Yep, I'm talking about it.
We're back to another 40 Lessons over 40 blog where I share all of the things I have learned since hitting my forties. Today I want to talk about what I have learned since entering perimenopause (almost there, menopause! I'm coming for you!) fairly early in my forties.
A little Backstory first.
I have always been fairly regular with my cycle, though I did discover a thyroid condition a little later in life than I would have liked which, having discovered it a little earlier, might have saved me years and years of super heavy periods, and probably some embarrassment as well.
In fact, it wasn't until after my third son was born that I was actually sent to the ER by my doctor after I ended up hemorrhaging one fine afternoon and decided an office visit would suffice. This is what you do when you are used to living like this. A quick surgery later and I was all set to finally have normal periods going forward. While most women don't really get much of a period after having the ablation surgery that I underwent, I still did -- quite regularly, in fact. I would find out this was fairly short lived, however, because another surprise was in store for me!
Basically, my periods became less and less frequent until they were almost gone all together. I have been irregular and on my way to almost full blown menopause for a few years now and I'm thinking this year might be my year to say goodbye all together to Aunt Flo.
Now don't worry, this blog isn't going to be all about my menstrual cycle - and you are welcome for the TMI. In fact, it's the other surprises that have come along with the hormonal changes that have really thrown me for a loop that I thought I would share with you today.
Changes that I have gone through since nearing full-on menopause:
• Anxiety. For a person who has always had anxiety (since birth I'm pretty sure - lucky me), this period in life -- no pun intended -- has been just a joy. A JOY. I have experienced anxieties I didn't know were even possible. I have anxious about being anxious! Yeah, that is an actual thing. And the cruelest part of it all is that these newfound anxieties managed to wreak havoc on the things I loved doing the most. For example, I love to travel. I love planes, trains and automobiles. Road trip? Sign me up.
Post 40, my new body chemistry decided to give me full on anxiety attacks when I attempted to travel, however. This was not convenient for doing business events and even for long road trips, but you know what? I pushed through them. I couldn't let them win. They were awful and crippling and took over my whole body, but I never let them win because an even bigger fear was giving in to them. And then what would my life look like? I am happy to report that I am on the other side of all of that now and have taken two planes plus a few very long road trips in 2021. How did I do it? A lot of self care, self talk, exercise and a new morning routine, which I detail in the January segment of our facebook group.
• Migraines. Hello and my condolences to those of you that have been affected by migraine headaches forever. I have not been blessed with these, but when I started to get them -- the kind that start behind my right eye and work their way through the right side of my head, leaving me nauseous and light sensitive? Yeah, no fun at all. There isn't much I can do except try to manage triggers. Any tips? I'm all ears.
• Skin, hair, vision and all kinds of physical changes. I began to notice some things changing on my body, like my skin deciding to try to age all of a sudden and, at the same time, developing acne. What? I hadn't had a break out since high school and prided myself in having pretty nice skin, but now I was like an awkward teen trying to developing a new cleansing routine while at the same time plucking chin hairs that appeared out of nowhere like some gnarled version of Witchy Poo.
Now, if that wasn't enough, my already prematurely grey, coarse, crazy hair started going into a state that would rival Medusa. Out came the new creams and potions and reading blogs and watching videos and going back to formulating my skincare line for my now super sensitive skin. These things all helped. They did.
So, while I have had to do a little laser hair removal research, the rest sort of took care of itself with new products, a better diet and a really good hair stylist.
And then came the body changes. Friends. I have never been the kind of girl who could eat whatever she wanted. In fact, I have dieted since I was in utero I'm pretty sure. I hate that part of my life, the body image part, the part where it is just so freaking hard when something like eating and fitting into clothes should just be normal and natural, not all consuming and surely not agonizing. The beginning-to-accept-yourself part of life that finally starts to happen when you approach forty and then, as yet another cruel twist of fate, forty comes along and gives you belly fat.
I had been lucky in one area when it came to my body. I always had a thin waist and thin-ish upper body. I battled fat everywhere else and now.....Come on. I have done a lot of work on this and have to now eat very nutritious food, work out regularly and I even do intermittent fasting. As I sit here and type this blog, I am drinking water and black coffee. I won't eat anything or have anything to drink other than those two things until about noon and I get up at 5 am. It's working -- slowly, maybe, but I'm okay with that.
So, those are the main areas of my life that this journey to menopause has affected. There are others, of course, but that's for another blog post. I'll leave you with these gems of TMI wisdom and experience. Why? Because you might be struggling through what I have gone through and maybe this will help you relate, and give you hope in knowing that most of it is temporary. You can do this, Girlfriend.
Come join us in the facebook group for a whole year of wellness if you would want a little company, though, during this wild ride you are on...because no one needs to suffer alone. We're here for ya!