I’m in hell (not literally, although that might explain my absence). They don’t have Wi-Fi in hell. They also don’t have ice water or chocolate. I don’t want to be here, but I’ve wound up here, despite my good intentions. It’s not that I’m evil, it’s just that lately I’ve had an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch someone – with a baseball bat.
It’s possible that my agitation is a reflection of all the hatred and anger that’s out there right now –but I don’t think that’s it. I think my violent urges can be blamed on the fact that I am a “woman of a certain age” and that I’m going through the dreaded M word. The word that-must-not-be-named (with apologies to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter). No, not marriage, although the thought of marriage can cause dread among a select (mostly masculine) portion of the populace. And not Maternity, although that can cause dread, anxiety and flat out fear (and rightfully so – children are assholes! I would know, I used to be one).
I’m talking about Menopause. My friends and I prefer the phrase “mental pause” (for good reason. Ever since it started my brain has been permanently paused). TBH, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve only had a few “personal summers” (during the summer, which seems incredibly cruel) and zero night sweats. I gained 10 pounds, but that could be due to my newfound love of Modelo Negra.
One of my biggest issues has been hair loss*. Then there’s the newfound sleeplessness associated with shifting hormonal levels (granted, mid-life insomnia is not unique to menopausal women, but I’m including it here because it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want, so there ;-P). According to an article on WebMD, a study published in the journal Menopause in 2001 observed that “insomnia is a frequently reported complaint in menopausal women.” The reason: You may be sleeping – or wanting to sleep — but your estrogen levels are still up dancing all night long. And that continual action can interrupt healthy sleep. I’d really like to know why, when I’m too tired to stay up to watch CSI, my estrogen levels have the energy to stay up dancing all night long. Ah well, I’m using the extra free time to power through my reading list.
I consider myself fortunate in that I have friends who have battled the M word. Women with whom I’ve been able compare notes and commiserate over a glass of wine (or three). I want to take this opportunity to let them know that I’m unfriending them. They failed to properly prepare me for Menopause Mood Swings. In their defense, NOTHING can prepare you for MMP. Severe PMS? Nope, not even close. Pregnancy hormones? Close, but no cigar. As my sister-in-law Jasmine put it “These hormones are no joke – I can want to kill someone and then sob uncontrollably at my own crazy in under five seconds.” I have her beat. I can go from upbeat to homicidal in 2.3 seconds, and I’m buying Kleenex by the buttload (damn those people in advertising anyway).
There are definitely things you can do to offset “power surges”. With two hormonal females under one roof, my husband learned fairly quickly that the best thing to do when someone you love starts riding the hormonal rollercoaster is throw chocolate and hide the pointy objects. I’ve found that a glass of wine takes the edge off (added bonus – red wine has health benefits!), and that the aforementioned chocolate releases endorphins. I’ve heard rumors that endorphins are released during exercise, but that seems like a drastic measure. Experts recommend offsetting hormone surges with visualization and breathing exercises. I’ve found that this one works well for me:
When all is said and done, I am forced to admit that menopause can be fun (trust me – menopause puts the f-u in “fun”). If nothing else, I’ve learned brand new games I can play by myself, including “Where did I put my___?” and “Why the hell did I come in here?” It’s because hormones create something known as “brain fog”. Evidently hormones, like zombies, eat your brain. Unlike zombies, hormones do not eat other peoples’ brains and cannot be killed by an arrow to the eye or a knife through the head (well, they CAN be, but it seems like a permanent solution to a temporary situation).
I’ve been told that, as I move further “post” my “post-menopausal” stage, things will get easier. In the meantime, I’m keeping Nathanial Parizek’s quote in mind:
*Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m losing hair from my head, but I’m growing it in fun new places. My sideburns are particularly lovely.
So, tell me – how do YOU handle your hormonal shifts? Chocolate and wine? Meditation and yoga?
P.S. for those of you who have waited patiently to know the difference between hormones and whore moans – Both can be fake, but one responds well to chocolate, and one will cost you a little extra.