It is currently not quite 2:30 in the morning and I've made the usual rounds to websites that I tend to visit in the middle of the night when I'm suffering from a bout of insomnia. I just got a notification on my phone that one of my friends is also currently suffering from a bout of insomnia. It's not just my mind that won't turn off, though. My body is rebelling as well.
Trigger warning: we're gonna talk about all the bodily functions of a woman at the age of 45.
Things they don't tell you in school and that my Mom didn't want to talk to me about: perimenopause. Seriously, I had never heard about such a thing until a few years ago. They talk about "the change" that women of a certain age go through, but they really don't go in-depth with it, and they don't tell you that before you cease to menstruate completely, your body undergoes a period of what I can only describe as pure upheaval.
I find myself looking back to my teenage years and I cannot help but tell people who knew me that my body was just gearing up for the main event. Perimenopause, in my opinion, ain't got nuthin' on my teenage years.
So, what are these symptoms? My emotions turn on a dime, my ADHD is SO MUCH WORSE than it ever has been, the rage.... Oh, the RAGE that can rear its head at any given time for the smallest of annoyances? While the word "fuck" was commonplace in my vocabulary, I will now give the foulest mouth sailor a run for his money.
Y'all, I even made a construction worker cry last year with the amount of F-bombs I dropped. I believe there were 53 in the span of a 10-minute conversation, there were witnesses, and I am not even exaggerating a little bit there.
And then there are times when I want to do nothing but cry because of whatever. It can be a beautiful piece of art, it can be the color of flowers, the clouds in the sky. I could cry because I'm happy. I could cry because I'm mad. I could cry because I am overwhelmingly distraught that I can't do what I really want to do. I have cried because someone was nice to me. I've cried because someone was mean.
There's also screaming or wanting to scream because something pisses me off. There are the overly animated, extremely enthusiastic moments. The range of emotions that I can experience on any given day is ridiculous! For a while there I thought I was some sort of bipolar, but after working with a therapist for almost a year, we are pretty damn sure that yours truly is perimenopausal. Not only that, but you add in the amount of stress that I've dealt with this past year and the fact that I have other symptoms that track? Yeahhhhh....
I made an appointment with a gynecologist to discuss this with them. That didn't go so well. The doctor came in and asked me if my periods were normally on time, I said yeah, she said "Your ovaries are working. You're not perimenopausal." She was in and out in under 10 minutes. She didn't listen to any of my concerns about other symptoms like these wonderful bouts of insomnia, the night sweats that sometimes have me changing my sheets the next day, and the fact that I can be all over the place. I am fairly certain that if I went on HRT ("horrormone" replacement therapy) I would be in better shape.
Do you know what else I have learned while going down this rabbit hole? I have learned that during that time of the month if you have ADHD, it can get worse. Oh, and don't forget about the brain fog that we tend to get. Yeah, that was another thing they didn't tell you about when you were in school - they joke about pregnancy brain when you're pregnant, but soooooo many people don't realize that is actually a real thing! When your hormones (I still like to call them horrormones) get all out of whack, your brain (especially if you have ADHD) gets more out of whack than normal.
NO ONE EVER EXPLAINED THIS TO ME!
No one ever said that these changes start in your 40s (sometimes even in your late 30s!). Do you want to know why so many women get divorced around now? It's because their partners were not warned about the impending shift in a woman's body! So many people just end up tucking and rolling or hiding from their partners until some semblance of normality reappears. But then, there's another thing that they don't tell you: normal can last for only a few days to a week.
Let's use me as an example (because I know my body). I know that around 14 days before I'm scheduled to have my period, I'm going to be cramping and I'm going to be in a pretty foul mood. This only lasts a few days, though. A week before my period, I get super tired and just want to nap. It's like my body is gearing up for what's coming the week of my period. The actual week of my period? Days 1-3 can go one of two ways depending on my mood. Either I will have this burst of energy and general lovey-dovey-ness or I turn into a dragon that you should hide from. Day 3, though, you can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to be in a foul mood and should be left alone so suffer in silence. Seriously, I say these things for your own good. I have been known to be incredibly nasty on day 3. Not only nasty, but kinda scary. The whole week I'm surfing the crimson wave I will be a sweaty mess at night. I will toss, turn, and not be able to get comfortable to save my life. I will stay away, attempting to read or write, hoping that whatever is in my brain gets out so I can close my eyes and just... chill.
Like now, for example. I'm ridiculously tired, have an early day tomorrow, and want nothing more than to go to sleep. But my bed is too hot (I have three fans going in our room, thermostat down to 72, and two of those fans are directly pointed at my head) and my legs (even having not shaved in a little more than a month) feel like slip 'n' slides they're so sweaty.
Lately, we have added the whole "breaking out" thing to the repertoire too. Right now, there is a pimple that I can feel deep in my sinus cavities that is growing next to one of my eyebrows. This sucker is deep and I want it to go away and no amount of zit cream is going to make this thing go away any faster.
Women, if you're about that age, start doing your research. I'm looking for a new doctor and I'm having my hormone levels tested. I'm fairly sure they're out of whack and if I can get them back on track I will be in a better place mentally and physically. The problem is, I've got to get a doctor to actually listen. Would someone please tell me why the hell doctors don't like to listen to women? I mean, we kinda know our bodies and how they respond to different things better than they do, right?
Ugh. Did I mention that I really just want to go to sleep? Yeah.... this sucks.