The Perimenopausal – A Mindfull Approach
It all started a few months ago, when literally overnight, I gained a few kilos, started retaining lots of water, bloating and my joints stiffened. It was the strangest thing I ever experienced…
I wasn’t recognising my body, couldn’t relate to it like I used to, everything that I knew has turned into an unknown. I felt lost.
I was aware of the fact that I had a low functioning thyroid and I was taking supplements for that. But they weren’t working anymore, my symptoms were flaring up regardless of what I did.
The Perimenopausal: Symptoms
The worst part of them all was the bad quality sleep I was getting. It made me feel extremely fatigued, which, in turn, affected my ability to focus and started to impact my work. It wasn’t a matter of quantity, but rather of quality.
My regular schedule was 5am wake up, followed by work till about 5pm when I’d go to a class of either Bikram Yoga or Barrecore. Then dinner and sleep around 11pm. Both my body and my brain stopped supporting that routine and I felt frustrated and anxious. What was happening to me?
Had blood tests done and everything seemed normal. I adjusted my diet, although I was already quite a healthy eater and not in the habit of having much alcohol other than maybe a glass or so of red wine with dinner. I adjusted my supplements intake as well, but nothing, absolutely nothing worked. That was bizarre…
It was almost a year later that I had new blood tests done at the right time of the month, and it came out that I was perimenopausal.
I was in shock … but I’m only 45 years old … how is this possible? I’m not old enough for this.
The news hit me hard, I went into emotional turmoil for a couple of days. Then I came to my senses and accepted that it is part of the natural process of growing older and that I should be thankful that it isn’t an actual illness that could’ve been much worse.
Being Aware Is Being In Control
Why I’m telling this story? First of all because I think there’s not enough talk about it. Just like talking periods is still shameful and people, both men and women, blush, turn their glaze away and quickly change the subject, so is talking menopause. Wake up people, it’s fine, it’s not a big deal, it’s something that more than half of the world population is or will be experiencing through life.
I believe it’s a topic that needs discussing because it affects women physically, mentally and emotionally, quite harshly. It’s not business as usual and it we shouldn’t pretend it is. It’s a period of transitioning to a new usual and that takes time and needs consideration. That doesn’t mean that during this transition women are less able! Gosh, no!
It just means it’s a transition period, one that needs more awareness, support and understanding. Pretty much like when you get a new job, takes a while to integrate yourself, to get to know your new colleagues and to understand how best to interact with them and the new environment. Nobody thinks you’re less able just because you’re unfamiliar and adapting to your new reality.
How To Deal With The Perimenopausal
However, just because it’s a natural process, doesn’t mean that you should just wait for it to happen. You can play an active role in making this process smoother and easier to navigate. Here’s how I’m personally being affected and how I’m coping and adjusting:
Fact: What affected me mostly emotionally was the fact that unconsciously I was associating menopause with old age. The bluntness of facing the fact that I am that old to be menopausal was something I was completely unprepared for.
Reaction: It couldn’t be! I felt shame for having those thoughts as I see myself as a non-judgemental and openminded woman, but here I was judging a situation based on age. I felt frustrated that is happening to me and allowing myself to slip into the victim mode. I felt guilt that I didn’t do more research to prevent it.
Solution: My coping mechanism is awareness – I started reading more about it, talking more about it and found out that I wasn’t an exception. More often than not, women my generation enter menopause around mid 40s and that’s ok.
Fact: The hormonal changes affected my body in ways that I couldn’t recognise it anymore. The shape, the mobility, the stamina, the quality of my skin, it all went bonkers.
Reaction: I felt shame for being vain and so affected that I gained weight that I can’t lose even though I eat healthily and exercise constantly. I felt frustrated that my body wasn’t helping me the way it used to, which impacted my daily routines. I felt guilt that I couldn’t relate to my body anymore and that I felt ashamed of it.
Solution: My coping mechanism is compassion – I’m learning to be kinder with myself and take it easier, add more walking to my routine and focus on less physically straining activities and that’s ok.
Fact: Apart from dealing with all of the above, I’m also feeling tired and fuzzy and can’t tick my do to lists as I used to. I felt shame seeing things left on my list but having to stop.
Reaction: I felt frustrated for letting myself down for feeling fatigued after meetings and needing a bit of time to recharge before attempting the next thing. I felt guilt when I couldn’t wake up at 5am or had to skip a class at the end of the day as I was feeling exhausted.
Solution: My coping mechanism is thoughtfulness – I now prioritise more carefully to make sure I fulfil what’s mandatory first and foremost and allow time to refresh and recharge when I feel fatigue crippling in. Just by moving around and/or having some fresh air and a boosting tea, usually does the trick. Also, by releasing myself from the mental pressure of having to do it all asap I can actually achieve a lot more.
Ladies, be kind to yourselves when entering this new stage of your lives. It’s not an end, it’s a beginning. Celebrate it!
- Learn to fall back in love with your body and appreciate it for the hard work is doing to adjust.
- Work with it, not against it and the journey is going to be a lot more pleasant.
- Stay present in the transition and don’t allow your ego to put you down or push you into making the wrong decisions.
Now is a time of patience and reflection. Treat yourself with love and care. In a few months everything will be easier and, when adjusted to the new you, you will again feel empowered and excited about what each day has to offer.
To all of the Wonder Women, SparkYourBloom Today and Everyday!