Then you reach your 40’s or 50’s and experience another rite of passage; menopause, a.k.a. “the change”, although I’m not sure what I’m supposed to change into; if it’s a bitch then I’ve been successful! I’ve read that there are actually 34 symptoms of menopause. 34! Heart palpitations, hot flashes, mood swings, sudden tears, irritability, depression, anxiety, loss of libido, trouble sleeping and fatigue for example. I probably shouldn’t have read the list as I tend to be suggestible and now I can expect to experience every one! This is going to be a bumpy ride. It’s like having PMS 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Thank God I live alone.
If getting my period marked the onset of womanhood, what did menopause mean? Was I no longer a woman? Was I going to morph into a man? Well, in some ways I have. One of the less debilitating but nonetheless disturbing occurrences is increase in facial hair. I spend more time than I care to peering into my 5x magnifying mirror tweezing mustache and chin hairs that seem to grow overnight. But in other areas, my hair is thinning, (If you know what I mean.)
I’ve read that a woman may have a similar menopausal experience as her mother. Oh no, I’m in trouble. If this is true in my case, I can look forward to spending a lot of time in bed in a darkened room wearing a sleep mask and an ice bag with an ample supply of tranquilizers. When my mom was experiencing her own rite of passage, I was around 15 so my own hormones were just coming to life. For the next few years it was the battle of the hormonally challenged. It wasn’t pretty. My poor Dad; living with two crazy women. He spent a lot of time in the garage.
I guess one of the first indicators that I was entering this new phase of life were the hot flashes. They feel like you’re burning up from the inside. I especially feel it in my face and neck which becomes very red and I sweat profusely. And I never know when they will happen. I’ve incorporated a lot of gym wearing apparel and I frequently wear running shoes to give the appearance I just did an hour of aerobics.There’s also the snacking which results in the insidious weight gain and bloating. I crave the very things that exacerbate menopausal symptoms; carbs and sugar. (I’m eating a chocolate chip muffin right now.) I don’t sleepwalk but I do sleep eat. I’ll wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and with eyes half-closed make a bee line for the potato chips. And don’t get me started about the bladder control issue. (Damn, I knew I should have been doing those Kegel exercises!) Anything can cause leakage; sneezing, coughing, laughing, breathing. Great! I thought that one of the benefits of menopause was not having to wear pads ever again!