Up to a few years ago, I had no idea there was such a thing as PeriMenopause or PostMenopause. For me there was just Menopause. Full stop. And when the Menopause I knew would come, my period would stop so I no longer would be able to conceive, hot flashes/flushes would be an unpleasant side effect as much as some sleeping problems and low estrogen issues like aging and bone loss.
That was pretty much it my knowledge of Menopause.
So, when I started experiencing some Menopause symptoms (my period became irregular and suddenly I started having some sleeping issues) around my mid 30s I went to my gynaecologist and asked him whether or not those symptoms were related to the fact that Menopause was coming. Back then I have read that when Menopause was approaching our period would become “funny”. He assured me that was not the case, that periods were not a perfectly timed thing (except that mine used to be) and Menopause was far far away from my reality. No mentions to PeriMenopause whatsoever.
And that is how I went through my whole PeriMenopause phase (from my mid 30s through my early 40s): totally unaware I was on it. I just heard of it when I was entering Menopause and had almost everything undercontrol (or on my way to it).
Anyways, since PeriMenopause is a reality and can present a lot of symptoms that can make your life a little hell-ish and you were only expecting them when Menopause arrives, I believe every women should know about it even before going through it. Otherwise you get lost and people (aka doctors) who are supposed to put you back on the right track, for some reason just don’t help you at all. So, at least being aware of it can help you to get help from a doctor who actually knows about it and can help you through it. So here it is an introduction of what PeriMenopause, Menopause and PostMenopause are, because all of them matters:
PeriMenopause is the transitional phase through Menopause. It’s when you can present lots of symptoms related to Menopause like hot flashes/flushes, sleeping disorders, mood swings, low energy, brain fog, memory loss and others, even not being at Menopause officially. You still menstruate but your period can get funny, irregular, heavy, moody, insane in many other ways. It can last up to 8 to 10 years, more or less. PeriMenopause can hit you (pretty bad) around your 30s or 40s. Yep, that early. Here your estrogen levels start to fluctuate insanely and begin to drop.
Menopause officially happens when your menstruation stops and that lasts for a year for those who are over 50 and two years for those who are under 50 years old. Your estrogen levels drop significantly.
Having said that: because in PeriMenopause your period gets funny (meaning it can be late or early and you can menstruate for weeks or skip your period for months), you can go without your period for as long as almost a year and then, boom, it could come back. So, although you were a few months menstruation free, if it comes back before a year if you are over 50 and before two years if you are under 50 it means that you were not at Menopause but in PeriMenopause, still.
PostMenopause is the after Menopause phase when you have no more periods for more than one year or two, depending whether or not you are over or under 50. Your estrogen levels are pretty low. And this phase will last till you die.
Recently I realized for the first time something wonderful: that I do have my back. If I need me, some support, help I can totally count on myself. I am my own rock. And I realized that because when I most needed support and help (going through my B12 deficiency and Meno(pause) hell) and I couldn’t count on anyone but me, I did have my back. Woo-hoo!
All the way through.
It feels homy, cozy, warm, powerful.
It gives you confidence, encouragement, hope, resilience, strength.
Having said that, there is another less wonderful side to this, I believe, same coin: at times I can also be my worst enemy. That presents itself as that little voice inside that doesn’t think I am capable of or qualified enough or has a particular talent or what it takes to go for whatever I aiming for or dreaming about. That inner leash that keeps me prisoner, that bitch who doesn’t let me go, rock’n roll. That part of myself that clearly doesn’t have my back. Instead, holds it, tight.
It feels scary, moldy, restrain, suffocating.
It makes you not only doubt yourself but totally lose the faith in you.
You feel lost, disconnected, apart, an alien in your life.
It keeps you down, sad, unwillingly to move.
And you get stuck. Even aware of it.
Because unless the enemy within becomes a friend, or at least a frenemy, at times, the effect of this side of the coin will remain the same.
For any introvert person, being social is a draining thing. Full stop. And this is not related to bad energy around or anything like this. So, don’t take it personal if you aren’t an introvert. Obviously that this can make things even drainer for any introvert but still, it really doesn’t matter how pleasant or unpleasant the experience is, how good vibe or bad vibe a person or a group of people is, socializing it’s always draining. Because interacting with people are draining for us.
And honestly, as far as my experience as an introvert goes, being social virtually is pretty much the same as being social in person. It’s still a draining thing.
At a first glance being social virtually could seem like a good opportunity for us introverts to mingle more easily since apparently we are kind of protected, shielded from different sides of a computer’s screen (or phone/tablet). But the truth is we are not. Because the draining problem isn’t related to shyness but the energy we tend to expend when socializing. It’s all about energy. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter where that socializing thing happens, if it’s in a living room or in a chat room. We will feel drained with this experience, regardless.
And because of that we might need to leave a chat or a party a little earlier than most and get some alone, quiet time to recharge right after that. And for as long as our “introvertness” needs to recover.
Unfortunately or fortunately, socializing is a draining thing that we, introverts can’t skip nowadays since socializing virtually or in person is a big part of our social and professional lives. It’s a must if we wanna keep in touch with friends and family and if we wanna grow professionally. It’s simply impossible don’t incorporate that.
It’s our onus to the bonus. And we try to deal the best we can with it.
And if you want to know more about Introverts, here is a link with other interesting issues about it.
Every time I have a lot of things to do, a lot of ideas coming to me, a lot of decisions to make or something I consider great is developing, I feel so overwhelmed that the only thing I can do is to step away from it and let it sink. For a while. So I stop thinking about it, I give it a time, relax or do something else and after this pause I go back to the ideas or things I have to get done, to decide, to organize mentally.
And I do think this is a good approach. It takes a bit of the edge of it. It gives me a refreshed perspective.
Having said that, sometimes it takes me way too long to go back to them. But it does because I am afraid to make a poor decision, to screw up a great idea… It is more fear than overwhelming. Fear of failure. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of not being perfect… the usual.
In those cases, facing it, breathing through it and doing it anyways it is the way to go.