Updated: Jul 15, 2020
What We Meno Gals Need the Most.
I Never Thought of Myself as Part of a Group.
As the saying goes, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."
But something about peri-menopause has made me reconsider.
It's not that I have a desire to go out more or anything like that. Actually, quite the contrary. Between hormonally induced fatigue and just a general feeling of "blah," going out is the last thing on my mind. I'm an introvert by nature and honestly, I might be the least social person I know. But all this alone time pondering, well, anything really, got me thinking about women and mid-life changes and how little attention is given to peri and menopausal women. Although the discussions about peri and menopause are louder and more frequent than ever before, there's still so much room out there for more voices to be heard on the subject. The truth is, there's so much to say about this time in our lives but perhaps there is still a reluctance to share it? Or, listen to it?
When you get your period for the first time, there’s conversation and learning, you know, stuff like: "this happens every month, you may feel crappy, you may have cravings, you may feel not yourself, you can GET PREGNANT NOW, let's talk birth control," you get me. When you’re having a baby, there’s more conversation and learning, I'll leave it at What to Expect When You're Expecting because that covers all bases. And, when you’re postpartum there’s conversation and learning: postpartum depression (thank god that's a convo now), breast feeding, weight loss, baby bonding, relationship stresses, time, sleep, and one of my all time favorites, sore boobs. And even though you may feel terribly alone at times during those life-changing seasons, there are resources and directives that, if all else fails, you can still follow. You know, that first night home with baby? “What do I do?!” Well, there’s always a book and the pediatrician's on speed dial.
I think though for many peri-menopausal women, there’s a lot of feeling like, “what the heck just happened and when does it end and why didn’t I know this was coming!?” We still need to flush these experiences out into the open; shine the proverbial light on the unforeseen chaos, if you will. Maybe because it’s literally an “end” to something (your fertile years) it’s kind of fallen flat in our collective conscience; a general, “what’s left to talk about?” attitude but I see more and more women saying, “yeah, this is all nuts but nothing’s OVER.” It’s actually new again. We are new again. It’s a new season, a new phase, flooded with experience and wisdom...how great is that?
Perimeno Women Need to Share
One of the most extraordinary things women do is talk to each other! We lean on, support, revere and learn from each other. I think that as we get older though, we talk less about what's happening because well, who wants to talk about the vaginal dryness and chronic migraines, bad breath and hair loss?! Actually, I'M usually the friend that brings these truths up, but listen, every circle of girlfriends needs a truth teller, am I right?
We need each other to navigate the crappiest aspects of perimenopause. We need each other to learn from, encourage and have the best stress relieving laughs with. We need a community to garner truths from, to seek advice and knowledge and share in conversations that reinforce and buoy these years. We need to be heard and we need to be listening to each other.
Over a year and change ago, I read an article in New York Magazine that was titled "Mid-Life Psychosis." (Dec 24th 2018-Jan 6th 2019, Issue) I remember chucking at first, "mid-life crazies," I thought, "we can all relate to that." But when I read the article, my heart sank. Featured here were women who had suffered a psychological break when they entered their mid-life years. Hormones were literally driving them mad. It was a frightening look at real life trauma brought about, largely by the physiological changes ushered in by.....middle age? What the hell? That was scary. Among other things, the article made me consider how much we women really need friendships with other women. We benefit from there, whether we be loner introverts or social extroverts. We need each other's guidance and assistance not just during those menstruating teen years or child-bearing years, but also during our end of child-bearing years! Of course a mental fracture in one's mid-life cannot solely be determined by fluctuating hormones. To suggest this would be incorrect. But, fluctuating hormones don't help, let me tell you. They can mess you up physically and psychologically and perhaps, to a vulnerable mind, be the straw that breaks the camel's back. We need each other to help navigate these years in the most kind and gentle ways. There's no shame in that.
No One Knows Your Quite Like Your Girls Know You
And no one will invest in you in quite the same way.
Don't go it alone. That's what we're here for! Feeling invisible? Call your girlfriend. She'll let you know what a hottie you are, same as you've always been. Lamenting your drooping boobs and bulging abs? She'll tell you're beautiful and where to buy a better bra. She'll even go shopping with you just to make sure you choose the right fit. The lack of motivation, general fatigue and muscle soreness you're experiencing? She tell you it's all normal, that she feels the same way and remind you've always been a terrible procrastinator anyway. Feeling mentally, emotionally drained, especially vulnerable? Your girlfriends will notice. Whatever it is, when you start to veer off the rails, your girls'll help lift you and set you straight. We care about each other because we see ourselves reflected in our friends. We are each other's best advocates. Throughout every stage of life, we have been there for each other. Why would mid-life be any different? There's an entirely new conversation to be had now. So, pull up a chair, gals, it's time to dish! We have each other and that means we already are a community.