Why wasn’t I warned about perimenopause? Whyyyy!

“Where’s the bloody manual?” could be heard reverberating across the harbour last weekend.

I’m sure half of Sydney heard my rants. I apologise to anyone that may have been in earshot.

My perimenopause syptoms were at their worst: I was sad, confused, angry, hot, bloated, demented… need I go on.

FFS! Why weren’t we issued with a guide book for this confusing time in our lives? There’s one for pregnancy, in fact there are thousands, if not millions. How to grow a baby, how to prepare for a baby, how to get a baby. Get my drift?

What about, how to handle hot flushes, how to get through menopause, how to cope with midlife madness… would have come in handy.

This is serious

There probably are some books out there, but they are more than likely hidden in the back of the bookshop, not widely promoted and certainly not talked about or revered like “How to grow a baby”.

I’m a bit sick of this time in our lives being diminished, discarded, and swept under the carpet. It’s serious, it needs attention, it affects millions of us.

I asked my mum the other day, “How was perimenopause for you?” Her reply: “Oh, I can’t really remember”.

The hell she couldn’t, she just didn’t want to frighten the hell out of me because I can clearly remember her playing whale music in the middle of the night, pacing up and down, and changing her night shirt a few times a night.

She may have even shed a few tears, which Mum does not do often (in my entire life, I think I have seen her cry twice). She’s a strong woman, has come through cancer and is (in my eyes) bloody incredible.

Perimenopause, that horrible stage where things start to change; you get a bit wider, fat distributes differently, periods are irregular, sometimes heavy (hello flooding – not great in the middle of a meeting – I’ve gone off wearing white), hair starts thinning, you constantly feel bloated, you sweat, you get headaches, you feel like you are going nuts (you really do), and your sex drive goes on holiday (a bloody long one), oh, and you may very well grow a moustache.

hormonal advice
I don’t know if I’m Arthur or Martha

This last week has been a nightmare. I’ve felt emotional, I had stomach pains, back pains; I feel hot, I feel like crying every bloody five minutes.

It’s like I am hanging in by a thread. I basically feel miserable. It’ll pass, but just right now I’m wallowing in self-pity, self-doubt and you know what? I’m okay with that.

It’s okay to feel like that. Bloody hell, we’re only human. We’ll have great days and we’ll have shit days, I’m just having a few shits days. That’s what chocolate is for (it’s dark chocolate, it’s okay). Not all days are like this.

We are in it together

While I realise these symptoms don’t happen to everyone (you lucky buggers – I am green with envy), I’ve started to suffer my fair share. The only way I’ve had information, or known if anyone else suffers is because I asked.

I shared what was happening on my Instagram account and the responses were overwhelming.

It was a relief. I wasn’t alone, it was normal, and we are in it together. As selfish as that sounds, it’s comforting knowing I’m not alone.

Oh, and nobody told me it could last up to 10 years. WHAT….. send help, and fast, I may very well need it.

How I feel right now, courtesy of the fabulous Salma.

The mental anguish of feeling isolated, confused and helpless is much worse than the actual symptoms. I feel somehow lighter knowing we have a platform to share these issues.

It’s comforting, it’s helpful and there should be more like it. I’d like a ‘perimenopause night’: Chocolate, wine, chat, laughs, and maybe some samples from large brands (hello Veet, hygiene products, vitamin supplements etc).

Why isn’t perimenopause widely talked about? It’s not embarrassing – okay, the upper lip hair is a tad embarrassing, but that’s what Veet is for.

The bloating and gas, well, yes that can be a tad frustrating, but hell, we just laugh it off. The more we talk, the more we take away the stigma. Let’s keep the conversation going.

Keeping a diary helps.

In the meantime, I am writing my daily, weekly diary and detailing my perimenopause journey (God, I hate that word) and I may very well turn it into a book.

Just don’t expect anything too serious, because trust me, there’ll be a few F-Bombs thrown in, it’ll be raw, sometimes funny and sometimes bloody sad, but it’ll be real, and hopefully one day, it will help someone.

Here’s to talking about perimenopause, it’s not always fun, but we are never alone. Here’s to putting the word out, here’s to supporting one another and here’s to sharing the love. Because as a community, it’s a lot easier to get through this frustrating time.

Not going to lie, wine helps, so does a good laugh.
Here’s a list of what is helping me to cope (most days) so far:

• Talk to people going through it, laugh about it – it’s better than the alternative.
• Exercising (for me its walking, swimming, working out – I am slowly introducing weights). It’s a must for me, it keeps me sane.
• Eating well (I still have treats, but have cut back on sugar, processed foods and I don’t drink much wine or coffee – no coffee at all)
• When I am having an ‘off’ day, I just stop, wallow and let it happen, then I get back on track the next day. I acknowledge it’s okay to feel like shit, go with it.
• I take supplements – fish oil, green powder – all natural, and I have Glow and Collagen by The Beauty Chef (it’s great for my skin and gut health)
• I use Veet on my upper lip (gets rid of the tiny hairs) – I mean who wants a moustache.
• Drink a lot of water during the day
• I give myself a routine, as it makes me feel more in control, even when my body is going crazy
• It sounds weird, but I up my water intake when I am bloated
• Lastly, do whatever makes you happy. If you want chocolate go for it, if you want wine, drink it.

We can’t be too anal about it. Happiness is key and everything in moderation. Now, more than any other time, look after yourself, mentally and physically. We may be going through perimenopause, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t bloody fabulous – because we are.

Righto, I’m off to pick myself up from this slump, tomorrow is a new day.

Feel free to share your tips, experience or advice, or if you just want to vent, go for it. Email me at jo@50sowhat.com.au. I’d love to hear from you.