In general, “the change” in a woman’s life is usually a pretty personal issue. Some women will talk about it with their close friends, but very few women will speak publicly about the symptoms of menopause. I’ll tell you honestly, it stinks! Unfortunately, women in my family start the transition into post-child bearing years fairly young. I’m pretty sure that I started to feel the effects of perimenopause in my mid-30s, a phenomenon that some people might think is strange. It started with heart racing first, then moved into random nights of sleeplessness, and then the terrible mood swings.
Unless you have experienced these symptoms yourself, you start to think that you are going crazy. Especially when you feel like you want to smash everything in your presence, like you have suddenly become She-Hulk. And those mood swings come out of nowhere. One minute, I’m all smiles and good cheer, and the next minute I seriously want to drive my car into a wall. I remember when I would feel slightly out of touch with reality when I was in high school. I didn’t associate those moments with hormonal changes, but now I understand that the brain fog just gets worse as I am inching closer and closer to “the change.”
The night sweats started last year. It is not a pleasant feeling to wake up in your sweat, thinking that you must have peed the bed. But no, it’s just the joy of this change in my life. I can usually tell when my random period is going to start up again because the night sweats usually take place over a 2-3 night period about a week before Aunt Flo shows up. And she is showing up more frequently than before. That’s another joy of “the change.” My perfect 28 day cycle is now about 21 days with a few 14 day cycles thrown in, just for fun.
The worst part of this stage in life is that I don’t know when it will end. It could be this year, or next, or I could be experiencing all of these wonderful symptoms for the next ten years. Hopefully, I will follow in the footsteps of the matriarchs in my family and it will end sooner than later.
I wish women would talk about “the change” more frequently than they do. That way, those of us who are going through it won’t feel so psychotic. We talk about our children, our husbands, our jobs, our pets, our vacations, but we avoid conversations about our health, especially our mental health. We need to know that it’s ok to talk to one another about all of the stupid symptoms that we have as our bodies are changing.
We also need to know that it’s ok that we are past our child bearing years. So much of our value comes from getting married and having children, that we somehow feel like we are less than after menopause. But we aren’t. We are still beautiful and powerful women!
Finally, we need to share these experiences with our loved ones so that they don’t call up the authorities and have us committed. We might seem a little crazy some days. We might be all weepy one moment and yelly the next, but to some degree we can’t help it. It is so difficult to stop myself when I’m on a rant. My mom said that it’s like watching a dog get after a bone. And then, I feel so stupid after I’ve screamed at almost everyone in the house. I just want to cry in bed until the feelings all just go away.
If you’re a woman going through “the change,” don’t feel ashamed to find someone to talk with – another woman who is experiencing it along with you, or a women who already has, like your mom, or grandma, or aunt. If you’re the loved one of a woman going through menopause, please be patient with her. Buy her chocolate and rub her feet. She might yell at you, or cry, but she will appreciate the patience and kindness.
Ladies, let’s stop making menopause a taboo topic. Just like all other stages in life, it is a natural progression we experience. And more than anything, love yourself as you go through “the change.” You’re worth it.