“Am I Losing It?” And Other Questions We Ask Ourselves In Perimenopause.
“Am I losing it Dr. Sam?”
This is a question asked of me by too many women to count, so I wanted to share some thoughts.
To lose something one must possess said something in the first place.
And honestly, “It” is not amongst my possessions now, nor at any time in my past.
I’m not even sure “It” is worth having anyway.
“It” is the well-coiffed, highly refined Outer Self who (supposedly) has it all together. She’s the Outer Self we show others and break our necks trying to keep “just right”.
“It” is a lie. Or at least an embellishment of what is true underneath one’s facade. She is not our authentic self. Yet we’ve spent a lifetime on her construction, so we’re rather attached to keeping her intact. She’s familiar to us as well as others in our lives. And that brings us comfort.
That is until perimenopause arrives on scene.
What Comfort Zone?
Peri kicks the door down, summons all the flips* we never gave and then displays them flip by flip in alphabetical order for our sorting pleasure and twenty-four seven mental rumination. (Choose your 4-letter F-word.)
Prefer a chronological ordering to your “flips never given”? She’s got you! Simply ask, and she delivers.
Perimenopause is a built-in physiological shift in our sex hormone profile. Consider her a shape-shifter at her core.
Peri introduces herself somewhat gingerly…at first.
She may take shape as what feels like random changes in your period, an occasional word escape (forgetting an uber-common word mid-sentence), or a flash of heat from what feels like out of nowhere… maybe hell, but that’s up for debate. She may choose from a whole host of other seemingly unrelated things as well. Her quiver is full.
Menopause Is Not A Disease
Contrary to popular press and the disease-care model in which we’ve been steeped our entire lives, menopause is not a disease. I repeat, menopause is not a disease. Nor is the transition leading up to it or unfolding afterwards.
From peri- to post- menopause, this transition is a natural experience in a woman’s life. It is a rite of passage. And a very powerful one at that.
The fact these experiences are called “symptoms” has led us on a wild-goose chase looking for “cures” and “treatments” when we would be better served seeking the answers to one simple question, “What am I trying to tell myself?” Whether the question is asked by our body, our mind, or our emotional heart, the person we need to be asking is our Self.
Our Inner Self that is.
Menopause, and all the stages thereof, is not something to be drugged or treated. It is not something to be feared either. And let me save you from yourself, don’t even think of trying to outsmart or outrun her with your busyness whilst sporting your Wonder Woman Bracelets of Submission (doesn’t every Gen-X chick have a pair?).
Peri Waits For No One.
You see, there is no powering through perimenopause. In fact, in my experience, the more I tried to power through, the more peri- pushed back.
She’s persistent. Ubiquitous in fact. And she calls the shots.
You have two choices when Peri joins the Inner Self’s roster.
- Option No. 1: You listen to her. And act accordingly.
- Option No. 2: You experience the reckoning of all reckonings.
The choice is yours. No skin off her nose. Seriously, she’s fine either way. You are on her calendar and she does not entertain schedule change requests.
Perimenopause demands of us an unraveling. You determine whether it’s the reactive variety or the proactive. In short, an unraveling is a self-examination in which we work through our past, get grounded in the present, and design a future we look forward to on every level.
People are primed for an unraveling when they’ve had some experience under their belts. Some experiences they’d consider “good”, other experiences they could have lived without. No matter the side of the ledger they’d place an experience, they understand that their past makes them who they are in the present. That said, they know they do not have to let their past define them.
Perimenopause Is An “Everything” Thing
Perimenopause is not only a “hormone thing”, she is an “everything” thing.
Perimenopause is the nexus of everything we’ve been through, the unspoken regrets we turn a blind eye to, as well as the time when all the emotions we bury deep decide to gang up on us. In turn unleashing themselves in a wrath to which we can either attempt to “power through” or allow ourselves to “lean into”.
Even the most wondrous of Wonder Women among us are no match for perimenopause when we are not prepared, or when, like many of us, we mistakenly think we can outsmart her.
She laughs in our faces, and rightfully so. Who are we to think we can out -maneuver our deepest desires, our deepest secrets and our deepest regrets?
I entered the perimenopausal waters in my mid-40s. I’m not sure when exactly, for peri is more an “ohhh, that’s what was going on” kind of thing than the “I know exactly what’s happening” kind of thing. She’s elusive until you acknowledge her presence. ‘Tis then when the murkiness clears.
Every woman will experience perimenopause. There’s no opting out no matter who you are and how important you may think what you’ve got going on is.
Now, some don’t even notice they’re in perimenopause until they realize they’ve not had a period for a long while, and then do the math.
When we go 365 days without our period, we have experienced our menopause. Menopause is an event. Perimenopause is the timeframe of years (5-10 most commonly referenced) before we reach our Day 365. Everything after that day is considered our post-menopause stage of life.
The average age a woman experiences her menopause is 51. So when you do the math here, you could be blessed with many a decade after that point in time.
Perimenopause is unique to each of us, just as our cycles have been, our life experiences have been. Just as our everything has been. There is no one-size-fits-all experience, nor is there a one-size-fits-all approach to working through it.
Something We Just Don’t Talk About
In keeping with the societal script when it comes to experiencing life in a woman’s body, perimenopause is something we just don’t talk about but so desperately need to be talking about as a collective of women.
If you’ve been in my ecosystem for longer than a day or two you know that I am changing that dire situation, with fervor no less. We need to be talking about perimenopause, and transparently at that.
Women are suffering. In silence. In shame. And neither is warranted when we shift the narrative from menopause being something that happens TO us, to something unfolding FOR us.
It’s a radical and oh-so-fulfilling shift. But society’s narrative will try to pull you back to the “happening TO you” side at every turn, so you need to be fully-prepared and bring backup.
Perimenopause is a powerful time to ask yourself the deeper questions of life. And “Am I Losing It?” is not one of them.