Monday, March 12, 2012

Self-Care at Menopause

If you are in the throes of menopause and have spent any time browsing the web, you know that there are many sites proclaiming to have the answer : progesterone cream, hormonal treatments, natural supplements, wicking pyjamas, all kinds of products.  I just did a quick tour of the some of Top 30 Menopause Blogs and came away dizzy with the array. They make it sound like menopause is a disease!

What is different with my approach is that I believe self-awareness is key. Yes, you may need to change doctors if yours doesn't believe that you are in perimenopause at age 46 and that you are too young! and yes, herbal remedies and homeopathy got me through my six year perimenopausal journey - motherwort for anxiety and red clover for hot flashes. But the midlife transition for me was not so much a physical event as a major emotional upheaval. It was more of a quest for self, actually.

I was impatient, irritable and flew off the handle easily. Was it triggered by hormones? was it the fact that my kids had hit puberty and were cranky cavemen and self-centered fashionistas? Perhaps we were all a little wonky due to hormones. My poor husband! But really, instead of putting myself away in a straitjacket, the best solution was to get the self-care I needed. Part of that included talk therapy, reiki treatments, massage and getting away on weekend retreats to feed my need for alone time.

In fact, getting away and having time alone to think was very helpful. I did not want my family to suffer from my outbursts, and I recognized that I needed more time alone. Being a writer, there is always a conflict between solitary writing time and taking care of meals, laundry, house management time. Buying an older house and renovating it completely, top to bottom, probably added to my stress level too. But in having the courage to face the down times and the feeling like I'm going crazy times (and in having wonderful girlfriend to cry on their shoulder with), and in journaling my journey, I got through it.

It all seems in the distant past now, my kids have recently left home for university in different cities, so my creative time is all mine. In the last two years, I have discovered that working with other women in facilitating workshops and retreats is fulfilling me much more than sitting in my little office writing. I think the journey through our forties and fifties is a huge wake-up call for self-care, for discovering what we love, for seeking and finding our authentic selves. We stop being able to play the game, or fulfilling the surface roles society demands of us. We need to feel connected to our heart's desires, and something deep inside keeps bugging us until we pay attention.

It may take some digging, some writing, some researching and reflecting, but it's worth it. Take the time, and make the time for you. Make finding yourself and your happiness an item on your agenda. Stop burning the candle at both ends in working late and ignoring your needs for regular meals and sleep. Your menopause will be smoother if you slow down and take care of your needs.

take care now

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