Recently I spoke on 50 Ways to Love Turning Fifty at a local library. Near the end, when I opened up the discussion among the women present, it became clear that the real subject was the fear of going crazy with pre-menopausal changes. Every woman is different, of course, but many complain of unaccounted for mood swings, a strong need to be alone, a serious lack of sleep, a libido so low it's scraping the floor. There are a host of other emotional symptoms that come along with the hormonal changes.
Often, doctors don't seem to be aware that women need a heads up – women don't only want to know if their estrogen or progesterone is high or low. They want to know that they are not going crazy. They want to know that some of this is normal, and may hit them in their 40's before they're even thinking about menopause. (Average age is 51, but peri-menopause can start 7-10 years before that).
If you have any overwhelming emotions or issues, it's definitely worth talking to a health professional, whether it's naturopath, homeopath or an open-minded doctor, to find out how to mitigate the symptoms. Sometimes the emotional rollercoaster is worse than any physical hot flashes etc. Sometimes, seeing a therapist may be called for, to help clear away any emotional ‘stuff’ you've been sweeping under the carpet for too long.
Bottom line is this: take care of your self. Lighten your load, let your family know when you need help, rest when you can, make yourself less busy. It’s time to accept that there are major changes afoot, and you need to assimilate all this 'stuff' coming up. Get away when you can, and most importantly, talk to girlfriends who are open to talking about menopause.
There is a chapter in my book The Tao of Turning Fifty about the descent of Inanna, a wonderful ancient story about a woman being totally stripped of all her powers in the underworld, then returning with new life. It reminded me of my own menopausal journey, which in some ways was a journey into the dark caverns of frozen emotions. There definitely is a return to the surface, as you let go of the old stories and return with new understanding, new clarity and refreshed vigour. Don't lose hope!
I hope this book will be a lantern in the darkness or a guidepost to women who are experiencing turmoil and are not sure which way is up. I can see now that some of the physical issues I was facing in my forties and fifties, the bursitis, frozen shoulder and a broken leg - were physical manifestations of my inner journey. Ways that I was 'allowed' to slow down, and receive extra love and tender care. Ailments that forced me to treat myself with kindness and compassion, instead of pushing on past my limits
So this is a reminder to you, if you are travelling through mid-life and experiencing any turmoil, that you are not alone. Other women have been there, are voyaging along with you. Please take good care of yourself. Don't put self-care off -- don't put yourself last on the list. Your family, husband and children deserve the best of you.
You are worthy and deserving of taking a creative break, of rest and good nutrition, as well as healthy exercise. Get out our journal, or call up a friend, and talk to someone today about how you feel.