Imagine you’re out walking. It’s a lovely sunny day. Most of the time. There are intermittent showers, but that’s ok. You’re humming along, enjoying the smells of freshly washed leaves. It’s not like you don’t have a care in the world. That’s not a thing. But you’re dealing with your cares quite well at the moment. You have been dealing with them just fine throughout your 40s. You think, “I have finally reached the age of maturity. The age of wisdom. I know nothing. And I know that I know nothing. I have dealt with the traumas of my past. I can now look forward to a future of (somewhat) inner peace.”
And as you’re walking, you see in front of you a gelatinous wall that extends across your path as far as the eye can see. “Huh,” you think. “That’s strange. I won’t be able to walk around this one. I’ll just have to walk through it until I reach the other side.”
You’re used to gelatinous walls crossing your path. You’ve dealt with them before. You have years of gelatinous wall experience in your pocket. So you don’t really think much of having to go through yet another one.
You start moving forward. The gelatinous wall is nice and soft. It allows you in immediately. It’s difficult to see but you keep moving. At first, you’re able to keep a steady pace. But as you move deeper and deeper into the wall, the gelatin becomes less forgiving. It becomes more difficult to hold onto your ‘age of wisdom’ attitude about the situation. You can’t walk. You can’t see. You can’t move. You can’t breathe. You can’t THINK. “At least give me that, you horrible wall!” you scream. “At least leave me my ability to think!!”
That’s what my peri-menopause feels like.
I’ve been going through perimenopause for God only knows how long. I’ve been surprised about how little I understand about this process despite having a medical degree and considering myself generally well read on the topic. I wanted to know what to expect when the time came. So I thought I was going to be prepared.
I have experienced symptoms for years that I’ve thought might be because of changing hormones. But then, when it comes to things like anxiety or restless nights, how do you know if it’s down to a hormone imbalance or if life and its stresses are just fucking you up?
I’ve been complaining about anxiety for several years. I’ve told my doctors, I’ve gone through therapy, I’ve learned coping strategies. If someone were to tell me that the anxiety that I developed in my thirties was down to life’s fuck-ups, I can believe them. But the anxiety I developed later on in my late 40s/early 50s felt different. Sure, life’s fuck-ups are still there and probably still need to be dealt with. I swear to God I’m working on it as best I can. But I can tell there’s something else. I know there’s something else.
You know what upsets me? It’s how difficult it is to get someone to listen. You go to the doctor as a lady in your late 40s and tell her time and again that you have anxiety, and you’re told to try to get in touch with a counsellor or, “Here. Take this pill that will give you the worst brain fog you’ve experienced in your whole life and fuck being able to work.” You mention potential symptoms of perimenopause and you’re met with a blank stare.
I thought I had me figured out.
I thought I had me under control.
I thought I had been on this long, tortuous (anything-but-spectacular-now-that-I’m-where-I-am-now) journey and that I’d learned the greatest lessons of life, reached the age of wisdom, and I could deal calmly with anything that was thrown my way.
I don’t know what happened or when exactly, but I was really really wrong.
Now I find myself asking me: “So what’s the deal? I knew life was always going to have its ups and downs. I figured that part out. I lowered my expectations completely and started enjoying whatever it was I did have. But I thought I had learned self-control. I thought I had gained inner peace. WHERE THE FUCK HAS THAT GONE???”
Does this mean that just as life has its ups and downs, self also goes through uncontrollable rollercoaster-rides of emotions? But why?
Or is this just me bolting right into pre-menopause? I have to warn you now, if this is what my menopause is going to be like, if I have to go through this for several years, you will all want to run out of my way starting now. Because this ugly. This is really ugly.
And then I think, “Why has God made women’s hormones so difficult to deal with? I mean: this is God we’re talking about. G O D. God can do anything. God gave us tornadoes and tsunamis and poverty and asshole dictators. (more…)