Monday, May 25, 2009

Peri-menopausal wisdom and self-care

In peri-menopause our brains are being rewired to live with more inner wisdom, to adapt to a more direct current (intuition); and we may experience insomnia, forgetfulness and depression. It takes a great deal of courage and faith to go through this change, and some women go through painful breakdowns before they are ready to relinquish the struggle for control.”
The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup

Before we hit menopause, there is a long period of transition called peri-menopause. For some women it's like a second adolescence, an emotional and hormonal roller-coaster. For others it's a non-event.

For myself it was the mother of all wake-up calls as Dr. Northrup calls it. The first symptom, that I wouldn't have imagined was connected was a huge increase in the length and severity of my PMS. Some authors have likened this premenstrual period to a lightning rod for unfinished business. It is a warning to be heeded: if self-care is minimal, PMS increases.

Personally, I found it increased to almost two weeks out of the month! The year I noticed it, my father had recently died, I was 49, and my kids were hitting their obnoxious, sullen teen years. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to see a family counselor and get some help managing my emotions, which were very explosive. Teens or not, I did not want my children to suffer the brunt of the unpredictable outbursts. After a few months of weekly talk therapy, I could feel the difference. It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders (I was struggling with bursitis and sore neck at the time) as years of self-protective armour were being peeled off me. And I also noticed my PMS diminishing, except for some irritability on the day of ovulation and mild crankiness a day or two before my period, like before.

“All the emotional and psychological change of the peri-menopausal years are to the entire life cycle as the week before one’s period is to the monthly cycle. All the issues that have been occurring pre-menstrually and which perhaps had been avoided till now- should I quit my job? Should I stay in this relationship – now come up and hit us between the eyes rather relentlessly, demanding that they be dealt with at this time.” (Wisdom of Menopause).

So consider this time of peri-menopause as a Big Bright Flashing Light on the highway saying, Slow Down. Self-Care Needed Ahead. Major construction going on, re-wiring of brain and emotional sensitivity underway. Proceed with Caution.

Do not drive carelessly or quickly through this 'rough patch'. Heed the signals, give yourself the time off, the down time or the journalling time you need to get in touch with your own needs. Women who mother others (whether they are your children, your parents, or co-workers) are especially in need of self-care, because they normally have spent a life-time forgetting about themselves, and putting others' needs first.

Don't hit the brakes too fast - don't skid on the road. Just incorporate some self-care tips from a previous article on Seven Tips- Tools for Gaining Essential Wisdom, and if you care to, browse this blog for the many tips and articles on all aspects of menopause.

Coming shortly, more excerpts from A Woman's Way, A Guidebook for Peri-menopause.



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