I am almost 46 and definitively perimenopausal.
How do I know? Certainly I’ve not learnt it in the manual I was given at birth (NOT!), but from my reactions in the morning when my perimenopausal persona comes alive and kicking!
It’s funny how most of us know (both women and men) that young girls go through puberty and those pesky hormones create all sorts of havoc in theirs and their parents’ life. We know the craziness is unintentional, temporary and natural. So we know that “even this shall pass”, we brace for it and prey it will be over soon.
As a woman I have gone through that very confusing time, and I remember what’s like to be both a little kid and growing human that doesn’t know what the heck is going on in their body and mind. So, when I see a girl going through puberty, I know her behaviour is normal because I’ve been there, done that.
Then, there is being pregnant. If one has not experienced first hand the joys of your body and mind being actually taken over, there’s plenty of filmography showing crying women that get transformed into screaming beasts by the time they hit the delivery room. We all have seen it. We know what looks like. We know what is normal.
And again, on my part, been there, done that.
But then you hit your 40s and you really think “that’s it, I am in control now”, which feels so liberating. You know who you are and what you want in life. Finally.
Until perimenopause hits you. And it’s when everything gets very confusing… again!
It feels like someone else has taken control over who you are. So, forget all you know and have taken for granted for 40 odd years…that you are that person, that you patience has that limit, that you never break a sweat and you are a morning person. Because when you enter the perimenopausal arena, all the rules and what you knew to be true for you, are to be re-written.
And there is so little we know of what that looks like, it is crazy!
I remember my mum being my age when I was 25. She never mentioned the ‘M’ word, so I thought that being crazy, moody, depressive and anxious was part of her personality. But I now wonder…because this is how I feel now…
Most mornings I feel that I would bite anyone’s head (even our poor cat’s) just because they had the audacity of interrupting my train of thoughts with a laugh or even a deep sigh.
Concentrating on even the smallest tasks can be a challenge. I often find myself halfway through going to a room or opening a drawer and hanging there for seconds trying to remember what I wanted to get.
Periods are all over the place. One month you are blessed with two and the next you don’t know when it’s coming, which is very inconvenient for so many reasons. Sex? Events? Holidays? Anyone?
My moods. What to say? For some time I had honestly thought I was going mad. Feeling horribly down (I know it’s raining and the winter blues are a real thing) one minute and terribly anxious the one after that has become my almost daily challenge.
Waking up in the middle of the night with a rushing mind that wouldn’t stop creating the worst case scenario of any of your worries like in the best scripted horror film. I thought I was bipolar.
Feeling paralysed and wanting to hide has been one reaction that scared me lately as it leads to even more isolation and overthinking, which is never a good option, especially in this delicate period of our lives. My duvet has never had so much appeal…
As a female representative, I can confidently say that this hormonal craziness sucks big time! Men are luckier because they travel through life pretty untouched by any of this troublesome crap.
All is lost? Of course, not. But we need to discuss options ladies, because perimenopause is still considered taboo and there is little information out there. Getting together and talking about it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our partners as well.
There is no denying that everybody experiences different symptoms with different intensity and we do not know honestly how long this mayhem will go on for (5-10 years?), however, we do know that there are things we can do to cope better and feel well about ourselves.
So…”Roll roll up ladies and gentlemen, here comes the marvellous balancing act of maintaining our sanity whilst stop fighting with ourselves and nature”:
I resist it like mad, but actually exercise in all its forms has so many benefits that its importance cannot be overstated:
- Makes you get out of your head. Overthinking and getting stuck in a negative thought patterns is very damaging to our confidence and wellbeing. The best way of interrupting those patterns is by grounding yourself and exercise is its supreme expression.
- Replaces food and other habits that do not serve us in the long run with a healthy that makes you stronger
- Gives us the opportunity to connect with others that go through the same journey and we stop feeling abnormal or alone in this. It can help normalising the way of looking at menopause which is very healthy
- We move our bodies. Practicing a functional training keeps your body healthy and strong, which is the base of our mobility when we will be older
- We have an opportunity to get out in nature. It has a proven calming effect on our body and mind
- Provide a serotonin boost. Yes, ladies, the nature high that makes us happy and content. Bring it on!
How many times did I actually say ”it’s not for me” before I embraced it properly? Tons.
I used to find standing still with myself almost impossible. What a waste of time! I also thought I wasn’t doing it right because how can you just breathe and that’s it? But it is that simple, and it actually helps. Through meditation you slow down (and man, living in London we really need it!) and you get the opportunity to have honest look at what we have been trying to run from. And the good news is, it’s not as scary as you might think.
Yes , you heard me.
I get it. This is one I really struggle with as well, especially when I am in the midst of all the hormone storm that takes my rational self to another planet. But being patient with yourself is incredibly challenging and important. There is no point in beating ourselves up for feeling a certain way… just learn how to surf the wave and do something for yourself while it passes. It can be honestly fun to laugh at ourselves. It really doesn’t’ have to be so serious.
If you have no time or patience for anything else in life, do this one thing.
We need to come together, girls. We need to talk about what’s going on with honesty and without shame. Being perimenopausal is natural, it happens to 50% of the population and it’s time we help each other here. For ourselves, our partners and kids.
Because if we do not know what’s going on with us, and we think we are going mad, then it’s normal for anyone alse to look at us like we are murderous aliens.
The more we accept that this is happening and it’s normal, the more we can feel better about ourselves and go back to saner everyday life.
It’s as easy as taking the phone to call a friend, get to the park to have a chat and a walk. 15-20 minuets. This is what I call “a quickie” with a friend. Sounds awesome, right?
This very morning I have beat my morning blues and I dragged myself out of the door to get some exercise, fresh air and be with a group of women I knew would have made me feel better. In those 45 minutes I had the most benefits I had in weeks. That single decision to get myself out of the door made a miracle happen. I am so grateful that I had a chat after the exercise! I had hugs from half crying women saying a more positive “me too”.
Let’s get real, girls. Menopause is not a swear word, it’s part of nature and it’s part of life.
So, never apologise for who you are.
Never feel bad for what you’re going through. It’s normal and you are not alone.
And never forget that together we are stronger.
Talk to your girlfriends and make sure you do whatever you can to celebrate yourself right now, feel feminine and sexy and because that girl is still there and needs kindness and attention. She’s alive and kicking and full of life!
Yes, perimenopause sucks!! But you are beautiful and worth celebrating. Always. Remember that.