I Wish Someone Had Told Me the Truth

On May 12, 2014, I had a partial hysterectomy. The OB/GYN said that leaving my ovaries intact would delay the onset of menopause. By November 2014, all emotional and physical hell had broken loose. I was in full-blown menopause. From 2014 until 2019, my emotional, physical, sexual, and mental life was pure hell.

You see, until I began losing sleep due to waking up drenched in the middle of the night as if someone traced the outline of my body with a blow torch, what I’d heard from other women about “the change” were just complaints that older women made. They didn’t apply to me and my situation, until they did. No one told me, but it’s like puberty…for older women!

I suffered for five years. I packed on additional weight that I could not lose no matter what. I took prescription meds that were supposed to help me sleep through hot flashes at night but had me walking around like a zombie the next day practically drooling on myself. I bought every natural supplement known to man, drank nasty teas, ate things I will never eat again, did headstands, stopped wearing wool, let my perm grow out, and went natural.

You name it; I tried it. Nothing worked.

I tried meditating, but then became irritated that my brain would not slow down long enough for me to benefit from it. I tried being a vegetarian and then bulked up on the protein powders and additional supplements to make up for what I lost. I…tried…it…all, until my best friend told me about bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT) (a.k.a., pellets).

My former doctor was completely against it.

“They are not regulated by the FDA. Why would you want to inject animal estrogen/testosterone into your system? I would not recommend it, and I cannot write a prescription for it,” she said.

So, I listened to my doctor (who had not experienced any form of menopause); I dismissed the idea of HRT; and I continued to suffer and accept the prescriptions she wrote for me for diet pills, sleep (zombie) meds, etc.

But one day I said to hell with it.

In no way am I suggesting you do what I did. However, if I can get you to see there may be other options to relieve your menopausal symptoms, then I’m willing to put all my “hormonal business” out here in these streets.

Anita Charlot

Where were we? Right, I remember now. The brain fog is real!

I went to the endocrinologist on October 13, 2019. She asked a ton of questions, took vials of blood to do a series of tests, and ordered a mammogram. I also made an appointment with my primary care physician (PCP), who ordered my annual bloodwork and mammogram. Two days later, my PCP said all numbers looked fine and reminded me that it would be a good idea for me to work on losing weight and lowering my cholesterol.

On October 24, 2019, I went back to the endocrinologist, and in an instant my life changed. As she looked over my test results, she told me she had the answer to my menopausal discomfort; the migraines, sleepless nights, painful sex, brain fog, hot flashes, mood swings, and you guessed it, my weight gain. In less than twenty minutes, she identified the things that had plagued me for the past five years. Why the hell didn’t I go see her sooner? Oh right, my PCP told me not to.

Take charge of your own menopausal journey!

The inability to lose weight was due to an underactive thyroid. WAIT! Didn’t my PCP just tell me on October 15th that all numbers looked good? That everything was fine and just focus on losing weight and lowering my cholesterol? WTH?!?!? The endo also told me there was one thing to blame for the other menopausal challenges. My testosterone level was low.

I know what you’re thinking. Why would a woman need a high testosterone level? I was thinking the same thing; hell, I already have to pluck hairs from my chin and have my cheeks threaded along with my eyebrows. Why would I want to grow more unwanted hair?!? What she shared with me is that testosterone is the “feel good hormone,” and if it is low, it can cause all sorts of changes women may not be aware of.

The endocrinologist told me the normal level of testosterone for a woman of my demographic is 100, and mine was only seventeen! SEVENTEEN! Why didn’t my doctor know to test my thyroid? Why didn’t she think knowing my hormone levels would be helpful? There is a huge gap between seventeen and 100; no wonder I felt like I was losing it on the inside but needing to keep it all together on the outside.

Once we had the numbers, she inserted the right dosage of both testosterone and estrogen to bring my hormones up to the right levels, in my right hip, just beneath the skin’s surface. Your body naturally takes what it needs, which is great. It was one less thing I need to worry about. HRT is supposed to last between three to four months; however, my numbers were so low, and my stress level was so high, mine ran out before month three (stress will use up your pellets faster). Now that pellets are a part of my routine, I will never go back to not having them. She also put me on a daily thyroid prescription. The weight is still a challenge for me, and so I am now having additional nutritional tests done to see if there is a food sensitivity to blame.

Sis, the pellets were a game changer; they gave me my life back! No more headaches, no more painful sex, no more wanting to pick up a plastic utensil and “fork somebody up.” No more hot flashes, no more mood swings, less brain fog. The fact that my body doesn’t feel like it’s fighting against me anymore, gave me back the mental space I needed to “give everyone their shit back” and to focus on being mindful and present with and within myself every day.

I am fifty-five, post-menopausal, and I am finally learning how to navigate this life with confidence and calm, all while being in command of my emotions. It wasn’t easy, but it is a hell of a lot better than where I used to be.

Take charge of your own menopausal journey. Don’t wait five years like I did.


As a happily married dual-preneur that has been in the business of relationships for almost 30 years, Anita has helped hundreds of women at the top of their industry navigate their competing work and home responsibilities with confidence and calm, all while being in command of their emotions.

Follow Anita Charlot on Instagram: @anitacharlot

Follow Anita Charlot on Facebook: Relationship Advice w/Anita Charlot

Follow Anita Charlot on LinkedIn: @AnitaCharlot

Sign up to work with Anita Charlot: Relationship Coaching


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Product Review: Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow*

My husband gifted me with Coop’s Eden pillow at the beginning of 2021 to help alleviate my night sweats. As of today, I’ve been using this pillow for six months. Here’s my review.

What I LOVE: Coop makes a good pillow. According to their website, they produce brand new memory foam fill…that has been rigorously tested and certified by CertiPUR-US® to ensure safety and quality. When my pillow arrived, it was filled to the brim with said memory foam. The first night, I slept with the foam it came with. I like my pillows like I like my bed…soft, so this was too much. As per the directions, I removed the foam until it was to my liking. Hands down, this is the best pillow for sleeping. It is comfortable, and as the website says, the Eden pillow is best for stomach and back sleepers, of which I am the former. This pillow definitely feels different than the other ten dollar pillows I get from Target.

What is DISAPPOINTING: The Eden pillow doesn’t just come with regular memory foam. Coop uses some type of special gel to provide a more breathable sleep experience. The pillow does feel cool to the touch at first, but maybe I’m just too hot to handle or something. When I’m having an insomnia moment, I can feel the pillow losing its cooling effect. I’m not necessarily sweating (because I’ve gotten that under control), but the pillow doesn’t warm up, eventually feeling like all the other pillows—warm. A few people who gave the product three stars seemed to agree with me.

Overall: Coop makes a good pillow. If perimenopause or menopause has you losing sleep, the comfort of the Eden pillow may be useful. However, if you’re looking for something to keep you cool at night, this may not be the answer.

Buy an $80 Coop pillow.

Navigating the Change Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

*Coop didn’t pay me for this. I just want y’all to sleep better.


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Photo Feature: Li Volk

Li Volk

Li Volk (born 1969) is a representational portrait artist from Wuhan, China with a strong background in marketing and global relationships. Her art journey started at the prestigious academy of master artist Charles Miano in 2016. As a full time apprentice she received rigorous academic training in drawing and painting in the traditions of the old masters. Li’s portrait works express a strong sensibility and inner beauty that is beyond capturing the subject’s likeness. 

Follow Li Volk on IG: @livolkart

Follow Li Volk on FB: Li Jian Volk


Navigating the Change has partnered with photographer, Sorcha Augustine to curate images of women who are thirty-five or older being their full selves.

Sorcha Augustine is a dance and theatre photographer from Sarasota, Florida. She creates dynamic stage and promotional photography for performing arts organizations, as well as authentic portraiture of performing and visual artists, helping them communicate their skill, personality, and passion to their audiences.

Follow Sorcha on IG: @sorcha_augustine

Book Sorcha for your photos: https://sorchaaugustine.com/


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Wellness Wednesday: Turmeric-Based Grits

Shun P.’s grits are a remix on a comfort food classic, infused with the benefits of turmeric, garlic, and ginger (TGG) for a savory kick.

Turmeric-Based Ingredients: (2 servings)

  • *½ cup chopped turmeric
  • *½ cup chopped garlic
  • *½ cup chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower seed oil (or another high heat oil).
  • ½ cup of cold water
  • ½ cup of almond milk (or other milk substitute)
  • ½ cup of grits
  • 2 tablespoons of plant butter
  • ¼ teaspoon of sea salt

Directions:

Chop turmeric, garlic, and ginger. Blend in a food processor or something equivalent (e.g., Nutribullet).

Heat sunflower seed oil in a medium saucepan. Add the chopped turmeric blend to the hot oil and allow the mixture to caramelize. Add the water and bring to a slow simmer. Add almond milk.

Add the salt, vegan plant butter, and grits once mixture begins to simmer. Cover and stir occasionally for 12-15 minutes.

Let turmeric-based grits stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Pair it with your choice of protein, smothered or on the side.

I opted for a re-engineered family recipe and staple of many comfort food lovers, the salmon croquette, coupled with saltwater potatoes. 

*fresh turmeric, garlic, and ginger can be substituted for ground versions and sautéed in the pan.

Vegan-Bacon Garnish Ingredients:

  • ½ red onion
  • ½ red pepper
  • 2 slices of vegan bacon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Directions:

Coat pan with olive oil. Begin frying vegan bacon. Slice red onion and red pepper and sauté in pan.

Once vegan bacon is ready, cut into ½-inch slices and mix in a small bowl with the sauteed onion and pepper.

Be creative with how you garnish your turmeric-based grits!


Shun P. Writes was born and raised on Chicago’s northwest side. He is a writer, poet, and author of the series From the Water’s Edge: A Collection of Poetry Written While Wandering and the recipient of several awards from his narratives on the blog: Shun P. Writes…HERE! Dot Com


Podcast Review: Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause: Decolonizing the Crone

My sister texted me the Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause (BGGSM) podcast January 2021. I was complaining about my symptoms and a lack of resources. I’ve listened to Seasons 1 and 2, and here’s my take:

What I LOVE: Omisade Burney-Scott is a Black southern 7th generation native North Carolinian feminist, mother and healer with decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, philanthropy, and social justice.

In a world and country that centers everyone except the Black woman, Burney-Scott has curated a space that is not only necessary, but also nurturing.

I like this.

BGGSM feels like the fantastical mother, grandmother, aunt, and great aunt conversations I’ve had in my head. It’s what I’d think aging with a community of Black friends would feel like. Burney-Scott has brought Black women together to have honest and authentic conversations about what it means to be older.

One of my favorite episodes is called “Aperture: Leo Season,” featuring Lana Garland. In “Aperture,” Garland discusses her mother, her favorite aunt, creativity, and sex after fifty. It is one of the most liberating and naturally fun interviews in the series.

Season 3 is a Millennial Takeover, which is worth a listen if you’re born between 1981 and 1996.

What I don’t LOVE: The podcast is called Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause; therefore, when I first began listening, I expected conversations about menopause, especially because I was on the proverbial struggle bus. But as Burney-Scott explains during Season 2’s episode, “The Star of a Story,” this podcast is not designed to discuss the biology of menopause.

It is not all about hot flashes and mood swings.

The podcast’s primary purpose is to share specific stories about Black women, who identify as femmes, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary. Subsequently, an hour episode could include forty-five minutes or so of Burney-Scott conversing with a guest, who may or not identify as cisgender and fifteen minutes of convo about, for example, how consuming sugar may be the reason why your insomnia is keeping you up at night.

Overall: BGGSM is integral in a society that does not value Black women’s voices. However, if you’re looking for advice about how to get sleep at night and stop sweating…this podcast won’t fulfill that need.

Listen to Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause podcast.

Visit Black Girls’ Guide to Surviving Menopause website.

Navigating the Change Rating: FOR STORYTELLING?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Navigating the Change Rating: FOR MENOPAUSAL HELP?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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