After a week where I have been dealing with a lot of miserable menopausal symptoms, I thought I would take a few moments to outline what, exactly can happen when you go through menopause.
Guys, even though YOU will not go through menopause, chances are pretty good that you are going to have to interact, at some point, with a woman who IS going through menopause. A wife, a mother, a girlfriend, the teller at the bank, you know, a woman. You see them from time to time, no?
And on the outside, they seem like any other woman. Yes, yes they do. You won't be able to tell.
For instance.....I was 29 years old when I went through menopause.
It took a while for them to figure out what was going on. By the time they finally ran the right test, and realized what they were dealing with, I was nothing short of a science experiment. And as such, I spent a very long time feeling pretty fucking miserable. In fact, every so often, even to this day (and especially today, my GOD today has been bad) the symptoms can just take over. This is serious shit. The real deal. THIS is the sort of stuff that tests you, that tests your relationships, that forces you to admit that your life is not in your hands. No, you're not dying. But damned if it doesn't feel like it sometimes.
So without further ado, here's a smidgen of the fun things you too can look forward to experiencing - either yourself, or vicariously through others. You lucky duck.
I am not talking about sleeping under too many blankets, and getting a little warm, and having to peel off a layer. I am not talking about just feeling a little damp.
I am talking about waking up in a puddle. Sweating so profusely that your fingers are pruny. Having all of your bedclothes - including the top of your comforter - completely soaked. I'm talking about flipping over your pillow, and finding that the other side is actually worse. I am talking about having to get out of bed - sometimes more then once a night, to take a shower, strip off all of the bedding, and sleep on a towel wrapped in your bathrobe because you have run out of blankets. That is, if you can sleep. Because we have another fun symptom:
Insomnia is a beast. I sleep for 3-4 hours at a stretch, and then I am awake for potentially the rest of the night. And the entire next day I will be a zombie, but I am afraid to nap in case I won't be able to sleep at night. Since I already sleep so little at night, the idea of sleeping even LESS is frightening. The thing about it is, during the night, while you are awake, you don't feel tired. You only feel tired when you are awake DURING THE DAY, say at about 11am. And again at about 1pm. And 4:30pm is really hard too.
These can come at night, and that is bad. But they also come with no warning, perhaps during a lovely meal or in the middle of your commute, or perhaps at the busiest time of your day - a time when you do not have a moment to spare.
But you have to take a minute.
Because all of a sudden, your entire head and upper body are suffocating. You can't breathe. You can't THINK. You can't stand it. You would strip naked right that second if you could, but usually you can't. So you just have to sit down, and wait. Wait for your head to stop spinning. Wait for the sweating to subside. Wait for the ringing in your ears to die down, and your pulse to slow and the panic to ease. You are not going to spontaneously burst into flame at any moment. I swear. Try not to cry or hit anyone. It won't help.
These are awful. These are not headaches. These are episodes where the pain is so bad that you might vomit. And cry. And walk out of work in the middle of something and go home (if you can even make it - sometimes you have to call for a ride) and crawl into bed and curl into a ball and just wait for it to be over. You won't care if you are going to get fired, you'll deal with it later. You don't care who you offend or inconvenience or blow off or disappoint because OH MY FUCKING GOD THE PAIN. The only way these can be worse is if you have a simultaneous hot flash.
What. The. Fuck. I used to have good skin. Yes, yes I did. I have no idea what happened.
I didn't change my cleanser. Or my moisturizer. I just woke up one day with a huge zit between my eyebrows, and since then it has been a real adventure. I think I have it under control now. Minimum washing, lots of moisturizer because THE WRINKLES come with THE ZITS and it is very very very depressing.
Well, it fit YESTERDAY. But it doesn't fit anymore. It might fit again next week. In the meantime, you will need to buy new clothes. Buy something stretchy and forgiving. These maxi dresses that are in style these days? Perfect. Embrace the muu muu.
Congratulations, you are a fucking Hair Farmer. You can grow hair anywhere, at a moment's notice. Chances are, the hair will grow in all sorts of places that you wish it wouldn't. In other words, it probably won't grow on your head. But you might be rocking a sweet guido 'stache and not even know it. The unibrow you thought was eradicated? Is back.
PMS is small potatoes compared to menopause. It might be because you feel so miserable to begin with. It might be because you are not sleeping. It might be because everyone is a stupid asshole. You are going to be moody. And you have to figure out a way to be moody, without being a total bitch. It's going to be very hard. I have found that the best technique is to just own it.
"I am feeling VERY UPSET right now, and if you do not go away, immediately, you will feel my burning wrath. I would suggest going far away and finding something else to do. Something quiet, so as not to draw attention to yourself. I don't want to yell at you, but I will."
I'm not kidding when I say that I have forgotten what I was going to write about this. I have begun putting reminders on my phone, with alarms, because otherwise I will not remember anything. Here's an example of how bad it can be: My husband returned a movie one day. I forgot he had taken care of it. I tore the house apart looking for the movie. He reminded me he had returned it. Two hours later, I searched the entire house again, because I wanted to put the movie with my purse - SO I WOULDN'T FORGET TO RETURN IT (oh, the irony). After a while I remembered that it was already returned. But then, a few hours after that, I was pulling out of the driveway to run an errand, and remembered that I needed to return the movie. I pulled back in the driveway, walked back to the house, unlocked the door, and went looking for the movie to return while I was in town.
I wish I was lying. It happened.
I can walk into a store for one item, say hello to the greeter at the front door, grab a basket, and then HAVE NO IDEA WHY I AM THERE. If I make an appointment, it has to be put into my phone immediately - or I will miss it. I took the dogs with me in the car one day, and got out of the car and walked in the house and left them in the back - and thank GOD my son was all "Uh, mom? The dogs?" because honestly they would have been in there until someone had found them and let them out. It can be very scary. Many times I feel like I am losing my mind. Seriously losing my mind. Most of the situations are pretty harmless, but leaving the dogs in the car was a near-tragedy. And I can say without a doubt that the forgetfulness will be one of the single most disruptive parts of menopause for you and your co-workers and friends and family. It is really hard to deal with, and it is hard to explain when it just happens over and over again.
So that, in a nutshell, is just a short list of some of the fun things you can expect with menopause.
Keep in mind, that when you are interacting with a woman who may seem irrational or ornery, she could be experiencing any of the above - or possibly ALL of the above. Doesn't make it any more pleasant to deal with her, but you know, maybe she has a good reason for being such an unreasonable douche. And as a side note, depression is a serious possibility, so if you are having a hard time dealing with all of this call your doctor. Nothing wrong with a little Vitamin X to make your life easier at a time when every damn thing seems so hard.
5 hours ago