We often joke about men having a midlife crisis as we watch them buy a leather jacket or a convertible sports car when they get to ‘a certain age’ … my other half has done the latter so far. Joking aside, there is a general acceptance and awareness of men hitting middle age and behaving out of sorts.
Women in midlife, on the other hand, are dismissed with a flippant “it’s the change”. Change? I’ll give you bloody change. In fact, right now it’s more perimenopausal pandemonium. I’m tired and I’m irritable … not a good combination. My patience is short and my temper, quick. I have no time for fuckwits.
Oh if only it was as simple as periods coming to a halt and a couple of hot flashes. Growing up, that’s pretty much what I was expecting. I didn’t have a lot to go on because it’s only very recently that women and media openly talk about the transition to menopause.
Life should be getting easier at my age – I’ve got a job I love, I can see the light at the end of my mortgage tunnel and the hard work I put into earlier decades of my life means I have a little bit of disposable income each month. The sad thing is, now I have the time and cash to start enjoying the fruits of my labour, I often severely lack the energy to do anything about it.
Take today as an example. I have been desperate for a lazy day for a few weeks now – a day on a weekend where I could please myself. Well that day arrived and I was so exhausted I slept in until 10am, was in my dressing gown until midday and appear to have lost 2 hours in some kind of fog. I’m exhausted and mourn the loss of energy I used to enjoy and take for granted. My get up and go I had in my 20s and 30s has got up and gone.
Before I knew I was in perimenopause, this stage in my life terrified me. I’ve already mentioned in previous Perimenopausal Princess Papers about how unprepared I was for all this. At one stage I was convinced it was early onset dementia! With help and support I’m coping well with it all these days … most of the time. But the big area I’m struggling with right now is the lack of energy I have. I look back at how active and sociable I was and shudder. How did I do it all?
Deciding that I should be finding the motivation to get back in the game, I set myself the task to do a bit of research. With so many resources and websites appearing now for women like me, would I be able to find some advice on reconnecting with my mojo? How do I survive my midlife meltdown?
Yeah, that’s just great. It’s gone midday, I’m barely out of my dressing gown and I’m being advised that exercise is the answer. Fabulous. But they do have a point. On the days when I do drag my lazybones on a good walk I will admit I do feel better. The problem is that when people tell us to exercise, we come out in a cold sweat as we think about going to a gym or something else we don’t like. But exercise can be gardening, clearing out the spare room or a gentle amble around the block. The trick is to find something you enjoy or will make you feel good. Mary Poppins was on to something there …
Good sleep hygiene is the golden ticket here. We have written a number of sleep related articles that can help you with this one. Often we are advised to develop good routines and regular sleep patterns, and from experience I always feel better when I look after myself in the zzzzz’s department.
This is a conversation for you and your doctor. It’s a known fact that pregnant women can develop iron deficiencies, but did you know that heavy periods experienced by women in perimenopause can also take their toll? I wasn’t aware of this until I experienced terrible floods or menorrhagia to use it’s medical name. Luckily these types of periods are few and far between for me, but they can cause symptoms such as fatigue. Please take the advice I was given and do not self-medicate – ALWAYS speak to your doctor if this is an area of concern for you.
Again, this is another area to discuss with your doctor. Many perimenopause symptoms are also similar to those for other conditions. For example, a diet that is lacking in vitamin B12 can display symptoms such as lack of energy, brain fog and depression. Your doctor can talk this through with you and, if necessary, perform a quick blood test.
You may have also made changes to your diet recently, unintentionally reducing the amount of protein you are consuming. Protein provides our bodies with energy, so not eating enough meat, fish, eggs or dairy could be the reason why you are feeling tired. Now you know why you are always advised to consult your doctor if you are going to be making changes to your diet – they really can help you avoid the unintended consequences of a new regime.
I will admit that irritability is a large contribution to my midlife meltdown. The other half is, luckily, finding it quite entertaining as it just isn’t me. And his breathing still annoys me … you’ll need to read Part 3 of the Perimenopausal Princess Papers to find out why. I’ve learned some more tips since writing that blog. Accepting my anger and letting it wash over me has been working well – by just adding a small pause before I react to a situation has prevented quite a few situations from snowballing.
Perimenopuase is bringing pandemonium to my life, but I’m finding ways to cope and and am doing okay. I know this isn’t forever and I will come out the other side. Speak to your doctor, get the support and help you need from all the resources available and reclaim the control you have lost from your life. Use the comments to share your tips with us – we ladies need to stick together!