The things I wish somebody had told me when I was Perimenopausal
Post: What scares you the most when you think of entering menopause?
Peri: The fact that I will be old! I won’t be this vibrant young me!
Post: Believe it or not but that in itself is liberating. There is a loving acceptance of your body and mind for most of us. This is what maturity means. You no longer subscribe to the “ideal woman”; beauty starts shining through in a different way.
Peri: How do you survive all those terrible issues like the hot flashes and mood swings; the weight gain, night sweats and insomnia?
Post: Just like you survived every other challenge in life — you plow through and learn how to take care of yourself and just do the best you can.
This is a phase when you can finally put your needs first.
As for all of those issues you are afraid of, they can be improved by small changes in your lifestyle. The more positive you are about them the less discomfort you will have. If you don’t frame them as terrible they won’t be.
“So, for example, if I tell you menopause is hell, and you believe me, there’s a really good chance that menopause will be hell for you. But if I start replacing words like hot, tired, and bitchy with new words such as smart, wise, confident, and beautiful, then these word choices become my placebo for re-framing perimenopause, menopause, and midlife.
Because whatever you tell yourself, you are right. “ Shirley Weir
Peri: This can’t be that easy!? Can it?
Post: No, it is not a switch you can flip. If you intentionally, consciously and persistently change your inner dialog, it can have a very positive impact on how you feel and how severely you experience your menopausal issues.
Peri: How do I change my inner dialog?
Post: Sit down and breathe for just a few minutes every day. Make it a moment for yourself. Observe your body. Connect to it. Feel your lungs filling with fresh air. Just be for a moment. Try and catch your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? It will take some time to truly be present, but if master it, you will be surprised how harsh and critical you are to yourself.
Peri: So what do I do when I finally catch myself being disapproving of myself?
Post: You try and be your best friend. What would you say to your BF? Surely not that she is stupid, or that she never gets things right, or that she is not good enough or not worthy enough! I am sure you give her support and approval.
Not feeling good enough
Peri: But I feel all those things from time to time! I feel as if I am not good enough.
Post: We all do. It is a very complex issue everyone needs to resolve with and for themselves. Do you know somebody who is perfect? Do you know anybody that has all their lives in perfect order? I don’t? So why expect that from yourself?
If we love our best friends with all of their faults why not ourselves? Try, just try changing the way you talk to yourself. You may just be surprised how good it feels when you are not being disrespectful to the only “YOU” you have.
Menopause is not an illness
Peri: How is this helpful in dealing with all the menopausal symptoms?
Post: First of all, don’t fall into that trap. You are not ill; you do not have symptoms or a “condition” that needs to be treated. Menopause is a normal, if sometimes unpleasant, transition in every woman’s life! Sorry if I am repeating myself but until this way of seeing menopause is changed, I will restate it over and over again.
You are not sick.
When you become kinder to yourself it becomes much easier not to condemn your body for changing. Research has shown that the moment we stop talking down to ourselves and stop thinking how we are perceived during a hot flash or a mood swing, they become less in severe. It is as if when we remove one layer of stress around the discomfort it gets easier to deal with.
The way the human brain works is still an enigmatic phenomenon that no one understands fully, but the brain can be trained to see things differently and thus process reality differently. The perspective from which we see ourselves in menopause is very important.
Peri: How does that matter? What perspective are we talking about?
Post: If you see yourself as a victim of raging hormones this is how you will most likely feel: helpless without control of your body or mind. If you see this as a normal and healthy phase in your life you are much more likely to feel in charge and in control.