Oh, the wonderful time of menopause! Does it have to be hot, emotional and a somewhat crazy time of life for a middle-aged female? Being middle-aged is bad enough, suddenly all the joys of our youth have vanished. Wrinkles start to sprout on the once firm skin, parts begin to sag in unusual places and suddenly you are aware of the global warming everyone is talking about. Only global warming is not happening in the atmosphere it is happening right where you are, in your very space!
So to answer the question does it have to be hot, emotional and crazy, well, yes, sort of, but with a bit of understanding, you can survive this passing portion of you life, you can slide right through it and end up a far better woman for the experience.
Oh sure, you say, but have you gone through it? The answer to that question is yes, it is over and I am still smiling, still married and looking forward to the next thirty or so productive years ahead of me.
So how did I do it without committing murder, turning into a witch or jumping off the nearest bridge?
Perseverance mostly, I made a decision that I was not going to let something that is a natural process of becoming a mature female get the better of me. Was it easy? Of course not! Actually at times it was downright frustrating, maddening, and dad blasted hot.
The hot flashes, flushes or whatever you choose to call them were quite irritating and embarrassing. Especially if you have two teenage daughters that enjoyed seeing you suffer. They loved seeing the car windows on a cool morning steam up on my side of the car when a hot flash was in process. And I won’t even go into the amount of hours spent readjusting the bed covers on my side of the bed when trying to get a good night’s sleep.
I can’t even begin to tell you the number of commercials I watched that made me cry for no reason at all. Or the fact that one kind word would throw me into a fit of happy tears, but one wrong word would turn me into the wicked witch of the north. Oh! Those were such interesting times.
So, you see it was not all happy times and fun games, it really was a time of learning about myself and coping with a situation I really had no physical control over.
How did I do it and still keep my family’s life more or less in tact, along with my own well being?
First of all, by taking deep breaths and knowing that this was not forever! Realizing that this was an active part of growing up, yes, even middle-aged females have a chance to grow up and decide what they are going to be, when they actually do grow up.
The “change of life” or “the rite of passage,” as some choose to call it, is a sign of growth. We leave behind those parts of us that defined us as “younger women” and we take time to realize that we really are strong, full of self worth are growing wiser with each passing day.
The lives most of us live as wives, mother, working women and housewives is so hectic, we seldom take time to even think of a moment for ourselves. In the scheme of a busy day having some private time for a normal morning constitutional is considered privileged time and many of us consider ourselves lucky if we have that.
So how are we supposed to face this particular time of our lives when our bodies seem to be going haywire and the turbulence we feel going on inside, creates a panic we are not certain how to handle.
It is said that about 15 percent of us slide through this period of change with no problems at all, but the rest of us suffer the mood swings, hot flashes, weight gain, insomnia, crying and other changes.
Many of our doctors recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy; estrogen is the most commonly prescribed drug in pill form. This treatment is not risk free and should be considered only with a great deal of thought, discussion and research on your part. I personally traveled through my change experience by facing each day’s challenges and pursuing onward without the help of medication.
Each person has to think for herself, as there are other alternatives you can follow. For me, the knowledge of a possible risk of endometrial cancer, gallbladder disease, and blood clots that can cause a stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolus was enough to keep me away from HRT. I am not recommending anyone follow my way of thinking, as it is important that you listen to your body.
I happen to have a philosophy that serves me well and I will offer it to you, to use with discretion of course. I know my body better than anyone else, including my doctor and I listen to what it tells me. By listening to what it is telling me, I have instinctively been able to stay quite healthy and drug free.
One of the main concerns when proceeding through this thing called the change is Osteoporosis. As we age, our bone density become thinner and more brittle; we American’s seem more prone to it than do our other sisters.
Why? Mostly do to genetics, lifestyle, diet and our general health. Exercise is one of the most important things we can do for our bodies, not only in terms of weight management, but also in warding off osteoporosis. Walking and other weight bearing exercises will do wonders for your bones and for your mood. Activity during your menopause years can help you manage your mood swings, I am not suggesting strenuous exercise, but things in moderation, just a walk around the block and taking a few minutes for yourself will do wonders for your mood.
Yoga is great for those so inclined, acupuncture has helped many reduce hot flashes, stopping smoking has helped some and cutting back on alcohol has helped others.
However I think the greatest thing you can do for yourself is taking time to nourish yourself. I read a quotation once that said, “Menopause is a metamorphosis, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. The caterpillar needs a cocoon and so do you.”
During this time of growth, you owe it to yourself to go into your cocoon, your cave, or a special place and shut yourself in. The children have grown, you have spent most of your life nourishing your family’s growth, taking care of their needs and wants and it is now time to reverse the role and to take care of you.
By doing this you will be benefiting yourself, your family, and maybe even your job. It is during this time of growth that our abilities and our senses are heightened and we become more open to inner guidance, inspiration and illumination. But only, if we give ourselves time alone, to be free of responsibility, if only for a short hour, we owe it to ourselves and to the person we are growing into.
The good news about this system of change that we are forced to go through is that within two to five years it is all gone and we have grown a wee bit older and much wiser. In the meantime if we are so inclined there are many natural treatments for menopause, herbs are known to help, such as black cohosh, red clover extract, ground flaxseed, vitamin E is also helpful. With the benefit of the Internet there are endless sources of information about menopause.
But the most important thing we can do for ourselves is to learn to relax, to go with the flow, let little things slide off our backs, smile more and stay close to an air conditioning duct.