Perimenopuse sucks. I won’t lie. In fact, you know how bad it has been for me as I’ve been quite open and honest in each of the ‘Perimenopausal Princess’ Papers.
I am mourning the loss of my energy and my hair. I was convinced I was suffering from early-onset dementia. I struggle at work as a perpetual mind fog convinces me I am losing the ability to perform like I used to. My once clockwork menstrual cycle ranges from 12 to 57 days, with flow ranging from spotting to tsunami.
My hormones ensure I am tired, emotional and unsociable. I can’t tolerate crowds, loud people or family get-togethers. When most people struggled during the COVID pandemic lockdowns, I found comfort and happiness in the enforced solitude. I feel like I have lost my confidence and my mind.
Well aren’t I a little ray of fucking sunshine?! After painting such a gloomy picture, I can confess there have been plenty of good times during my menopause transition … because that’s what it is. I am just moving between phases of womanhood.
I wasn’t told it would be like this. In fact, I wasn’t told anything at all. Other than the promise of periods eventually stopping one day, women of my age barely spoke a word of what menopause was like, let alone perimenopause. But maybe, if we think about it, was that actually a good thing?
Maybe if we research something too much, maybe if we read every book and article out there, we can actually ‘over inform’ our brains, propelling ourselves to a position where overwhelming negativity has dropped anchor in our heads, ensuring that all the bad experiences we have read about suddenly become ours too.
Maybe we are looking at this phase in our lives from completely the wrong angle. Is it possible to change the way we look at ‘the change’? Is there some middle ground in between blissful ignorance and menopausal-guru where we can find a happy balance, embrace ‘the change’ and make menopause a positive experience? Here are some ways you can make a change to your mindset:
I have learned to laugh at my experience. By talking about the daft things that happen, by sharing stories with others, I have discovered laughter really is great medicine and that I’m not alone. Laughing makes you feel good, and when you feel good your mood changes, stimulating a more positive mindset that in turn helps you deal with the stresses and strains of life in perimenopause.
I am a people pleaser, often sacrificing my own happiness for other people. My husband told me to ‘fuck them all off’ and encourages me to do things that make me happy. If I’m happy, he knows everyone in our house will be happy.
This is how I became a ‘Perimenopausal Princess’ – he does all the necessary chores and donkey work he can so that I don’t have to, and anything that isn’t critical can be done later when one of us feels like it. It no longer matters if I choose to have a bubble bath rather than clean the kitchen. I feel no guilt over crafting when I could be ironing.
I will drop what I’m doing to go and sit in the garden with the dog – because I can. Last weekend I wasted 2 hours sat in the garden watching butterflies – wasted is the wrong word. It was blissful.
I spend my free time doing things I enjoy that occupy my mind. When my mind is busy doing something I love, I can’t help but feel relaxed. Find the exercise, the routines, the food or the activities that bring you joy and embrace them wholeheartedly.
I use an app called ‘Calm’. It has taught me to be in the ‘now’ and notice my environment and how it makes me feel. I have learned to enjoy wind in my hair, sun on my skin or rain on my face. Anxiety wasn’t something I really suffered with until perimenopause came along.
We shared a blog recently about discovering the power of mindfulness and meditation. I’m not the stereotypical tree-hugging hippie type often associated with meditation, and was often too embarrassed to admit I was using meditation to help me.
I’m still not the type of person you would associate with it, but I will now sing from the rooftops about the benefits of taking just 10 minutes of your day to breath and reflect. It honestly works wonders and my only regret is that I waited so long to try it.
You’re Not Alone
I’m talking to my closest friends and my husband, but I’m also having conversations with women who I’d never really spent time with. They are not friends or family but are instead colleagues or strangers. I have connected with other women through this blog, social media and support groups.
Together, us ladies have bonded over our shared experiences and we laugh together about them – even the bad ones. We all know that this will pass, it’s a phase of our lives that we all have to go through. Some will sail through and some will stumble, but with a little bit of sympathy and empathy, together we are strong enough to face the world each day.
The Last Taboo
Perimenopause and menopause are no longer words that are only spoken by the brave. We no longer feel the need to use hushed tones. As we leave menstruation behind us and no longer have to worry about birth control, us ladies are feeling a sense of empowerment or independence.
This huge cultural shift we are seeing in the media and in the workplace is shining a spotlight on an important issue. Instead of having to walk away from the careers we love and have worked hard for, employers are now learning to talk to us about the support we need during this phase in our lives. These changes to our bodies and minds are natural and deserve to be recognised and normalised.
Perimenopause is tough. We can be prescribed drugs to help with some of our symptoms, but they won’t fix everything. Often we are being misdiagnosed with depression and any feelings we have of being overwhelmed will not be washed away with a dose of HRT.
We must not feel embarrassed to say that we are struggling because of the menopause. The symptoms we feel are real – they are not in our heads, but they are not permanent and we will regain our zest for life. Embrace this phase of womanhood instead of fighting it. Accept help, talk to your GP or Practise Nurse, but don’t let ‘the change’ change you.
I know I’ll get through this and so will you.