Peri-menopause is Not for the Faint of Heart

Looking back, I showed considerable restraint.

“Why don’t you just go to a doctor and get a pill?”

This coming from a man who has never been and is never going to be the poster child for good health.  Besides, what does a man know about it anyway?

Some women flush, some sweat.  Others deal with insomnia while some unfortunate souls juggle all three with swinging moods thrown in for good measure.  For me, peri-menopause – otherwise known as the “Transition” seems to be all about my mood.

Life was so simple just a few short years ago.  How I long for the time when I enjoyed seven simple days of general malaise followed by my flow – and the wonderfully manic high that followed as my hormones swung in the opposite direction.

But my formerly light yet lengthy pre-menstrual tension had, over the past twelve months, boiled itself down like an over-reduced sauce to forty-eight hours of mournful hell.   Seriously. You really did not want to be a bicyclist running a stop sign during those two days if I was on the road.

Yet my body had one more trick up its sleeve.  Just as I was growing accustomed to Mimm’s Evil Twin making an appearance every thirty-days she was traded in for a hormone storm of such ferocity that I could not fathom there would ever be an end.  I fell into Alice’s dark rabbit hole.  I fell and fell for days until a breakdown during my writer’s group (we’re talking mild hysteria, twitches and unstoppable tears) made it clear to me I needed help.  I was losing my peri-menopausal mind, and I wanted to find it again.

This is usually the moment when one of my wonderful, older clients chimes in with, Menopause?  I sailed right through menopause.  Don’t even remember it.” Of course she doesn’t remember.  It was thirty years ago.  While she was peri-menopausal, the rest of the world was watching Dallas and trying to figure out who shot J.R.!

I guess the truth is, some women do ‘sail through’.  But not me.  It’s embarrassing.  I’m a yoga teacher, for Pete’s sake.  Things like a few hormone fluctuations shouldn’t bother me.  I wish. Even though I have a reasonable diet and a daily yoga practice I know that it will take more to manage my symptoms.  But hormone replacement therapy is a last resort.  For now, I have a three-point plan of attack:  acupuncture with Chinese herb chasers, Rolfing and, of course, Yoga.

I have another ten days before my hormones take a swing toward the dark side and so it is too soon to know if my complementary approach is useful.  I can tell you that, for now, the black mood is gone.  This post is proof that I’m writing again – I’m functioning.  But will I crumble again on December 20th?  I’m not planning on it, but the truth is I just don’t know.


And now, the disclaimer.  I’m single and childless and can indulge my whims.  If you’re suffering – see a doctor.



9 thoughts on “Peri-menopause is Not for the Faint of Heart

  1. Pingback: Follow Up: The Menopause Report « Practically Twisted

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  3. KimW

    I also wanted to mention that, in addition to the Northrup book, a friend of mine recommended The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, which was very helpful to me. She talks about the chemical changes that women go through in various stages of life and how that affects their priorities and moods.


  4. KimW

    I’m so glad you are talking about this! I’ve gone through a period of horrible mood swings this past year, as if I was waking up as a different person each day (difficult to accomplish anything that way). I’m in my forties, so I wasn’t thinking menopause, and I didn’t know much about the changes that might happen in the decade or so before. It seems especially cruel that I’m experiencing mood swings as bad as my teens at the same time that I have a daughter who actually is in her teens. As in the earlier comment, I ended up staring a very low dose of antidepressant, which seems to be helping a lot. I resisted it, but I just wasn’t able to pull it together on my own this time. I hope your plan works for you-it sounds like a great way to take care of yourself, regardless. Thanks for sharing your experience.


    • A different person each day? There have been times when I’ve felt like a different person each minute! I exaggerate, of course, but it’s hard to know how to plan plan my week when I don’t know if I’m going to be Perky Yoga Mimm or Evil Twin Mimm. Fortunately, it has been cyclic so I can almost predict the shift. I haven’t been through an entire cycle since last month when my symptoms were noticeably worse, so I don’t know if my approach is working. While my fingers are crossed it will work, I also know a complementary – as opposed to allopathic approach – is more subtle. It may take a few cycles into the ‘dark side’ before I notice a difference.


  5. cat covell

    I keep telling myself it just puberty in reverse. Except when I went through puberty I was a kid so being a scary, unstable, pain in the ass went with the territory. My experience seems to be mirroring my mother’s and she has been a great help to me. I remember when she was my age and she was pretty crazy too. The hot flashes and the other physical stuff haven’t been that bad and I must say I really don’t miss my periods. That being said, the ugly mood swings just got to be more than I could deal with and I so I sought out the help of a really great nurse practitioner, who after lots of questions suggested I might try Effexor (anti-depressant) and it has been very helpful. I also read Christiane Northrop’s book on menopause which was very good. I have gone and continue to go through a sort of mourning. I remember seeing the image of my uterus during a sonogram. It looked like a lonely cold little planet floating quietly through space. I had the sweetest shudder of deep, deep sadness – I can’t explain both emotions inhabiting the same sentence much less the same brain but they did and they do still. Peace to you.


    • Cat, You’ve it right on both counts – about the puberty, and about the mourning of which you wrote so beautifully. I’ve read Christine Northrup – although it was a few years ago. I checked in with my mom, too (I knew there was a reason for tracking her down after twenty- eight years). While her symptoms began at the same age as mine, her experience was more “classic”. As for Effexor? I’m on an “alternative/complementary” track for now but I’m not ruling anything out. Peace to you, too.


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