“Menopause should be considered a disability.”
A woman who visited my booth at a vendor show leaned in and whispered this phrase to me. For many women I’ve talked to, menopausal symptoms cause them to feel that way. I’m no doctor, therapist, nor other practitioner. I am an average middle-aged woman who sweats a lot.
Menopause is like two people wearing the same outfit, it looks different on each person. Not every person experiences menopause the same. Do you remember the popular book series, What to Expect When You’re Expecting? The books were designed to prepare the expectant mother for various stages of parenthood. If only I had known what to expect before I jumped into menopause.
As the self-proclaimed face of menopause in women over 50, I will share with you things I have learned along the way. What to expect when you’re expecting…menopause?
Here’s my list…
• Hot flashes
• Night sweats/disruptive sleep
• Hair loss/thinning
• Hair growth (in places you wish it wouldn’t – under your chin, above your lip)
• Emotional/mood swings
If you think you may have experienced a hot flash, but you’re not sure, it feels like a fire rushing through your body. It is by definition an intense feeling of heat that suddenly comes on and warms your entire body. In a flash, it subsides.
Night sweats are hot flashes gone wild and they sometimes disrupt your sleep. I’ve often compared night sweats to a game of the hokey pokey. It begins when you kick a leg out of the blanket, pull it back into the blanket and repeat with the other leg.
As though hot flashes and night sweats were not enough, my hair experienced its’ own set of changes. It was the evening of my 50th birthday that I noticed my hair looked different. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror styling my hair in preparation for an evening out. Bangs that usually dance across my forehead with volume, lay flat, thin and lifeless.
My self-diagnosis was that my thinning was due to wearing a perm for thirty years. I heard friends discuss that all the chemicals we put in our hair are not good for our hair, nor our bodies. My solution was to wear a natural hairstyle, free of chemicals. After all, I was beginning a new chapter of life, why not try something different? Problem solved, for that issue.
The temporary fix for my hair issue did nothing to sooth the emotional side of menopause. I love a good tear jerker movie. However, when tears well up along the banks of your eyes over a TV commercial, you know menopause could be the culprit. Like a surfer riding the waves in an ocean, you learn to ride the waves of menopausal emotions.
“Menopause should be considered a disability.” When the friendly woman whispered that statement to me, she was using humor to cope with a potentially stressful situation. One of my favorite quotes is “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” (Charles R. Swindoll)
Laughter is good medicine. I encourage you to use humor daily and relieve a little stress, one laugh at a time. Writing my book, Menopause Ain’t No Joke, has helped me glide through the bumpy waters of menopause. It is a collection of my personal essays on parenting, fitness, and everyday life while experiencing menopause.
Do you know what to expect while expecting menopause? Know this…you will survive. Talk to friends, most of all talk to your physician. You are beautiful, sweat and all.
Angela Verges, writer, humorist
“A chuckle a day keeps stress at bay”