Oh Girlfriends, let me tell you…

I’m struggling right now and it’s certainly REAL!  

I’ve dropped hints about this topic recently, but it’s official: I am going through “The Change”. Even the very name of this life event name sounds like a horror movie! I’m guessing “The Change” is every bit as scary as The ExorcistThe Fog, The MistThe DescentThe Blob, and The Shining, etc. In any case, many of these titles quite accurately EXPRESS what I’m feeling in menopause – fog, mist, descent, blob…

This is a BIG change too – don’t let anyone belittle this alteration of all that’s familiar about being a woman. While I’m not comfortable listing all of the symptoms on my blog, here are a few of the more socially acceptable ones I will mention. Notice how they all seem to roll together, like a crazy mixed-up game of falling dominos: 

  • Hot flashes – due to dwindling supply of critical life-balancing hormones
  • Night sweats – due to hot flashes
  • Insomnia – due to night sweat
  • Mood swings and forgetfulness – due to insomnia
  • Lack of energy and strength – due to the mood swings and forgetfulness
  •  Hair thinning and body parts, um, shifting – due to lack of energy and strength

Oh, there’s plenty more, and while this is probably not a medically accurate list of cause and effect, I think it’s a pretty good snapshot of what this “phase of life” looks like. Super pretty, huh? And it’s probably worth mentioning that I’m not talking about a few days of the month anymore! I’m talking about every single day of the week… for every single day of the month…. for every single year… for the rest of my life! I’m sorry, but WHAT THE WHAT $%?!#%$#&?!?

My poor children, I do feel bad for them when I can stand back and think of it rationally (which I’ve already mentioned is challenging right now). They huddle in piles, huddle in layers, and huddle in front of space heaters, while I’m stripping down to whatever minimum clothing levels are acceptable for a parent (and to avoid a DCFS investigation). My precious blessings stare through the windows at me with disbelief, as I stand outside in my skivvies and let winter rage against my bare skin. 

I am hopelessly and endlessly hot and cold at the same time. It’s like my internal thermostat is as confused as my hormones and my mind. I am a living, breathing bottle of Icy Hot right now. I pile layers on to stop the goosebumps and chattering teeth, only to strip everything off the next minute when the heat coming off my body STEAMS UP MY GLASSES (re-enforcing another ridiculous fact of age, because without them I cannot see anything anymore).  

I’m calling these episodes now. These are not just hot flashes friends, these are epic episodes that totally disrupt my existence.  Think Baby Jack-Jack and you’ll get a pretty clear mental picture of my life right now.

In the ultimate game of catch 22, I can also trigger an episode just by thinking about putting on too many layers. Boots must be worn with footies, not tights; sweaters must have buttons up the front to easily shed, not pullovers; scarves must be loose and open, not restricting the neck in any way. The internal gauge is so off that I’ve experienced several episodes where I felt a blackout was eminent. I’m talking about darkness pushing in from the exterior corners of the eye during what I can only surmise is a massive heat overload of my core systems! 

This transition has become so overwhelming, that I’ve considered buying “estrogen” off the streets. Well, maybe not, but I have concluded that estrogen is my drug of choice and I have zero intention of giving it up cold turkey. After one particular December morning when I endured three hard episodes before mid-morning, I decided to cry “uncle” and consider my options for hormone replacement theory (HRT). Or maybe it was the same day my 13-year-old son researched menopause and felt it necessary to discuss HRT with me in some sort of twisted irony. I can’t quite remember (again, see above) which of those reasons inspired me the most to pick up the phone and call my doctor!

Nearly every single aspect of being a woman is difficult with the great “change” waiting for us at the finish line. As a young girl, you learn to handle the challenges of being a woman that occurs monthly, and as a young mother, you learn to give up your body for nearly a year to sustain your baby, and maybe even another year as you nurse said baby(ies). We learn to deal with the changes that come with being a woman in increments: days to weeks to months and finally to years.  

To the sisters ahead of me in life, God love ya for what you’ve endured. To the sisters behind me in life, God help ya for what lies ahead. As I said in the beginning, the struggle of being a woman is real. We all have too just figure out the best way to cross that finish line ……ideally, with as many clothes on our body and hairs on our head as possible!