I have shared before in this post that when I start writing, I just let the ideas flow with no regard to spelling and grammar, sentence structure, or even language. That is how the working title for this post became, “How Menopause F@#$ed With My Fashionating Life.” Because that is exactly what it did. I did, however, decide to keep the title G-rated.
But first, I want to share what my lovely friend, Heather of Ladyish Blog has to say about this topic:
Three years ago, my doctor took a blood sample at my annual exam and confirmed what I thought might be happening. “You’re menopausal,” he said and that was that. He offered me some hormone replacement, but I really did not feel like that was necessary at that time. And in fact, I was right. Things stayed pretty okay for about a year.
And then things started to get weird.
I am going to devote the next few days to menopause and what I have found to be helpful and what I have found to be extremely UN-helpful. This is not going to be a week of whining. In fact, I hope you find it a week of encouragement and friendship. The thing about menopause is that it can feel isolating because everyone’s symptoms are different, and the internet has some pretty watered-down, benign information.
Ellen and I met on Instagram after both posting about some of the weirder symptoms of menopause. I had posted that, at one point, I had hair down to my waist. It was thick, shiny, and healthy, and I loved it, but I found that it became dramatically thinner within a noticeably short amount of time. Alarmingly so. I also noticed that my eyebrows had begun to disappear altogether. I was shocked when, after I had posted about this, so many women reached out to express their own crazy symptoms. Ellen reached out to me and we bonded over how our doctors had delivered those blood work results and, with a pat on the head, sent us on our merry way. We decided then that we needed to open up about our experiences and start an honest conversation with you all.
Menopause comes at a tricky time in life: empty nesting, parents aging, midlife and it’s important to know that whatever this looks like for you, it’s fixable and relatable and probably not at all as uncommon as you might think.
I am someone that likes methods, processes, hacks, routines. I am a bit OCD with order and planning. Every week I am juggling a full-time job, two kids at two different schools and stages of life, the blog, events, time with my husband, and all the crap that comes with house and home. I depend upon a few things to get me through my week. Things that bring me moments of joy throughout a busy week, that are part of my self-care routine, something I consider essential to my well-being. Most of that went out the window because of menopause.
I was about 41 0r 42 at the time the insomnia started. The few nights I managed to fall asleep, I would repeatedly wake up in a pool of sweat, my sheets soaked with an Ellen-shaped sweat stain. I started having daytime heat surges, lost a lot of my patience, but gained sudden rage impulses. My stomach bloated to second-trimester size and I began battling pimples on my chin bigger than anything I experienced in my teens, all while dealing with gray hair. That last part has nothing to do with menopause, but I do remember thinking, “Body, for the love of it all, figure out what age bracket you are in and stick with it!” Joy, and in all honesty, my sex drive went out the window too.
My mother is a nurse and like anyone closely related to a medical professional, I think I have some of her specialty knowledge through osmosis. I do know that nurses look for a “change in condition,” with their patients to know when additional medical attention is needed. Although I was not 100% sure if it was menopause, I knew that the person looking me in the mirror each morning was nowhere near in the same condition she was just a few months prior. What I was going through was so much bigger than everything I have ever read on what to expect during menopause that I wasn’t sure what was going on. (You may be wondering why I have yet to mention my period, or lack of it. When I was 39, I had an endometrial ablation for medical reasons and stopped having it.)
Luckily, I love my OB/GYN and felt it was time to take a proactive stance to try and find some answers. And as previously stated, one of the many reasons why I love my OB/GYN is because when the tests came back and showed completely normal hormone levels, the first thing out of her mouth after delivering that news was, “but I believe you and your knowledge of our body, so I still believe you are in menopause.” If she had not said that, I would have officially gone insane, but that moment of validation was such a game-changer for me. We decided to let my hormones do their natural thing, but to tackle my mood swings and lack of sleep specifically. One prescription of an older antidepressant later, life did get a bit better. At least I was sleeping again. I joked with my doctor that I still wake up the next morning completely soaked, but I am sleeping through it so who cares!
Since then I have been struggling to deal with the emotional and mental components of menopause. My doctor, while great, offers the typical doctor bag of tricks. Mentions of hormone therapy while pamphlets are being handed out and referrals to see professionals for help with the rest and this concludes your well visit for the year. Lately, I began to think nobody else’s menopause included such intense emotions and random symptoms. That is until Heather of Ladyish Blog posted on her IG about losing her hair and even eyebrows due to menopause. This is the first and only time I have ever, as the younger generations say these days, slid into someone’s DMs. I figured if she was brave enough to admit that on Instagram, I could safely tell her my clothes no longer fit, my lack of emotional control is taking its toll on my relationships, and if I have to go through another Texas summer while internally combusting, I was going to externally combust as well.
And that is how we came to get together to talk over Instagram about all things menopause. ICYMI, here is the link to the video we did on our experiences. We would love to hear from you on this topic. Please let us know in the comments on our blogs or our Instagrams if you have any experiences you would like to share, questions you have, or future topics you would like to see discussed. We look very forward to diving deeper into this topic with our wonderful community of women.
Images by Breezy Ritter