Did you catch the irony of that title? Menopause or perimenopause or whatever this is that is taking place in my 43 1/2 year old body is not so merry. In fact, it is quite literally, the least merry experience of my life. Seriously, what is this holy hot and cold hell?
*This jacket was provided to me for the purposes of this blog post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
Some women who have come through this stage of life share similar stories of bodily torment. Others claim to have breezed through it unscathed. Now, I know that all women are different and we all experience hormonal fluctuations in various stages of intensity with a variety of side effects. So I can only speak from my own personal experience of what is going on here. And right now, the oxymoronic happenings are these…Mentally and emotionally, I feel better than I ever have in my entire life. I have that confidence that comes with age and wisdom. I have a firm and unwavering sense of self. I am dedicated to my mission in life without skepticism or doubt. But physically, dear God, I all too often feel like I have been rammed by a freight train.
My biggest complaint is the debilitating fatigue that sets in about 20 days into my menstrual cycle. This is not just any ordinary level of tiredness. It is DE-BIL-I-TA-TING. Fatigue that requires a self-imposed mental pep talk to put one foot in front of the other. Fatigue which makes me fear getting behind the wheel of my car because I very well may drift off into blissful slumber at any given moment. Fatigue that no amount of sleep is enough sleep to cure. Fatigue that cannot be erased even with all the world’s caffeine.
I mentioned blissful slumber right up there. As if that is a thing during menopause. Slumber, blissful or not, is quite hard to come by. Actually, falling asleep is not really the issue. Debilitating fatigue takes care of that problem. It’s the waking up at 3:25 every freaking morning. Yes, 3:25 exactly. Every morning. And not being able to lose consciousness again. Then fighting through the fatigue all damn day because I didn’t get those last few hours of much needed sleep. Yawn.
My next complaint is the hair. Not the hair on my head. I actually am quite happy with that hair…for the first time in my life. But the hair on my face. Where the hell is it all coming from and why does it grow so fast?! Every time I look in the mirror, there is some sort of new sprout greeting me, taunting me, laughing at me. My tweezers have become one of my favorite accessories…I carry them everywhere…because you never know when a new quill will germinate from beneath my skin, pointing at me in the bright sunlight of the rearview mirror with derisive mockery.
Speaking of my skin. For a woman who never really experienced skin issues, these cyclical acne outbreaks are quite difficult to take. And it’s not even your traditional pimples that afflict me. Rather, they are deep subcutaneous cysts that never quite come to the surface, but they hurt and they itch like crazy. And they come and go exactly in sync with my cycle like beacons of the impending onslaught of menstruation.
I don’t know if you are looking at the pictures at all or how much you are enjoying the beautiful snowscaped backdrop in them. But let me tell you this…I was freezing. Because who wouldn’t be…the temperature was in the teens with violent whipping winds when we shot these photographs. But wait…with no warning at all, my armpits began producing enough sweat to quell a fire right in the midst of my violent shivering. Every night, I climb into bed shaking with chills from the inside out and I wake up hours later lying in a pool of sweat…which in turn leads to more shivers. Yeah. Sweat, shiver, sweat, shiver, sweat, shiver, sweat. The story of my life.
By the way, this amazing jacket that I am wearing is actually made of a lightweight flannel which is perfect for any woman in the throes of heat flashes.
As I was attempting to accept all the craziness going on, I began reading Radiant Again & Forever by Prudence Hall, M.D.. I am only 50 pages in, but I actually started to feel somewhat “normal” for whatever that’s worth. Her book is filled with the true life stories and struggles from real women who suffered from crippling side effects of perimenopause and menopause. Women who were told by their doctors that they were too young to be experiencing menopause. Women who voiced their complaints and were essentially told to ignore their own intuitions. Dr. Hall believes that we, as mature and intelligent women, are the best source of insight into our own bodies when it comes to discovering an accurate diagnosis. We need to become proficient in reading the messages that our bodies send to us.
I leave you with this from Dr. Hall:
“I believe that true health is supported by three pillars: your physical body, the power of your mind with its thoughts and emotions, and your connection to your authentic self and your true life’s purpose. When each of these is addressed, we become full of life, leaving any deadness behind. The results are explosive, igniting new vitality and union with your true self. You deserve to be fabulous!”
Indeed, Dr. Hall, we all deserve to be fabulous! My readers of the female persuasion, what has been your experience with this stage of life, if you have reached it yet? And any male readers, if you have your own experiences to share of your menopausal loved ones, please join the discussion. None of us needs to embark on this journey alone. I would love to open the conversation and unite us all in this adventure called womanhood! Let’s be fabulous together!
Merry Menopause, my friends!
Keeping it on the edge,
Also, be sure to check out my article, Running On Overdrive: How To Avoid the Crash, in the Winter Issue of Resilientista Magazine as well as all of the other amazing contributions. Lots of great tips are provided for living your best life!
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