O kay, ladies, after my last post where I addressed the men in our lives in an effort to help them understand and hopefully cope with our perimenopause; it occurred to me that we should also discuss exactly how much responsibility us gals feel we should be taking when it comes to how our perimenopause is affecting our spouses, our children and maybe even small dogs.
So lay down your weapons. Let’s talk. First of all, I know what some of you are thinking already………
“Hey! Wait a minute! That’s not fair! We are the one who are suffering, not them! Let them have this hell for a month or two! Then they’ll know how it really feels!”
And that is true – just not completely. They are suffering too. Unfortunately, way too often, it is those closet to us who bear the brunt of our raging hormones. It is a very unpleasant, unintended, but real side-effect. We just cannot deny the deleterious effect it is having on them as well. Take for example, this comment posted by a daughter of a woman going through perimenopause on a forum discussing said perimenopause:
She’s sarcastic with everything you say to her no matter how nice or sweet it is, she doesn’t care about anything unless it involves herself, and she FLIPS OUT over the LITTLEST things. I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE! SHES INSANE!
I try to deal with her as LITTLE as possible and just avoid doing things that make her act crazy but it seems like its unavoidable! Its soooo annoying i [sic] just wanna put MYSELF out of my OWN misery living here!
Now, I’m going to be honest and tell you that my first thoughts here were, “what a selfish daughter you are!” Clearly this young person is offering no sympathy or compassion whatsoever to her mother and what she is going through! No woman, and I repeat, no woman, in her right mind (and when you are in the clutches of perimenopause, you are NOT in your right mind) would choose to be an out of control, raging hormonal maniac! Not one.
However, that said, and no matter how true this is, it is also true that it is extremely difficult for those around us to cope with it as well. I know we all want our husbands to be a solid rock for us during this time. And perhaps often times they are. But, they are human too and certainly our children are as well. So, perhaps it’s not fair of us to expect or even want them to be almost God-like toward us when we are clearly channeling the devil. Though I will confess, it would be nice if they could.
So What Can We Do Then?
Well, first of all, let’s realize we are not powerless. Not completely. I know when we are in the throws of a hormonally induced mood-swing, night sweats, hot flashes or endless nights of insomnia rendering us completely and utterly exhausted, we certainly FEEL out of control. And in some cases, frankly, we are. But, there are still things that can do to help our loved ones and in doing so, hopefully, we will help ourselves as well.
Use Pre-Emptive Strikes
Yep. A simple heads-up is a great place to start. Once it has been established that you are indeed going through perimenopause, a good honey-we-need-to-talk-type-of- conversation might be in order.
Explain to your husband and family what perimenopause is. No, they don’t know! It’s happening to you, not them! Explain what the symptoms are and what they can likely expect. And if you’ve been in that “not so nice place” already, then you can help them understand why.
Let them know from the get-go, it’s not them or anything they’ve done or not done. And while you’re at it, go ahead let them know the average time for most women in perimenopause is 5 to 10 years. So, if they feel they may need to invest in a prescription for Prozac or Valium, now might be a good time.
Bring in Outside Resources
For some husbands and kids, a good book might be useful. For husbands especially, it is helpful if they can see it or read it somewhere else. It seems to validate it more for them if they can see some real scientific, concrete evidence for your complete and total loss of sanity.
I’ve seen a few books here and there that are written especially for men, but if you can’t find one, just look for something that is straight foward and offers a good explanation for what is happening. It would be really great if you could find one written by men for men.
Keep Everyone Informed & Aware of Your Cycles
I know this may seem a little weird. Especially for your children. But, m arking days on a centrally located calendar (which was one of my personal strategies) can be helpful as well. If family members have a general idea when “hell week” (as I so affectionately referred to it ) will occur, then they too can brace themselves for any potential melt-downs. (Or find the nearest bunker – whichever seems more practical )
However, also be sure and let them know that perimenopause is not always a cooperative hormone-buddy. In fact, one of the classic hallmarks of perimenopause is the unpredictability. So, try as we may to nail it down, it doesn’t always work that way. It’s like shadow chasing. This element alone was enough to drive me absolutely mad. But, let them know anyway. You’re trying to be helpful, remember?
Let Everyone Know You Are Seeing a Doctor and What You Will Be Doing About It
If you’ve already seen a doctor and you’re on supplements, bioidentical hormones, antidepressants, traditional HRT or even birth control pills. Let them know. If you haven’t seen a doctor yet – get thee to one quickly. If you are one of those brave souls who plans to get through this time without any of the above, well, I hate you, and you can scratch this section.
For the rest of us, it is helpful if our family sees that we are trying to do something about the crazy symptoms. If we are taking personal responsibility they will see that and every little bit helps.
If All Your Best Efforts Fail – Then What?
Yeah. Now what, Mags? I’ve done everything you suggested and I still turned into a fire-breathing dragon, scorched the entire earth with my raging mood swings and have sent my children and husband scampering for cover. Again. So what do I do now?
Apologize. Apologize. Apologize.
Yes. You heard me. Apologize. Perhaps you already do this. Good for you. It certainly became a regular M.O. for me. I would make the rounds and tell everyone I was sorry for things I said, how I behaved and for anything that may have gotten broken in the process. (just kidding ) Then I would remind them once again what was happening and ask them for forgiveness and some grace. This goes a long way ladies. A humbleapology is rarely rejected by those who love you!
Finally, Give Yourself Some Grace
One of my biggest shortcomings, I think, is that I tend to come down very hard on myself for my mistakes and failures. Compound this with the fact that I also tend to be a control freak and perimenopause is a recipe for total neurosis. Think about it: a control freak trying to control the uncontrollable and then beating myself up for failing to control the uncontrollable. Yeah. Psycho.
But, it’s become very clear to me that giving myself a big fat break during this time is extremely helpful. When you blow it, own up to it and move on. There’s really nothing more that you can do. The quicker we realize this and accept it, then the easier it is for everyone. Especially you. And remember, ladies. This is but a time. It is not a lifelong death sentence.
WOW!!!! This article is about ME!!! My poor husband and daughters, say exactly the same things about ME!! I threw my husband's reading glasses across the room today, AFTER I had picked up his FULL coffee mug, but relented!! I am glad to know I am not going mad! This totally sucks....