Remember when you experienced the actual onset of your first period? You'd been taught in PE health class what to expect by viewing films of exuberant pubescent girls happily bowling or roller skating after experiencing their first sight of blood in a place not known to Man. "It's fantastic!" "Something to look forward to!" You expected exaltation from above as your mother lovingly takes you to the closet and hands you a wrapped gift of Kotex. Advertising. Unfortunately, it didn’t work this way and many of us have embarrassing recollections of that transition……it happened in the middle of science class, while singing in choir, or the 7 th grade spring dance. What really just happened?
Today in 2009, as grown and matured women, we know even less about what’s going to happen when we reverse that transition and go back once again to life without tampons. Only we’re not actually reversing it, but pushing forward to a whole different part of our life…just as we did 40 or so years ago. Why do we fear this getting older so much, being faced with this experience called ‘menopause’ that we know little about? We’ve may remember something about mom being ‘touchy’ and throwing the spatula across the kitchen and hearing about something called ‘hot flashes’ . We may remember that for a period of time during the winter that the thermostat wasn’t allowed to go past 60! Very often, we find ourselves coming into this ‘transition’ suddenly and unexpectedly, not quite understanding that it doesn’t just happen overnight and it doesn’t mean that you just stop having a period! Period.
Think about it….would we really want this change of life to not occur? We start our ‘life changes’ at birth, into growth and development, then on to the transition from a ‘girl’ to a ‘woman’. Then we most likely will go through our 20s & 30’s, even into 40’s having a child, or trying to have a child, or making the decision not to. Is this a major life change? Absolutely! No matter which direction you go, your hormones begin reacting accordingly. Progesterone kicks in during pregnancy, your hair gets thicker, your nails no longer tear, and you don’t have periods. We all know about PMS, and understand it’s because of hormones changing during our cycle. We talk about it, “It’s the hormones! “, “She’s being extremely emotional, must be about to start her period!” Or “It’s her time of the month… let her be for a couple of days, don’t push her over the edge….and give her chocolate!” So why don’t we react the same when somewhere between 35 to 55 we begin experiencing the same kind of symptoms….. and then some?!
How often do you hear someone say they’re too young for menopause, or too often that their doctor tells them that? Yes, even at 35 we can begin witnessing PMS symptoms, be it pre-menstrual or peri-menopausal. You can be rolling right along still having that normal period the 3 rd week of each month but hormones have already begun to shift venues….beginning to change the balance enough that symptoms of menopause can occur. I was blessed to have a female ObGyn who told me at 37 that these ‘hot feelings’ I was occasionally feeling shortly after having my son were very likely symptoms of menopause….perimenopause! Being someone always in tune with my body after once experiencing a severe head injury, I knew that it was time to start paying even more attention to myself and find out what else was in the future for perimenopause. Expecting to live life to its fullest until at least 101, I knew it was time to shift gears and learn more about what my body was in for! Since I had already experienced many life transitions and transformations, some chosen…some not, I knew that the next 63 years would offer many more opportunities to transform even further. Why shouldn’t it just get better and better?!
After rehabbing my life from a brain injury I knew that this time too wouldprobably offer ‘good days and bad days’. There were days during my rehab that I couldn’t recall my mother’s first name, or whether I was using a tooth brush or hair brush on my teeth at night. It took word searching through a mental ‘file cabinet’ to find what word I was looking for. Sometimes it took just a few seconds...other times a few hours, or days! Can this happen during perimenopause? ABSOLUTELY!
Many of the brain functions are driven by hormones and when they become imbalanced, so do we. Many brain injury survivors say that the worst reaction from an injury can be the loss of emotion. Me, I was happy all the time! Sounds great until you realize you can’t cry or feel the normal emotion you once did while watching a news report of some tragic event. Not crying during Old Yeller? Ahhh….but unfortunately, it’s not the happy hormone that hang around while our hormones teeter totter, but the unhappy ones, often making us feel depressed unexplainably. The hypothalamus in our brain regulates our sleep and body temperature, hunger, fatigue, and anger. So when the brain and its components aren’t getting what they need, the body doesn’t know how to respond.
So you’re thinking, maybe a Ferrari IS the way to go! You’re better off applying that momentary happiness into a long term solution. Respond to that intuition you’ve often ignored, you know it’s there. Learn more about what YOU can do when symptoms occur…no need to ignore and hope they’ll go away. There are solutions. Empower yourself by studying about menopause and understand what happens to your body during this life transition, share your information with others. You CAN be the person you’ve always thought you could be. This is definitely a time that many women choose to make life changes, transformations. This is the time that it’s ALL ABOUT YOU….grab hold and fly with it!