Archive for March, 2011

I haven’t added any new posts in a while because I had no new information. But for those of you still struggling with this problem, I now have an interesting insight that may or may not be helpful in your (and your doctors’) quest for quiet in your brain.

For those of you who don’t know, I have been struggling with the stuck music, or what I call auditory memory loops (AMLs), for going on 12 years now, ever since I went into menopause. After a solid year with multiple songs, words, and phrases constantly playing so loud I couldn’t hear my own thoughts, couldn”t sleep, and never having one minute of quiet, I thought I would literally go insane.  (And some of you have it much worse than I did!)

My solution for most of this time was to keep my hormones (progesterone and testosterone specifically) so low that the AMLs kept quiet. And for over 10 years I did not listen to the radio.

The (HUGE) downside to this was that I had not felt alive in 12 years. My creativity (I’m a writer) and my sex drive (I’m a human being) were gone completely. All my passions were gone. I could not truly feel the pleasure of a good movie or music or a visit with friends and loved ones. I knew intellectually that these things were pleasurable and I could say that I enjoyed them, but I couldn’t actually feel that enjoyment. And I hated this state. But the alternative was to feel alive and be tortured by that insane racket in my head. So I chose the state that allowed me to remain functional, even though it left me dead inside.

Throughout the years, I’ve discovered that taking the antidepressant Wellbutrin would also turn on the AMLs. Interestingly, Wellbutrin had many of the same effects on me as testosterone, including increasing my creativity and sex drive and decreasing my appetite.

But just in the past 3 months I have developed a new hormone regimen that gives me back my aliveness, my creativity and passion, without provoking the AMLs.

How my discovery might affect your individual cases, I don’t know, but here’s what I’ve got…

I had previously been taking a fairly steady low dose of both estrogen and progesterone, and that was sufficient to give me relief from menopausal symptoms and support my brain enough that I could function and do my job.

But I was curious about a certain protocol that mimics the normal 28-day cycle of hormones that would be seen in a woman of reproductive age. It is based, in part, on the fact (which I still have to confirm and understand from my doctor’s recommended textbooks) that our bodies (at least females) need a certain spike or a high enough level of estrogen in order to either make or open or sensitize our cells’ progesterone receptors.

I wondered whether my low, steady dose of E might have been too low to do whatever the E spike does to allow my body to use the P that I was taking. I wondered if some (or all) of the negative symptoms I was experiencing might be related to having a bunch of progesterone floating around in my system that wasn’t able to plug into the cells and turn on the desired actions. 

So in December of last year (2010), I started an experiment. I decided to use the same principles as the 28-day protocol, but instead I decided to do it over 2 weeks instead of 4.

Now, in the normal cycle, for the first half of the month, E sharply rises, hitting its peak on day 14, when ovulation occurs (when testosterone also peaks, causing a woman to feel more romantic in order to make a baby). After ovulation, the E drops off a bit and the ovary begins to produce a lot of P for 2 weeks. In the middle of that 2nd half of the month (around days 19-21), there’s a little extra bounce of E. After that, both E and P drop off for the rest of the month (assuming no pregnancy). Then you get your period and the cycle starts over. 

So in my mini-cycle, on Day 1 I take a double dose of E. I give that a day to get into my system, theoretically making/sensitizing P receptors. Then on Day 2, I take another dose of E to simulate the mid-cycle spike of E, and I add my dose of P for the cycle.  Around Day 6-7 I start to feel some low-E symptoms, so I add another dose of E, which simulates the little E bounce. Then I let the levels of both just drop off for the rest of the cycle.

What has happened as a result is that:

  • I have started to feel alive and creative again. My passions are back!
  • I no longer get the little rash on my face that I would get when I’d take my progesterone each week.
  • I no longer get the red, itchy allergic reaction to my estrogen patches.
  • And most important to all of you…I can now listen to music all day long and it doesn’t get stuck in my head!!!

So for you women, I might suggest that you and your doctors look at whether you are getting that E spike in your cycles. (Or if you are menopausal, you could try my HRT protocol.)  My 27-year-old daughter started having AMLs and I’ve wondered if it was because her birth control hormones had her on a relatively steady dose of E, taking away her normal E spike.

For you men, I don’t know how to leverage my discovery to help you, since although you do make estrogen,  I seriously doubt that you have anything remotely like an E spike or even a hormonal cycle of any kind. But my doctor did say that both progesterone and testosterone work better in the presence of estrogen. So maybe you and your doctors might want to consider looking at your hormone levels (estrogen progesterone and testosterone).

Normally, your doctor would think nothing of unusually low E levels in a man (if the doc even tested for E), thinking that it’s probably better if they are low. But what if your E levels are really too low to open/sensitize your P or T receptors, and your P and/or T are floating around without a home and are doing things they shouldn’t?

It is possible that my cortisol theory may still be in play here somehow. If the lack of an E spike (or a sufficient level of E) prevents P from plugging into receptors for the sex hormones, it may be that the P is then even more likely to attach to the receptors for the corticosteroids like cortisol and adrenalin and turn on the production of those hormones instead.

I will have to dig into those med school textbooks my doc recommended to find out what the actual mechanisms at work are in both men and women…assuming they are even known.

Meanwhile, I have ordered several over-the-counter hormone saliva tests. Now that I’ve settled into a hormone regimen that seems to work and is repeatable, my doc and I want to know how my unusual use of these hormone products translates into hormone levels in my system at key points in the mini-cycle.

We’re completely off the map now, charting new territory. I just hope this ends up helping some of you to stop the noise in your heads and get back to a normal life.

To peace and quiet!

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