, here, here and here. There are other similar diets you could look at too, here, here, here and here. Take care Wray

May 13, 2015
Thyroid Meds
by: Wray

Hi Heather I'm really puzzled why you're so worried. No one can tell what's wrong with them unless they experiment with various natural treatments. Or go to a doctor for extensive tests. You say the meds helped you so that's wonderful. The web is littered with people worried they are using too much progesterone or shouldn't use it, as it will stop their ovaries and adrenals etc making it. It's always best to come off any meds, whether natural or synthetic, slowly. Even coming off HRT it's advisable. Although safe to go cold turkey, it's most unpleasant! Take care Wray

May 13, 2015
Confused about how to proceed
by: Heather

Hi again! It wasn't you who confused me. It was just reading about the fact that heavy periods are sometimes a symptom of progesterone deficiency and mine are anything but. It made me wonder about the birth control pills. I also wasn't clear on what days to use the cream. I became concerned about the thyroid meds, and I also thought that maybe more information (like test results, even though they are old) would be helpful. The (many) questions I listed in this section were just things that I have been thinking about since you answered me and I decided I should seek clarification. My original question was this: http://www.progesteronetherapy.com/i-feel-like-im-going-crazy-or-everyone-else-thinks-i-am.html#comments

As you can see, I get plenty of vegetables and fiber. Most of what I eat is low carb naturally. If I do eat something that is high in carbs (like the oatmeal I like so much), I make adjustments to account for it. I don't eat much processed food anymore, but I would never say I had cut it out completely. I do have an iron self-control (that I inherited from my dad and that has been honed by desperation!) that helps me stick to the diet. Fortunately, I really like veggies but I don't eat much meat. I can eat chicken or steak but it's difficult. Chicken is the protein I add to my salad most days.I simply can't get eggs down my throat.

Anyway, this particular message was just for clarification, to add more information and to ask some other questions I should have asked initially. I don't expect progesterone cream to make me lose weight, but I am hoping that it will help me in that regard along with resolving some of the many other symptoms. I simply can't find any other reason for the inability to lose weight other than some kind of hormonal issue, and in light of the other symptoms I really think I'm on the right path.

Thanks so much for taking the time to try to help me. The frustration I feel at all the doctors I've seen is easier to bear knowing there are others out there who are actually willing to listen and to help you figure out what the problem is. You wouldn't wish this on anyone, but it also helps to know that others are experiencing what you are and you're NOT CRAZY!!

May 13, 2015
Confused about how to proceed
by: Wray

Hi Heather I've pasted your other new comment here, so that I can make sense of it in light of my previous replies, and your queries. Take care Wray

May 13, 2015
I feel like I'm going crazy...
by: Heather

Sorry, Wray! I'm not worried about trying the progesterone cream at all. I just want to do it right. I am a little concerned about having taken thyroid meds if they weren't really necessary though, and I don't want to continue taking them if I don't have to. However, I plan to take the time I need with the progesterone cream to see how it affects me and I assume if I am able to come off the thyroid meds eventually, I will know it. I just don't want to have messed up my thyroid by taking those meds trying to remedy a different hormonal imbalance that I didn't know I had. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new trial helps me.

May 13, 2015
I feel like I'm going crazy...
by: Heather

I am very good at being confusing! Thanks for taking the time to try to figure it out!

May 13, 2015
Symptoms Part 1
by: Wray

Hi Heather I'm not sure how it happened but I see I haven't published this comment of yours. I'm pasting it below......

Hi. Wray, you have answered me already about my symptoms. After all my reading I am beginning to get confused. My symptoms are insomnia, inability to lose weight with diet and exercise, serious fluid retention, complete loss of libido, fatigue, mild brain fog (I say mild, but it could be that I have just become accustomed to the brain lapses and the need to get people to start the conversation over because it took me a moment to begin paying attention), depression, occasional anxiety and headache, high cholesterol, plantar fasciitis, recent diagnosis of gluten senstivity, low blood sugar, weak nails... and then some. Now I don't experience all of these symptoms all the time except for the insomnia, weight gain, fluid retention and nonexistent libido. I also occasionally have hot flashes. Now, my question is this - if most of these symptoms reflect a progesterone deficiency or estrogen dominance, why do I have periods that are very light and short? Frequency is also changing from a fairly steady average of 26-28 days to an average of 32 days, sometimes as long as 33, 37 or even 42 days!I am confused about what this says about the state of my hormone balance and what it means to how I will use the Natpro when it arrives.

For further information, I am currently taking one grain of Armour Thyroid daily. My supplements include magnesium, zinc and vitamin D (10,000 IU daily). I did have that tested and it was low in 2014 (32.9 ng/mL). My hormones were tested more than 2 years ago. The results were these: free testosterone 15 pg/ml; estrone 50 pg/ml; estradiol 5 pg/ml (luteal); estriol 11 pg/ml; progesterone 246 pg/ml. At the time these were tested, the weight was the most noticeable symptom; my symptoms have since increased in number, frequency and level of disturbance. Unfortunately I don't know what my numbers would be now, but I was told this was all OK. Of course, that it what all 7 of the doctors and nurse practitioners I've seen have basically told me. Not one of them has attempted to pursue further hormone testing or give me any help other than to offer birth control pills and anti-depressants.

May 13, 2015
Symptoms Part 2
by: Wray

Also, I follow a very similar diet daily including either oatmeal, veggie sausage and cheese or grits for breakfast. Lunch is almost invariably salad in which I diligently measure each ingredient and include some form of protein. For supper I tend to eat broiled vegetables or the occasional tortilla chips with cheese and salsa. As you can see, my diet is not perfect. I do drink coffee daily with sugar free creamer or half and half and on holidays and birthdays I enjoy real food. I do want to enjoy life after all! I have a soda maybe once a week or less and live on water or flavored water the rest of the time. Snacks are usually plain almonds or gluten free crackers (in moderation as I'm watching my carbs). As I've said before, I weigh and track all of my food so even if I allow myself a treat I do adjust for it on that day. I don't have a perfect diet by far, but I do better than I have ever done in the past. I offer this as information to maybe help you understand my situation. I'm trying so hard to do all the things the websites and doctors preach relentlessly (and I'm SO SICK of hearing!) - whole, fresh foods, consistent and varied exercise, plenty of water, blah blah blah and all to no avail. I think I need some kind of intervention and the medical field is woefully inadequate to help me (apparently).

So... do I use the cream daily or just at the end of my cycle? With my cycle being somewhat erratic, how can I tell when the last 12-14 days is (barring daily temperature and other equally irritating steps)? How much do I use? Do I need more estrogen? Should I take the birth control pills I have been prescribed? Why are my periods so short and light if my estrogen is OK?

I am SO SORRY for being so long-winded and asking so many questions. I realize you don't want to give medical advice but I feel that my cat could hardly do worse than the doctors I've seen!! Frankly I just don't know where else to turn right now. I can't go on suffering like this indefinitely, just hoping things will get better, as my doctors seem to think I should. I greatly appreciate any advice you can give me.

May 13, 2015
I feel like I'm going crazy...or everyone else thinks I am.
by: RJ

Hello Heather!
Just my thoughts...Wray help me out here....where is your protein source? It sounds as though you are not getting enough calories or the proper ones which will retain any weight you want to lose. Also, where is your iodine source coming from? Low iodine will cause lots of trouble with your thyroid and thus your weight. Sadly, Heather, you are 45 years old...right smack in peri-menopause and as hard as you try to change those things you do not like, your body isn't going to let you do it and will resist you terribly. It is just the facts of life and can be so very frustrating. Think how we suffered through puberty...now our bodies are reversing the process yet again on us. Even years ago when I went to a whitecoat ob/gyn I remember him telling me get your weight off now because once you pass 40 it will never come off. How little I understood that back then, but do now. It has taken over three years for some "normal" balance to come back to me, but it still isn't right...it's a double edge sword...you try to get balanced and then stress out because you can't, which throws everything off kilter and you are in a constant state of stress where nothing is going to change. I used to weigh right at 300 pounds, once I took the carbs out and ate meat and veggies, and protein shakes I am down to 260. Still alot but I don't stress as much over that any longer...I can't. I like my food and am an anytime eater...happy, sad, stressed, tired, wired, angry...I eat with any emotion lol, I'm Italian...pasta and breads. Try boron for your nails and make sure you take vitamin K2 with that D3 or you will have trouble down the road. God Bless! RJ

May 14, 2015
I feel like I'm going crazy...
by: Heather

Thanks so much, RJ, for taking the time to reply to me. Most of my protein comes from baked chicken, veggie sausage/burgers and protein shakes. I am already eating low-carb by living on salad and vegetables. I do eat fruit but only occasionally. If I do have something with more carbs in it, I adjust for the rest of the day to keep my total carbs in line. I was on the strictly low-carb high protein liquid diet that is supervised by a local hospital (have to check in every week, etc.) at the recommendation of my family doctor. I did manage to VERY SLOWLY lose a few pounds on that diet, but I was not willing to continue that low-calorie plan or keep paying the high price for it. Even those people were confounded by how I wasn't losing much weight since I was also exercising. I have also already tried the eat-more-calories thing. I gave that four months and all I did was gain 10 more pounds, even eating the same healthy foods! It just isn't reasonable. My stress level is not high (I work part-time from home and have a stable and loving family). I do supplement iodine with kelp but rarely mention that because many people believe that to be dangerous, especially with a thyroid condition.

I simply CANNOT accept that because I'm over 40 I will never be able to lose this extra weight. I'm not saying that I'm huge, but I can't fit into my regular clothes and I really don't like what I see. This simply is not who I am. I'm already fairly tall at 5'9" so sometimes I feel like a freakin' Amazon woman. If I accept that this is just how it is, my depression will take over my life. Believing that I will make progress is the only thing that gets me up to work out every day. I used to like working out just for the sake of working out but it's starting to feel more like a chore. Even taking the occasional break and giving my body complete rest doesn't help. Believe me, when I say I have tried everything, I mean I have tried EVERYTHING, outside of weight loss drugs and crash diets which I have no interest in doing. And when I say I tried it, I don't mean I gave it a couple of weeks and gave up; I mean that I tried it and I'm STILL doing it. I don't struggle with temptation. As I said before, I really do have an iron will and I am desperate. Cheating on a diet just isn't worth it to me. I do allow myself treats now and then, usually on someone's birthday or a holiday so I don't feel totally deprived and because I want to enjoy life.

Honestly though, if the progesterone cream can help with my other symptoms I will have to be happy with that for now. I'm sure no sleep is not helping me. I'll just have to carry on, praying and hoping that I'll have the strength to keep trying. If this doesn't work for me, I just don't know what else is out there to try. I am a generally optimistic person, but how much disappointment can one person take?! Lest you think I'm just a negative person, let me say that I am so grateful for the many blessings in my life and I look forward to things getting better... I just have to keep believing because giving up or acceptance just isn't an option. Thanks so much!

Jul 16, 2016
Heather
by: Anonymous

This is very late comment. But from yur labs, your estradiol is 5. YIKES! Waaay too low. Should be around 50 at least, maybe more depending on how you feel. In every case you need progesterone, either alone or to balance the estradiol. For me, I needed progesterone in higher doses for 3 months. If I didn't drop dose before three months I got severely depressed. I went thru that twice and my husband had exact same response at his dose. But you need estrogen! Find a doc who will work with you on that. Patches provide benefits at much lower doses. I hope you have already figured this out. Even if you are on estrogen AND progesterone, keep reading here--best site you will find.

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