Friday, October 12, 2012

Getting through it: Menopausal Minefield

How did I survive it, I wonder sometimes? Looking back at the time I spent in sleepless nights, feeling like I was going crazy, weeping in my bedroom or lashing out at my teenagers with impatience, feeling far away from my husband and just generally, not 'myself'; it feels like the long period leading up to menopause was a dangerous minefield.

What helped me through it? lots of different things - Promensil, a little red clover pill I got at the pharmacy, suggested by a woman friend a few years older, prevented hot flashes and melt-downs of heat. I know some women like to call them Power Surges but I could do without those, thank you very much.

There were ups and also Down times - I remember seeing a counselor for about a year, for talk therapy and anger issues. I didn't like the little explosions, the unexpected blowing up at my kids and spouse. Therapy took a few layers of defensive stuff off (and helped the shoulders), and gave me some practical tips for getting help and not burning out, but after going over the same childhood territory, sad, lonely teen with a chip on her shoulder from being little mother to her siblings, alcoholic mother, workaholic dad, etc etc, it was getting a little repetitive, so next I saw a Reiki therapist who also did reflexology and gave me very sound advice about how being a Mom, flipped upside down, was WoW. Energy work of any kind, cranial sacral, reiki, osteopathy, are all very healing.

I must have seen four different homeopaths and naturopaths, looking for the perfect mind-body health solution. It wasn't only menopause, but those aches and pains at mid-life - who ever heard of bursitis before age 45? or basal cell carcinoma? I also had a frozen shoulder from too much working on a laptop computer. Still bothers me, but an osteopath (saw several actually, before I found "the one") helped me unfreeze it, as the whole collar bone and neck was affected. There were nights when only a heating pad could help the pain.

Hmm, diet wise, a naturopath helped me discover low iodine was a problem for my thyroid, and the tendency to wallow in depression lifted. Losing the gluten was a miracle, discovered after a month-long diet where you remove things, one at a time, first no red meat, then no chicken, then no eggs or cheese, til finally I was eating rice and veggies only, with some rice protein powder smoothies. All those joint aches and pains, weeping sessions, weight gain and mood swings were not from menopause and aging, but from a gluten intolerance.

Low libido and sex life - this minefield is more slippery - pardon the pun - it goes up and down, and although I've taken oat tincture and Lorna whatzername's supplements, used the Ganga lubrifier and other JoyToy remedies, this one feels more like a communication issue. Still working on that one. Mostly, it's about speaking up, and allowing myself to enjoy mindless pleasure. Go figure!

Yoga and meditation were my constant companions, and still are. There is just no way to find inner peace and balance without them, for me. That and journal writing have helped me negotiate the mine-fields and not get blown up in the process.

The skies are clearing now, the storm clouds mostly gone, and blessed be, my kids are studying in two different cities, so my alone time and hermit needs are more frequently fulfilled. I am so loving leading Creative Journaling and SoulCollage(R) classes, and discovering the company of other women on the journey. And now it's my husband's turn to navigate the mid-life minefields (he's growing a beard).

take good care now, and if you want to learn more about the peri-menopausal journey and self-care, look for The Tao of Turning Fifty, on my website or at

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