Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Own Private Summer

One word strikes fear into the hearts of middle-aged women everywhere. Menopause!

In my late 40’s I started forgetting people’s names or places I had been. It was, “you know, that lady with the red hair”… Or, “C’mon, we’ve been to that restaurant a million times, you know, the place with the fish tank in it”. My family would look at me like I was crazy because I had always had a mind like a steel trap. I started having insomnia around the age of 50. It developed into panic attacks and night sweats. Suddenly it was like an alien inhabited my body. Or that movie where the girl’s head spins around and the devil’s voice comes out of her. And I didn’t take any stuff from anyone anymore!

I had no idea who this woman was that I had become. One minute I would be laughing and the next minute so mad I could spit and the next minute crying. I tried to maintain a sense of calm and a sense of humor as I worked with almost 100 men at the time and it was, to say the least, not fun. Especially when they would try to be “helpful” and tell me all the stories of experiences they had with their wives going through “the change”. Embarrassing to hear and deal with at work to say the least! And it was also the first time I had ever been called the B word to my face at work. Not behind my back but actually to my face!

And suddenly I had a muffin top when I wasn’t wearing tight jeans! Where in the heck did my waist go? I had always been a large woman but had always had an hourglass figure. My girlfriends and I started calling the hot flashes “our own private summer”. Heater on, fan on, heater on, fan on, jacket on, sweater off, jacket on, sweater off, blankets on, blankets off, blankets on, blankets off. I was turning schizophrenic.

It was also hard because I lost my libido. I just didn’t care anymore. Part of it was probably due to being a caregiver and giving so much of myself that I had nothing left to give in the bedroom and part of it was probably depression due to the breakup of my relationship. But it was gone and I didn’t know where to find it! I tried some pills the doctor gave me and promptly put on 12 pounds of what she termed water weight. I term it, oh great not again!

But I made it through all the drama and uneasiness of the process and guess what? My libido came back, the hot flashes stopped, my moods evened out, and I can even sleep through most of the night and with most of the blankets!

But the best part of going through menopause was that I found a voice for myself. I didn’t care what people thought of me anymore. I felt more at ease with myself. I still don’t like the extra weight and have a plan to tackle that issue later this month. But I learned to speak up and defend my opinions and myself. And I’m hoping through this holistic makeover that I will be able to get stronger and verbalize even clearer my experiences and pass that message on to other women. It is actually a freeing experience! And with the right vitamins and taking care of yourself can be a relatively painless one too. I just hope you don’t work with lots of men!! By the way, they all survived too. One guy told me near the end of the experience, “Hey Kat, you’re on the downhill side!” I said, “Yes but on the uphill side of life”!! Joylicious!!~

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