Meet Julie Gorges, a good friend for a crazy time of life! "I could either burst into tears or kill you in the next 5 minutes..."
I blame my Mom for thinking menopause wouldn’t be all that bad. After giving birth to a late-in-life child at the age of 39, in her early 40s she had some hot flashes, skipped some periods, and several months later it was over.
So when perimenopausal symptoms started in my mid 40s (peri standing for please excuse rage intensity), my husband mysteriously started agreeing to everything I said and greeted me at the door with a glass of wine after work. I thought, okay, I’m starting menopause a bit early. With a lifelong tendency to be overly optimistic, I told myself menopause pry won’t last that long. I’m tough, I can get through this. It’s only temporary, right?
I’ve got some really bad news, ladies. This can take YEARS. You heard me right. Yup, it’s been a sloooow torturous death for my uterus and ovaries. Actual menopause didn’t happen until I was 50 – the average age for women. And now I hear that post-menopausal symptoms can last up to 10 years. And yes, that’s me, the crazy lady heading for the nearest cliff.
As a woman who was lucky enough to have little to no PMS symptoms, what happened to me during perimenopause was shocking. All my life, I could laugh heartedly at all those PMS jokes. You know, PMS stands for pass my shotgun, pardon my sobbing, perpetual munching spree, pissy mood syndrome, people make me sick, or prepare to meet Satan. Or the danger sign: “Due to PMS, I could either burst into tears or kill you in the next five minutes. You’ve been warned.” Unaffected, I gleefully giggled and thought – okay, perhaps just a wee bit smugly – those poor women.
All you women who have suffered through PMS throughout the years will be glad to hear, I’m not laughing anymore. Yup, Karma. You have my sincere sympathy and apologies. You also have the last laugh.
I literally didn’t recognize the woman I became; for instance, sobbing helplessly in the bathroom because my editor innocently asked, “How’s that piece coming along?” Conversation with my husband turned into mostly annoyed sighs or worse yet, low, menacing growls that never failed to bring a look of terror into his eyes. My teen-agers’ precious heads started looking alarmingly like targets for batting practice. The boys were petrified to make eye contact and suddenly became stellar students, spending a lot more time in their rooms doing homework.
Moving from perimenopause to menopause wasn’t much better. Who knew the song, “Feed the Birds, Tuppence a Bag” in Mary Poppins was SO incredibly sad? I couldn’t stop bawling for hours after watching it with my granddaughter. I’m not even mentioning the scorching hot flashes, insane insomnia, annoying forgetfulness, and crazy panic attacks that ensued. Or the two-inch chin hair I found. It’s been an adventure. But more on all that later.
I’ll tell you what, girls. If you’re like me and choose to forgo hormone replacement therapy (HRT), you better be prepared to develop a sense of humor about yourself. Even with HRT, it will help to remember it’s better to laugh than cry. I’m here to help you do that. Welcome to my menopausal musings. In future blogs, I’ll share with you my personal path down menopausal madness along with a few tips I’ve learned along the way to help you get through this interesting, insane time of life. Stay tuned and let’s travel this raging hormonal road together.