‘Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman!’ – your damn skippy Ms. Wynette! No one said it better 🙂 from time to time it feels as women, we have been offered the crappy end of the stick. It starts from a young age when no one ever tells you the joys that are ahead or that you are supposed to suck it all up with a stiff upper lip (no visible moustache please) and be careful not to put on any weight or heaven forbid show signs of aging!
I take my hat off to the women who have gone before us who were unable to openly discuss the delights of menopause – many of them probably thought they were just going mad and that this was pretty much the end of being someone who society values. I have noticed lately though that even now when I talk to other women about the joys of perimenopause, they are eager to talk but still in hushed tones!
It feels like you are just getting over the hormonal upheaval of childbirth and you finally shift that stubborn baby weight (I had my last child at 45) when the joys of perimenopause are upon you! it creeps up stealthily pretty much around your middle 🙂 It felt like almost overnight I was wearing a rubber ring. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘Where the heck did that come from?’ – it must be bad lighting! Lol.
Then there are the joys of hot flashes, mood swings, irrational anxiety, brain fog (that’s been a joy working in an environment where my colleagues forget nothing!) not to mention broken sleep, weight gain, and general all-round crappiness. Now, I know there will be some women who have been planted on this earth as aliens and have breezed through menopause without so much as a bead of sweat on their upper lip or an ounce of extra stuffing, however, that’s not been the case for everyone.
Reflecting back over my life, I realise I have been a slave to my hormones 🙂 From fairly bad PMT, PND and the like – the hormones in my body have been pretty unforgiving and may I add not very considerate! I often wonder how I have managed to stay married 🙂 Anyone who has had PND will know that it’s not something you can just snap out of – the hormonal imbalance took time and TLC to rectify.
I did decide at the very onset of perimenopause though that I was not going to take any medication or HRT – God, me and a good diet were going to be enough. (no reflection on anyone who has had HRT – just not something I want to do) so, I decided I needed to look at what I ate and how it affected the symptoms and also exercise (which needs to be something I have fun with and don’t acknowledge as formal exercise – or I won’t do it! arms crossed in defiance)
I’m probably almost a year into perimenopause and to be quite honest some of the low points have been psychological rather than physical – erm, like admitting I’m getting older! Cycling has been a massive help in helping with a positive mental health outlook – I am even cycling in the rain which is a revelation to me as well most of my social circle. I know how to rock a pair of waterproof trousers. (Did I mention I have hair straighteners in 3 locations?!) and my hair is straight (hehe).
One of the worst symptoms was hot flashes – now I didn’t sweat (I have seen this in action and it is soooo not nice – just all of a sudden pouring with sweat) and for some reason, all of the women who it happened to felt they had to explain it. Mine was just feeling really, really hot like I must have been emitting gamma rays! it was worse at night – the duvet was on and off like a yo-yo (payback for my husband’s snoring). This is the first winter that I didn’t wear any thick jumpers for fear of cooking from the inside out. So, I decided that I wasn’t going to accept it as part of the package and to look at how what I was eating was contributing. Around the same time, I decided to cut out dairy in all its forms – and hey, presto I suddenly realised after about 2-3 weeks the hot flashes had stopped. and they haven’t come back.
I do my utmost to eat unprocessed foods and since going plant-based and dairy-free the rubber ring around my middle is decreasing! My hair and skin are looking better and my mood has improved. One unexpected response from my body since my dietary change has been its clear complaining when I eat something it doesn’t like – good or bad – my body tells me very quickly when I have ingested something its not keen on and I am able to eliminate it. (Our bodies are incredibly intuitive and powerful, but that’s another blog post).
My love of coffee is the last bastion of my old lifestyle that I just can’t let go of yet (but it does exacerbate anxiety) I am switching to fresh ground and not instant – so will let you know how I get on. My mood swings have calmed down (not sure if my husband would agree or the kids!) and I am beginning to see the positives in being at this stage of my life; no more monthly curse (great when planning trips and going on holiday!), being wiser and more thoughtful, having the desire to exercise more, walk, dance, learn and share, embrace past mistakes and move forward and generally appreciate life and re-evaluate it – and most importantly watch how fruit, vegetables, pulses, and nuts can change our bodies for the better.
I promise anyone in cyberspace who maybe even a little interested in how things progress that I will be honest if some things don’t work as well and would love to hear from others who have some great tips for rocking the menopause and coming out the other side looking and feeling amazing.