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Perimenopause – Yes it’s Real & No, You’re Not Going Crazy

Posted Aug 10 2009 3:09pm

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Feel better?  I could have used someone telling me that about 10 years ago when I walked right into one of the fiercest hormonal battles of my life.  First of all, I had never heard of peri- anything.  Menopause?  Yeah.  I had heard of that.  My mom called it “the change” and I knew that sooner or later it would happen.  I just had no clue exactly when or how. But, peri- menopause?  Ummm, no.

My mother was fully menopausal in her early 40’s.  I thought it might happen that way for me. too.   That is, I would turn 40-something and then it would just happen.  Yeah.  Stop. Just like that. But at 51 and still getting that monthly visitor, well, it’s safe to say it didn’t happen that way and I’m now charting my own unique path. 

So what is this thing called perimenopause and how exactly does one get it??? Well, the word “Peri” simply means, “around or about”.  So, technically, perimenopause is “around or about menopause”  You are approaching it, but you’re not completely there yet.   I guess in our mother’s day this time would have just been called…”going through the change”.  You’ve heard that right? 

That’s what my mother always said when she talked about women who were in the middle of it.  “She’s going through the change”.   It always had this ominous ring to it and she always said it with great sympathy in her voice. Like, “the poor girl, she’s going through the change”  And well, now I can see why.  It’s brutal.  We need all the sympathy we can get.

For me, it started when I was 41.  I had this “phantom period” as they call it, that essentially came from no where and for no apparent reason.  phantom

No signs or signals that it was coming… just showed up, unannounced - and definately uninvited.

I didn’t give too much attention to it until I unexpectedly conceived my last child.

She was a pleasant surprise, however, and definately the best thing that came out of that very tumultuous time. 

So, this phantom period comes along, I get baby number three and then, BAM!  It happened.  The hormone ride from hell.

Having never had bonofide PMS, I can’t say I had much experience with what began to happen to me.  But can I also use it as an excuse for my complete inability to cope? 

I started having heavy periods.  Like so heavy I couldn’t leave the house.  Then it swung to the other side and I would simply spot for a couple of days.  There was never any rhyme or reason to it and I couldn’t predict from month to month what would happen.  I just had to hang on and cross that bridge when I got there.  Then the crazy mood swings hit.

Now, when I say mood swings, I do not mean I was a little testy.  I mean I was full throttle into MOOD SWINGS!  One day I would wake up and I would be paralyzed with depression.  I would cry uncontrollably over commercials.  I could hardly get out of bed.

dorthy__s_slippers Then, that would pass and the wicked witch of the west would show up and I didn’t have any red shoes I could click to get home…….. she hung around and tortured me.  Or should I say, she hung around and I   tortured my family?

My eyes would bulge out of my head, veins would pop out of my neck, I would scream and rant for days. Who  was this woman and where did she come from?

And so it went, month after month.  For years.  Now, I suppose I could do a snappy, blog appropriate list of all the symptoms I had, but I won’t bore you with that.  Suffice it to say, I had them all and you can find most of them here.    My main desire at the moment is to encourage any of you that are now in the middle of, the beginning of, or like me, at the back side of this strange and curious time called “perimenopause”.

You are not going crazy and it is very real .   So real in fact, that approximately 80% of women experience it in one form or another. Your hormones are rocking and rolling, trying to find a new place to settle down so that you can begin Volume II of your life.  But, while that is happening there is great turbulence. 

I can’t offer a cure-all for you.  But I can encourage you and tell you that “this too shall pass”.  Though I still get that dreaded visitor every month, the dips and turns that I went through for the first few years are not as deep and definately not as extreme.  For the most part, things have settled down for me and I’m waiting (though I can’t say patiently) for the ultimate “pause” to occur.

My dear cyber friend Eileen, over at “The Feisty side of Fifty ” tells me to hang in there, that the best is coming.  I can’t wait.  I’m counting on it being a huge payoff for the pain I’ve had to endure for the past ten years.  That is the way it works right?  Pain and then the gain?  Let’s hope so.

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