Who Am I?
It’s funny to describe yourself at this age It is a wonderful task and I recommend it to all of you. Get out a piece of paper (or sit at your computer) and write one l-o-n-g sentence about yourself, as if the reader doesn’t know anything about you. Do it now, I’ll wait… Now, sit back and look at what you’ve written. Are you happy with your description? If yes, FABULOUS! If not, CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
Here’s my sentence: Rompin’, stompin’ woman who has energy to burn (most days), journalist, rock climber, kayaker, emergency medical technician, cookbook editor, and soon-to-be nursing student.
Now here’s the funny part: I was almost NONE of those things before I hit 45, before menopause took hold of my hormones and shook them to the core.
At 50 (or just a few months before), I changed my life. I didn’t let the “change of life” change me, I took control. Ok, I’m a bit of a control freak but more on that later. I was working as an editor and publisher for a HUGE New York magazine company, traveling a lot, nice clothes, house in the suburbs, country club membership, husband, two kids, two dogs and all that. Vacations in Europe. Cruises in the Caribbean. A wonderful life, really. But something was missing. That “something” was a connection to the people important in my life and time to enjoy them. I had no time to sit. Sitting is a wonderful thing, like meditation for me. I have to force myself to do it, but when I do, it is fabulous.
I didn’t make a big change in my life without being pushed. I was squeezed out of a job, which allowed me to take stock, and actually have a conversation with my husband that we’d both been too busy to have: What do we want to do with the rest of our lives?
We moved to a quaint New England town of 3,000 people, and started a new life. We make a lot less money and the kids have had to borrow to go to college. So what? So did I. So do most kids. We are in a place were I can look at the mountains (really more like tall hills to anyone who lives near the Rockies) and work as an EMT (making a whopping $8.42 an hour) and enjoy my life and my friends. I miss my friends back in New York, but I DO NOT miss my life back there. Tell you what: I do NOT miss lugging around tampons and those bulky overnight pads, and birth control stuff.
What role did menopause play in all of this? I have no idea. I can just tell you that the night sweats allowed me to be up alone at night and really contemplate my future. And when my forgetful brain wouldn’t allow me to find the words I was reaching for, whether writing or in conversation, it made me slow down and really think about what I was trying to say. Other symptoms didn’t provide much opportunity, I must say, except that like all of us, I had to decide whether to tackle menopause with drugs or fight it on my own. Many of my symptoms were not so severe, so except for a few drugs like Lipitor (which I fought my doctor on taking but now I am convinced of its life-saving effects) and local estrogen therapy, which has helped my sex life somewhat, I went through menopause relatively unscathed.
Which is not to say that you will.
But seeing menopause as a “POSITIVE change of life” can really help you get through it, and your friends can help too, your in-person friends and your on-line friends. This site will be here for you in the middle of the night, when you think you’re going to spontaneously combust. And it will be here for you in the middle of the day, when you are depressed and don’t know why.
Talk to us.
Toni wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Menopause.