ADHD and Hormone Replacement Therapy
In this episode I chat with ADHD coach Elizabeth Brink about hormone replacement therapy and ADHD. Elizabeth discovered she had gone into early menopause after coming off birth control. Rather than planning her third child Elizabeth found herself struggling with an increase of ADHD symptoms.
Diagnosed with ADHD as a child, Elizabeth now helps other ADHD moms learn skills to manage their lives. On Monday, Elizabeth spoke on self-trust at the ADHD Women’s Palooza. Catch the replay here: https://fn101.isrefer.com/go/womenpalooza2021/snysarah/ (aff)
Topics: * ADHD * menopause * perimenopause * adult ADHD * motherhood * early menopause * periods * hormones * coping skills * mental health * anxiety * depression * older moms * older parenting
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The adulting with ADHD podcast is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see a medical professional if you think you have ADHD or if you have questions about your current treatment to support this podcast or to access the podcast archives visit patreon.com slash adulting with ADHD. This is the adulting with ADHD podcast self empowerment for people with ADHD. Today, I'm very excited to have with me Elizabeth brink. She is an ADHD coach and founder of thriving sister coaching. How are you doing? Good, it's so good to be here. We met on Twitter. And we've kind of chatted back and forth for a while. But this is the first time I'm actually talking to you. So that's exciting. Yeah, well, why don't you tell us a little bit about what you do as an ADHD Coach, what kind of work you've been up to
Thank you for having me. I work with women who have ADHD, I work with a lot of moms. But not just moms, I really focus a lot on helping to kind of rebuild the narrative retell the story of who they are, so that they can then get a little bit smarter about what they really need, or don't need in terms of structure or strategies or all of that stuff. So it's less about tips and tricks to survive this crazy world and more about learning more about yourself so that the decisions you make about what structures you put into place, have a greater chance of being successful.
You have ADHD as well as that, right?
I do. Yeah,
you know, I was gonna have you on today, because you were gonna tell us a little bit about your journey, especially within the context of hormones, which we've been talking a lot about lately on the show. And so I'm really excited to get into that. You mentioned you had early onset menopause. You want to talk a little bit about that, and how that played in with your ADHD?
Yeah, so I, I'm in my early 40s. And early menopause is genetic in my family. But it's not like a guarantee that, you know, you'll end up with it. So I just like hit the jackpot, I guess. So I have two young kids. And before I had them, I had three miscarriages before I had my my daughter. And we didn't really come to any conclusions on what was going on with that or why I was miscarrying. And then I had these two kids, basically back to back like 16 months apart, which I don't recommend, unless you really need to be sure you have another one, which was kind of how I felt. So after kind of the fog lifted, and I was able to kind of sort myself out, I felt like super overwhelmed. And you know, something's wrong, I either have anxiety, I have depression, I don't know, maybe I just don't really like motherhood, maybe I mean, just spinning around how hard the adjustment was. And, and in that also trying to kind of understand my ADHD in a new way. So I was diagnosed as a kid, probably about a decade ago, a little longer, it kind of resurfaced in an awareness for me. And so then entering into
motherhood was like, I guess that next stage of like, Oh, this is,
huh, what this means. So.
So I'm like, you know, overwhelmed. And then I get to this place where I'm feeling better about things and things are being managed a little bit better. And I have greater awareness around the overwhelm and the sensory sensitivity. And my husband and I were like, let's go ahead and try to have one more. So I'm one to five, my husband's one to four. And I think for me, I just felt like a like a whole family is a lot of kids. Yeah, no, I also had, like, deep sense that a lot of kids would be potentially disastrous for me, because of my anxiety and my ADHD. So we decided, let's just go for it. So we started to try and then the pandemic hit. And it was like, You know what, let's just not right now, let's not bring another life into this craziness. So basically, I had been on birth control, I stopped birth control. And then it was like, Okay, well, where's my cycle? Hmm. Okay, where's my cycle? takes a while for your cycle when you've been on birth control, so I'm just like chalking it up to this is normal, like, Okay, oh, this happens to some people who have IUDs. They, they end up with no period for a long time. Okay, maybe that's me. So, anyway, I had a period in May. And then because I have ADD, I wasn't keeping track. I didn't remember when I had my last cycle. And so it had been several months. I was texting with my sisters and was like, Yeah, I don't know, in the last time as I had, when was that, and I started looking through the calendar and I find the date and my, one of my sisters was like, Okay, my doctor really doesn't like me to go more than four months without a period. Good to know. And so I was like, Oh, I guess I should call my doctor. So I called. And they were like, Okay, well, let's just like do a let's like get you to start your period. So they give you progesterone. And they try to do you know, a quick start of your period. And
running an engine, right? Yeah. Like, it's, I
can't remember what it's called. It has some name that they call this like challenge that they do for your body. The progesterone trial, I don't know. So basically, it's supposed to mimic that part of the cycle that helps you to start your period. So I took this progesterone and I was supposed to start my period within like 10 days, and it did not start. And so I got bloodwork done. And yet my doctor called me and was like, Well, it looks like you're in menopause. Now the technical, you know, the technical barrier for saying it's menopause is one year without a period. Okay? However, because of my family history, knowing that several of the women in my family went through menopause, actually at 41, which is how old I was at the time. And because of my accounts from my blood work, my insight that I hadn't had it for
My doctor felt she felt confident saying, you know, yeah, I think that's what's happening here. So that's like a very long story. But that's what happened. And it was just last year, that I was like, oh, okay, so, Hi, I am now like, infomentor pause
in a pandemic.
That is incredible. I mean, when you think of all the challenges we're dealing with right now, and then all of a sudden, basically, your entire hormonal makeup just completely shifted. Wow. So what did that mean for ADHD? When that happened? How does that impact your symptoms?
So last summer, I actually went to see a new psychiatrist. Well, I didn't go anywhere. It was online. But I started seeing a new psychiatrist who really understands ADHD. And he's actually very helpful. Yes, yes. He also has a very holistic view on psychiatry, which has been so refreshing. And I feel like I found him serendipitously, it was not that calculated. But anyway, so he, I started seeing him last summer because I just felt like my ADHD is, is well managed, I mean, whatever, I still have a DD like everybody else who has it, but I'm managing and I felt like I was managing it, okay. But I was still dealing with a lot of like anxiousness and worrying, and I wasn't feeling like I could manage some of my overwhelm. And, and it was at certain times of the day, you know, it's like, end of the day kind of stuff. So I'm like, is this because my medications wearing off is this because something else is going on? So I was seeing the psychiatrist, and he started treating me for anxiety. And in getting onto that medication, it was right at the same time, that I was starting to, like, figure out like, Oh, I haven't had a period in a while. So all this kind of happened at the same time, where I was feeling like, the only way I can describe it is I was feeling very disconnected from the people around me. And I was feeling very distant mentally, so emotionally, too, but also mentally, and I was feeling very on edge and worried about stuff, but also just this like, almost like an apathy toward, like, my very young kids and my husband and just feeling very much like I would like you all to keep Leave me alone. And let me just be in my room, doing whatever I want to do for however long, which is also a mom thing. So again, I'm like, yeah, this is normal. Like all moms of young kids are like, please lock me in a room alone. You know, I'm like, my husband had to be quarantined for COVID at one point for exposure, and I was like, What is so unfair? I'd love to be isolated for 14 days with people bring me food. But anyway, um, so all of it was happening at the same time, and I wasn't sure what was hormones, what was mental health? What was ADHD, like, where all this stuff? So he at the time said, Okay, well let me know what comes out of this blood work and this exploration around the anxiety stuff. So that was helpful that he was really interested in connection there. And, you know, he talked to me about the importance of hormones in managing mental health for women. And so I was managing the anxiety around the end of the year when I finally learned like, Okay, this is what's happening with me. It was actually my psychiatrist who really said, You know, I really think
that you should consider hormone therapy. My ob gyn had mentioned it. And she had said, if you want to do it, let us know. And we'll get you that prescription. But he was talking to me about the prevailing sense of like very serious depression and actually like suicidal ideation in women around these large hormonal events, which we also know affects our ADHD, thinking about that, and having him say, uh, you know, he basically said to me, there's only so much we can do to support your mental health, if your hormones are that off. You're not going to get to this place that you are envisioning getting to. And you know, most women who go through menopause in their early 50s, or maybe later a little earlier, their kids are not usually this young. Oh, yeah. And so for me, I felt like having him say that, like this could actually be a really important piece of the puzzle for your like, overall mental health and well being really opened my eyes. And I was like, Okay, I'm gonna try this and see if it's, if it is a piece of the puzzle for me. Yeah, I can't even remember what question you asked, because I have a DD and I'm like, but
that's exactly what I was asking. And while you were while you were speak, it made me think about it. There's several reasons why we don't know enough about this. But it made me think that the women that this has been happening to they probably were, you know, dealing with either older kids, or they were empty nesters or whatnot. So it was even harder to you know, pick up on maybe, you know, retire whatnot. And so people like you and me, I think we're about the same age, I just turned 40 you're 41? Yeah, so you know, it makes me think we're both still working still very active professionals and young children. We're not going anywhere in 10 years, 20 years. So while you were talking like wow, this is a whole wave of women that are going to really get hit with this. So that's incredible that your your site is on top of.
Yeah. And there is a lot to say about like women around menopause with ADHD get diagnosis, because they are suddenly dealing with, you know, a lot more brain fog, a lot more memory challenges and fatigue, and all those things that you know, estrogen and progesterone and testosterone and all those good things that keep us you know, keep the train on the tracks, starts to affect them. But for women with ADHD, if it's undiagnosed, it can feel like you know, really serious mental health stuff is coming up for them. And it can also affect your mental health in that sense, too. So yeah, I mean, I think and that's partly why I also mentioned the miscarriages and the fertility stuff, because I think in hindsight, I now wonder if I was just perimenopausal early and did not know it. And that's why I was miscarrying. I mean, we'll never know. But it would make sense and, and in that sense, it's like, Wow, my kids are a miracle that they're here. But there's more than one of them.
These days, I've found myself needing quicker access to therapy, for the safety and comfort of my home. This is why I started using betterhelp for my immediate therapy needs, they will assess your situation and match you up with a licensed professional therapist, one who you're likely start communicating with in 24 hours or less, it's more affordable than traditional therapy and financial aid is available and can do it through text or chat if you don't like phone calls or video appointments to get started and to save 10% go to better help he lp.com slash ADHD adulting there's so much mystery
surrounding it. I'm reading a book right now, this is your brain on birth control by Dr. Sara Hill. And in it, it's like she's getting into the background of how birth control came to be in the research and everything. But the focus is has historically been on just getting us not pregnant. But there isn't a lot of research and all these nuances that you're talking about like perimenopause, miscarriages of emotional mental well being. And so it's really interesting to I love talking to individuals and getting their personal stories because it's almost like, this is like one of the few ways we have of getting data at this point.
Like this is the research thing, because it's why I love that you have been focusing on this so much because most women don't know anything about their bodies. And, you know, don't ever learn how to track their cycles to notice their moods and their feelings in their bodies and their energy and all of those things. It's like we should be learning this in elementary school. When we learn about pads and tampons. We should be learning that our cycle and our hormones affect our mood and our energy and all of these things. I have had more than one client who have come to me and said you know, I want to work on this. I'm so inconsistent I need to be more consistent. And I'll okay let's like talk about that. What do you what do you mean when you say consider Well, you know, I'll have these like, handful of days, or a week or so where I'm just like, on top of everything, I'm doing everything. And then it's like, a week or two, like every month that where I just like, can't do anything. And, you know, and I'm sitting there, like, every month, is it this same cycle? You know? And it's like, yeah, okay, well, does it correlate to your cycle at all? You know, because I don't know what they're talking about. Right? But it's like, right, sometimes when they describe it, it almost could sound bipolar, right. And so it's like, but it could actually be your hormonal cycle, in addition to ADHD, and maybe some anxiety and depression or other stuff, too. And, you know, having that awareness that, oh, every month, I have some high energy days, and I'm going to have a stretch of low energy, and how can I start designing my life around my energy cycles, instead of feeling like I should be whatever consistent means producing around the clock every month, all year long? Like, that's not how women's bodies work?
That makes me want to completely overhaul my schedule, just talking to you. Like, I'm on the I'm on the cusp of my cycle starting. And I mean, the last two weeks have been held. I mean, obviously, you have other factors coming in. So it's always something else, right? It's always Well, I mean, I'm a new mom. Oh, there was a storm. Oh, someone died, whatever, you know. But you're right. I mean, when you do the math, and I never tracked either add, and now I do and it's like, Holy moly. It changes so much. Just knowing. So when you when you talk about hormone therapy, or are you referring to taking birth control as supplementation? Or how are they helping you in terms of hormones,
so I, I take oral progesterone, and I have an estrogen patch, that is like, once a week, I change it, you know, within about 10 days of starting, I don't want to be like it was this like,
save your experience,
I felt very different. I felt so different that I I could not believe that my hormones were affecting me as much as they were. I just had no idea. And it wasn't like it was the fix. But it definitely was a really crucial piece of the puzzle. Yeah, I mean, within a week or so I started feeling like more affection towards my husband. I felt like my eyes weren't so dry. So there's this stuff around menopause, women don't know, that happens, which is that we just dry up, like, everything dries up our ovaries. I was like, I was having all these
issues that I just thought were like your skin right? Your skin dry out, too.
Yeah. So I'm, like thinking all this stuff that and I'm already kind of dry, in general, my skin and stuff. So it was like, okay, we're gonna Welcome to Aging or aging, but learning the role of our hormones. And the thing is, I'm not I'm also not like pushing hormone therapy. My case for it for me personally was my kids are still really young. And I also have like a decade on my peers of, I'm going to miss out on perimenopause, where you do still have a reasonable amount of estrogen production production. It's just inconsistent. And it kind of ebbs and flows, which is what you know, contributes to a lot of symptoms of perimenopause, my doctor was like, if you're willing to do it, I don't have risks that would make it like, and there was like some research, there was some research that was released a long time ago about hormone therapy, that actually like was not right. And it freaked a bunch of people out. And so understanding like, it's actually a smaller dose than birth control. It's like such a tiny dose, and it has such a big impact on you know, how I feel and how my body is functioning. And so it's definitely been the right decision for me for now.
Yeah, that's incredible. It's almost reminds me of what it was like taking mental health meds for the first time. Like, it's incredible that hormones could be that. I know, when I was coming of age, and I would hear hormones, it would just be like Womp womp womp womp womp womp. Like, this isn't me, I don't care, you know, very like me focus, right? until it happens to you. And you're like, oh, wow, this is serious. Well, now
I'm like every woman that I know who is over the age of 35. You know, it's like Be on the lookout if your period is starting to be a little bit inconsistent. And it's usually you know, like clockwork, or if you which you may not know if you have ADD, or if you are starting to experience like some mood changes that feel like more severe more out of character for you. You know, it's worth talking to your doctors about because it's not that you're going to take hormone therapy if you unless you're in menopause, you're not going to take that. But it's you, it's really important that you know that that's what's happening because perimenopause can last like five to 10 years. And it can be for some women really physically grueling, and for others annoying, and for others, you know, hardly noticeable. And so it's just one of those things again, like, tune into your body tune into your mood, pay attention, because it might not just be your ADHD. And it also might, you might not have anxiety or depression necessarily, like you
might also just be riding the wave of your hormones. And they affect everything. Yes,
I totally relate to that. And, you know, I've recently switched Sykes and, you know, telling her about my anxiety and whatnot. And I thought she was gonna give me some sort of anxiety or depression based solution. And we ended up putting my stimulants Instead, it wasn't an anxiety issue, it was an ADHD issue, which is directly correlated with hormone fluctuation. So it makes total sense. So I just, I just, Oh, God, I hope more doctors start talking about this. And I guess it, I guess it's going to have to start with us whether or not that's fair, you know, it does have to start with us. And
you know, I actually talked to a doctor not to treat me but as, as another woman who has ADHD, and she was late diagnosis as an adult. She's a doctor, she's doing research on things related to like female reproduction. And she was telling me in this conversation, that she got a late diagnosis. She's taking medication for her ADHD stimulant medication. And she actually called the pharmacy to ask them if she had gotten a bad batch of meds because they were worried they were not working.
You're worthless to her.
But it was like, during her luteal phase, it was like right before her period. And so she said, she said to me, like, I just really think there's something here. And I was like, Yes,
there is, please.
She's a doctor who's like researching some of this stuff. And also has ADHD, right? So it's like that understanding of how all of this in our plays, is still not on people's radar.
Right. It can be on ours, it can be on ours. And we can say, you know what, that week of the month, I can see it's coming. And I am I'm working to order out. And we and I am not going to push myself to have plans in the evening. And I'm going to, you know, eat candy. If I want to whatever, like, I'm going to take care of myself, I'm going to let myself be low energy, because that's what my body needs.
Yeah, and I'm going to just say, right now, I'm going to normalize that, because that's exactly what I did today. And I was pushing through, I was really, really beating myself up all week. And finally, it always
happened all sudden, you're snapping at your kids and your husband, and you're like, I'm a monster. And then you realize, Oh, I need to take a minute, you know. And that's what I've been doing all day, all the things you described above.
So I love it. Well, it's like I used to have like a day where I would just have a meltdown, I would just like cry really hard about nothing, right. And then the next day, I'd start my period. And so it's like, when we can start to tune in and notice those things, we can help the people around us also adjust and care for us. But the other side of that coin is that you can also harness the energy and the power of those high estrogen days, when you start noticing I have these days where I feel like I'm, you know, on a cloud, like, Great like start tracking and noticing that and then plan to do hard stuff on those days plan to reorganize the closet or get that PowerPoint drafted for work or whatever.
Yeah, or I'm just thinking to myself out loud, like batching a lot of work that you I know for me, I do a few writing assignments for people. And I'm thinking out loud right now. But it's like I could batch right, the first half of the month, take the second half of the month, offer writing. So Wow, you just unlock the whole box of possibilities, just talking. I love that. It's awesome. I think I was going through my questions. You pretty much nailed on my questions. If anybody wants to seek you out. How can they find you out and about and if they want to connect with you?
Yeah, so I'm on Instagram, and Twitter on Instagram. I am at coach Elizabeth brink. And on Twitter I am ADHD mama coach because my name is too long. But so you can find me on either of those. I also I do coach women one on one. But I also hang out and coach in a group setting in the ADHD enclave, which is an online community of women with ADHD that I help run with Liz Lewis, who researches and writes about ADHD amazing listeners.
yeah. So it's a wonderful community of women. It's Safe and private. And so you can come hang out with me like right away if you want.
Yeah, you guys could show up and talk about your period all you want. Yeah, and company and you can get feedback from other people. And that sounds like a really great situation. I know I if I needed to that would be nice to have. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you so much for all the work you do for the women out there. And for all of us on Twitter, you You're so supportive, and, and thank you for being on the show. Thanks for having me. This
was wonderful. And we need to talk more about it. So I'm glad you're doing this. Thank
Let's just keep talking. And if anything else ever comes up anything interesting, you're noticing among clients, whatever, we could get back on here again, and just keep talking because nothing's gonna change unless we keep talking. That's right. That's right. I always wondered if weighted blankets could help me with anxiety. During the pandemic. It was the perfect opportunity to find out ever since the first night I have slept with my weighted blanket I have had very relaxing sleep don't deal with insomnia nearly as often and a point where I don't want to sleep without it. It is it is that awesome to find out which blanket I use, it's just so comfortable and so beautiful. Go to adulting with ADHD calm slash Mosaic, and you'll see my favorite one and there's many many others to choose from.
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