Friday, April 3, 2015

Is this what it looks like?

Seven and a half years ago we were visiting my younger son and his wife right after their first child was born. Our visit wasn’t planned for being so close to her birth—she was just a few days old when we got there—but that’s how it turned out. I remember my daughter-in-law said that she’d been very well prepared for what she’d feel and experience while pregnant and also while giving birth, but no one had told her how she would feel afterwards. And she did not feel good and would like to have had a heads up about that part of having a baby.

Similarly some women friends of mine and I were discussing why it is that women don’t give each other a glimpse of what lies ahead in terms of aging or menopause. We don’t normalize these things for each other. Sure, we might tell horror stories but we don’t do much in the way of validating or offering comfort. It’s very helpful to me to talk with my women friends about what getting older feels like and what’s worked or not worked for them in managing these kinds of changes.

Today I’m wondering if I’m finally hitting menopause. I have no older female relatives to ask since either they’ve already died or had surgical intervention and never went through it. I’ve read the symptoms and can really only check off one: insomnia. Oh and night sweats, but see here’s the thing. I’ve had those since I got pregnant at age 20 with my first child who is now 34. So that’s not exactly a reliable indicator for me.

But the insomnia has gotten bad, really bad. So if you’re reading this and you’re a woman, tell me about your experience. I really want to know. Help me make sense of being the age I am with no other symptoms except that I cannot sleep. I’m not looking for advice* or horror stories. Just normalize this for me.

*Believe me, I've read up on this and tried pretty much everything: the melatonin, the sleepy time tea and other over the counter remedies and either they give me freaky restless nightmares and no more sleep or they flat don’t do anything at all. I already work out a fair amount, so I’m not sure I can do more there. I get offline an hour before bed etc etc etc.


Diane Russell said...

I think menopause is different for each individual. With you having worked out all these years, it may not be so severe for you.

For me, it was all about the hot flashes and night sweats, but in my day they did hormone theraphy, which worked well. I didn't really feel any different except for those symptoms.

The best thing to do is talk to your doctor. The light at the end of the tunnel is that the monthly flow stops, and that's a wonderful thing!

Paula said...

I agree with Diane - it is very different for everyone. I had incredibly minimal hot flashes and night sweats. However, the sleep issue was horrible. I also began to have anxiety episodes that were totally unexpected and over which I seemed to have little control. After one episode, I decided I needed to visit my MD. After much discussion (and tears on my part) I relented to meds for anxiety and depression. I slept for the first time in years!!! And have had no issues with either - still on the meds, but at a very very low dosage. The only post meno issues now is very low estrogen which makes me feel like I have a UTI all the time - solution has been a low dose estrogen ring which has been wonderful. This is the only hormone therapy I've had - never tried anything else since my anxiety attacks were taken care of by the meds. Talk to your MD - it really helps to find that which will work for you.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Having been an excellent sleeper all my life, I was a bit less of an excellent sleeper during menopause and even now post-menopause. I also did have hot flashes, but they weren't horrendous (I think. I realize I tend to minimize things.) I think it affected me most psychologically -- I think I'm a bit less likely to feel that I need to organize things for people. Maybe it's nuts, but I attribute that to a lower estrogen level.

Jeanne said...

I started feeling hot around 3 am and waking up because of it. Still do that, to some extent.