Menopause For The Clueless Like Me

Had to chime in on this one, gals.  If you look at the symptoms of menopause and bipolar disorder side by side, they are almost identical.  I was having memory loss, and tremendous mood swings two years ago.  First, I started seeing a therapist, thinking I was losing it.  After a few months, he confirmed that I was not in fact, mentally ill, but suggested I strive to slow down with the flood of topics I talked about in conversation because he felt I was a genius and that it might help people to catch up.  Thanks for the compliment, but now what?  He hadn’t helped me figure out the scourge of symptoms With which I’d had been afflicted.  (My conversations improved dramatically, however).

Upon seeing my gynecologist, I was relieved in a way to find out that I was in menopause, and received some excellent information about how to cope.  My gyno is a much older guy, and uses his well hidden intuition along with a stunning history of good medicine.  I love him because he isn’t afraid to tell me to use black cohosh for hot flashes, and he was the first doctor who didn’t have to look up a rare autoimmune issue I have when I became a new patient.  This is a rare find these days, so I’m keeping him.

Perimenopause leading into menopause is a process that can take ten years to traverse and possibly more.  I know, I was stunned when I first learned this tidbit.  It’s unreal, yes?  There are so many symptoms, and challenges that women have that they don’t realize are menopause related.  Facilitating a red tent for the last five years, I’ve learned a lot about this and encounter many women who are experiencing these things, some more than others, and some great insights into the various ways that women cope.

One of the things that’s helped me come to terms with menopause is slowing down a bit.  I haven’t been overloading my schedule as much and I’ve learned to take time out for myself.  Sleep is crucial, and yet I find myself up at 3 a.m., wide awake.  It can be maddening.  I’ve begun to make the best of it and embrace that time as my quiet time to catch up on a book, some writing, or take time to meditate.  It’s the perfect hushed atmosphere in which to contemplate and make peace with my past, and consider what’s next.

Some women recommend a year of going inward.  In our hectic lives with kids and careers, we don’t always have that prerogative, but in place of that we can take small self care breaks.  I wrote a whole article about this on my blog, inspired by something written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes about women and our bone deep need for recharging our souls.  Taking a year of solitude was an ancient practice.  I sure wish I had the luxury of going to a cabin by myself, turning inward and making peace with my life now that I’m 52 and the shift towards elder is taking place inside of me.  Meanwhile, since it’s not an option, I am finding bits of time to be alone, and as a homeschooling mom, this is quite a feat.

 What can we do to navigate this completely messy, unpredictable, confusingly unforewarned time of our lives?  Walking is good for us, taking high quality supplements, herbal and homeopathic remedies, rescue remedy for stressful situations, whatever stress relieving practices work for you…cutting out too much caffeine, times of solitude, and especially keeping a small notepad for notes.  A very dear friend almost a year ahead of me advised me to write everything down.  Everything.  Words disappear even as they are making their way to my tongue.  They mysteriously interchange, and sometimes I sound like I’m on a psychedelic drug trip as my memory, my intuition, and my inner work collide outwardly in a sentence that no one understands but me.  In fact, we are on a trip of huge proportions…a journey into holding our power as wiser elders, a pregnancy of a lifetime of wisdom giving birth to itself.  Menopause is the time to begin to learn to honor this body journey for real or else.

In Crones Don’t Whine, Jean Shinoda Bolen writes “Crones trust what they know in their bones.” They don’t bend the truth to please others, and they are far less influenced by the opinions of others than they were when young.”  This is common knowledge to many women my age.  With the onset of hormonal flux and deep transformation, we have little patience left for giving away the precious moments of our time left on earth.  Mortality kicks us in the teeth in the wee hours as some of us experience waking from sleep in full blown, bodily panic attacks.  We are slowly  shifting towards resting on the bleachers to watch with a wry smile as the younger crowd goes about their dramatic learnings.  We have some darn good wisdom when they come sauntering over, sweaty and exhausted, inquisitive, sometimes wounded and finally willing to listen.  The demands of those intent on swaying us into the next new thing, or giving us ultimatums on what they deem time-sensitive decisions is easily brushed off like a gnat as we solidly plant ourselves in our own good timing.

The conversations that show up in our faces when we’d rather be enjoying the scenery are more easily met with a simple, direct, honest request for some quiet.  We inadvertently offend those who don’t honor our truth, and in doing so we don’t waste time feeling guilty.  We’re glad to have weeded out who can stand in the face of our power and love us there.  After all, the ones left standing are the ones who will actually show up to lend a hand when we’re too decrepit to carry our own groceries someday soon enough.

Goddess Oceana

Women Who Run With The Wolves

Wisdom of Menopause

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19 Responses to “Menopause For The Clueless Like Me”

  1. Eydie Stumpf Says:

    Hi Oceana, I’m in the Ultimate Blog Challenge with you. Saw your post, and felt compelled to read it.

    I think I’m one of the lucky ladies in life who never had one sign of perimenopause or menopause. Like my mother, I never experienced one hot flash or mood swing. No meds to help me get through it – nothing. I was ancient when it happened – LOL – but lucky, very, very lucky!


    • Oceana Says:

      Hi Eydie! So glad to meet another U.B.C. blogger! You are indeed fortunate to have slipped on through unscathed. Lol!
      Thanks much for responding…


  2. Angie Hottentots-Laurel Says:

    I have to wonder if I’m perimenopausal. I’ve been hearing/reading a lot about it lately and it seems that I have all the symptoms…even though, at 35, I feel I’m too young to have it.

    I like how you have put a sort of positive spin on it. It seems that you really know how to cope!


    • Oceana Says:

      It’s so interesting that we’re in the dark about perimenopause, isn’t it? I find many women I’ve met, it just creeps up on them and they have no idea that symptoms can start years before middle age. (I know cuz I was one of them!)
      I think this is one reason for sure why I’m so passionate about the Red Tent Movement, because it connects women so much and we learn from each other all of this important stuff about being a women that has been sort of hidden from our culture out of shame. I’m glad you stumbled on this post, and hope the resources are helpful.
      Thanks for reading, Angie!


  3. Loralee Hutton Says:

    I didn’t know this tidbit about women going off to find themselves for an entire year. And I’m thrilled to see it. In many ways it’s what I’ve been doing, but not as eloquently. And I haven’t been ‘slowing down’.
    Done with intention, I can see how it would make a world of difference. Great advice.


    • Oceana Says:

      Yes, I heard it’s a native tradition, but would have to look up more about the specifics. I intentionally framed this past year as my croning year, but was homeschooling the whole time. What it amounted to was less social stuff, more meditation, more days where I spent as much time as I wanted to reading, not taking new clients, etc. It’s been really good, but I’m ready to roll again now.
      Thanks for reading, Loralee!


  4. Madonna Says:

    I knew we connected for a reason. That is sheer beauty. A response hardly does it justice. I will comment again later when I’ve had time to take it in.


  5. Debi Walter - The Romantic Vineyard Says:

    This is a well-written, excellent post on an issue all women need to hear. I have been on this journey as well, and support from my husband has made all the difference. I have learned how deep his love for me truly goes–even when I don’t love myself. What a gift he is to me.


    • Oceana Says:

      Such a great point, Debi. It also reflects in how much you love and care for youself, I think, when you have a partner who treats you with so much love.
      It’s true, and I think a whole blog could be devoted to how to express our needs as women, so that we’re supported in ways that ripple out and bless everyone…


  6. knittinggalore Says:

    Great post! Thanks. Some years ago I thought I was going through the menopause but it was an underactive thyroid some of the symptoms are very similar. But now some years later I am going through the menopause. On the whole I suppose it’s not been too bad, the memory is the worst of it and I find I need to write things down more than I ever did. You’ve given me plenty to think about. Thanks again.


  7. Oceana Says:

    So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks! That’s a really good point about thyroid, too…good to have these things checked really. Somehow I think all of it is tied together, and if our physician’s were less specialized, and treated the whole person, we’d be better off, don’t you think?


  8. Lisa | Practically Intuitive Says:


    Found you through the UBC and can relate to your post in many ways. My body decided to go into perimenopause at 42 and did so without a hitch. It was lovely and I sure didn’t miss all the BS that comes with it.

    Now at (almost) 52, my body has decided that it’s time to catch up on what I missed out the past ten years and weird stuff is just showing up out of the blue like weird tingles under my skin that feels like bugs under there (that’s fun!) and insomnia and belly flab! YEY!

    Once my memory goes, I’ll be SOL because that’s been my saving grace all these years.

    Loved your post! I’ll be back.


  9. Oceana Says:

    Lol! Lisa, you have me laughing!
    It’s certainly a unique journey for each woman. I suspect that the two most certain common denominators are the cessation of bleeding and the memory loss. Anyone who tells me they don’t have the memory loss, I chalk up to them not remembering what they don’t remember…i.e. a worse case. 🙂


  10. Lisa Marie Selow Says:

    I once heard Christiane Northrup say in a lecture that there’s no such thing as perimenopause really–you’re either in menopause or you’re not. That was a revelation for me personally. I tend to see it as a time of power, coming into a new phase of life. It’s also the time to release any unresolved issues from childhood, teens, and adulthood…lucky us, huh? Heehee! 🙂 xo


  11. Oceana Says:

    That’s interesting…so some of us just have one long assed haul of menopause I guess! Lol!
    Definitely a time of power, I so agree.


  12. Deborah Miles Says:

    Oceana, I don’t know what to say. I am 60 yrs. old and I started taking Bio-Identical hormones at 53 or 54 while I was still having my period. I never had night sweats, but I had the mean talking to my family and most important, I started talking stupid. Anything and everything just popped into my head and nothing made sense. I called it talking stupid. When I took the hormones(bio-identical now, not synthetic) it all stopped. I stopped taking them for a couple of yrs. and started taking them again and did something stupid. Last year I stopped again because I said I feel great, why do I need these, well they are why I felt so good. I learned hormones are not just night sweats, dry vaginas, mood swings, hormones regulate everything in our bodies. People are living longer now do to meds they are taking for certain illnesses, heart, diabetics and so on. But, as they live longer other things along with eating what is supposed to be called food, there bodies are falling apart. They are kept alive until 90 or so, but live in a nursing home, because they don’t seem to die, but nothing else in their bodies is working to have a dignified life. My psoriasis was better, my candida went nuts after I stopped taking the Bio’s. I have an appointment next month for my physical, blood work, and I go as natural as I can. I have to make myself take an Advil, bad on the liver. My husband and I went back to the gym and we are work out buddies and if I am going to survive this world we live in as a crone, I am going to be sure that along with all the natural, organic makeup I use, that the rest of me can continue to carry on a conversation with someone and I am not at 65 or 70 peeing in the floor. I watched my mother die of cancer at 66, my brother with cancer at 65, my father with emphysema at 56 and I refuse to sit and rot, yes my sweet brother just about rotted at 65 yrs. old. I will not allow that to happen. When my time is up on this earth, I will go, but I want a little dignity, if I may. Sorry for the soap box, but you know I always rattle. But, to each his own. Love you!


    • Oceana Says:

      Love your sharing, Deborah! Every one of us finds her own way, and it seems we are uniquely traversing this menopausal journey as well as the whole path of aging. You’re inspiring, working out with hubby and eating naturally. May you live long and prosper, my friend, with good bladder control and excellent memory! Blessings xo


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