Sunday, March 24, 2019

Menopause Is Not a Dirty Word, Neither is Period

I've asked the question before...Why is it so hard for everyone, especially men, to talk about periods? If it weren't for periods, humans wouldn't exist. It's an important part of the life cycle, yet most people are embarrassed to talk about it. That's why it was so awesome that a documentary, Period. End of Sentence won an Oscar at this last Academy Awards. It's about Indian women in a village coming together to find more affordable menstrual products.

The same way that nobody likes to talk about periods nobody likes to talk about when women stop having them. As if menopause and period are dirty words, which they aren't. It's society who has made both such a taboo subject, along with aging and so many other things that affect women.

Me after the Chicago show in NYC, March 2019, age 49
Like pretty much everybody else I only post flattering pictures of myself on social media. I usually delete the ones where I look older because of how tired I am, the angle or bad lighting. (laughing) All reasons that don't admit that I am actually getting older. Here is one that I didn't post when Miranda and I went to NY in early March. In a nutshell this picture looks very different from the one I used when I talked about aging last time in a 2017 blog post or even the one that I posted recently at the Rodeo. This is me in perimenopause.

The blog post in 2017 was also the last time I mentioned perimenopause. Since that blog was written a year and a half ago I have officially become a member of the club, vetted by my primary care physician and all. When I wrote the blog in 2017 I was having weird long periods and then skipping. Then in August of 2018 I had my last period. I had blood work done and my doctor confirmed that I was in fact in the throes of perimenopause. The interesting thing about menopause and the medical community is that they require a full 12 months without a period to consider you in actual menopause. Therefore I am still in perimenopause and every month I pray that I stay there until August of 2019. I'm halfway there!

I had one friend who went 10 months without a period and then had a huge one so her doctor said that she had to start the countdown all over again. Two months later she had another period and she's been so sad. I would feel the same way.

The thing is this. Once we are done with having children we don't need a period anymore. We're good and we wish our bodies knew this too. I am so thrilled at the prospect of never having a period again. However I also consider myself really lucky because I'm having a much easier time than some.

I remember hearing my mother talking about "the change," "el cambio de la vida," in hushed tones with my aunt Lola. She was around my age. Then later as I got older she told me she had never had hot flashes or any of the symptoms she heard and read about.

It turns out I'm more like my mom than I thought. The change has been very subtle in some areas and not in others. I haven't had the horrible hot flashes like my sister, but I have had anxiety, forgetfulness and waking up in the middle of the night. I toss and turn and can't go back to sleep for at least an hour. Since my mother already had a bad temper I wonder if she realized that menopause could be making her more anxious. I remember being 10 years old and not wanting to tell her things or approaching her very cautiously because I didn't want her getting mad at me.

I do a serenity prayer in the morning when I'm pulling out of the driveway and I'm feeling anxious and overwhelmed. The other day when I did one my son asked how I could be feeling anxiety so early in the morning. That's when it hits me the hardest, in the mad rush of getting out of the house.

Unfortunately a lot of women suffer from everything, the hot flashes, the mood swings, the anxiety, the forgetfulness, the vaginal dryness and they don't know why. Because nobody really prepared them for all of this. Generation X has it worse because so many of us work and we carry so much more than previous generations. Some have kids while helping care for elderly parents, like I was a year and a half ago.

I read an article recently by Aileen Weintraub on Huffington Post about what nobody tells you about what happens to your body. I feel that the reason people don't talk about it more is because of this stigma that we've put on talking about periods and our bodies. There's an excellent piece called The New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun on that also discusses perimenopause about halfway through it.

These are great pieces, and a start, but we have to do better. We have to stop hiding behind old-fashioned curtains and we have to get over the discomfort we feel when talking about our bodies. I tell my own kids, "Do not be embarrassed about talking about the human body. Humans exist because of periods." Yes, they've told me to stop and asked me why I'm so weird when I say things like this but I'm not going to stop and neither should any of us. We need to keep the discourse going, writing articles and making movies, until it's not something to be ashamed of, but something we can talk about to our sons and daughters so that they in turn can talk to future generations.

1 comment:

Mizzee said...

Thank you for this post! The fifth paragraph tho'!!��
Just want it to be over with...after a number of months, sadly the recount had to commence. Best to all in the struggle...