What to Do When You’re Hit with the Double Whammy – Menopause and Anxiety.

Some women seem to sail untroubled right through perimenopause to menopause.

Other women aren’t so lucky. Dumped overboard, they hold their own in a sea of transition, bobbing up and down while treading water. They are confident there really is an end to their symptoms, a lifeline called the other side.

But for some women, menopause is more like drowning. During the entire time their bodies go through the process, these unfortunate women are literally fighting for survival. With lives in total upheaval, they can’t find their bearings, become depressed and suffer from a host of debilitating side effects. All this while being in an anxious, lethargic and apprehensive fog so dense that they feel utterly hopeless to find their way out.

I know. Boy, do I know! And believe me, I feel for you! I, too, was hit by the double whammy – menopause and anxiety. For me, menopause was more than just the proverbial Change of Life – it was a major life challenge, a challenge that had me literally wondering at times if I would survive.

The first thing that helped me calm my anxiety was openly acknowledging – yes, out loud and to everyone – what I was experiencing. I stopped putting on a strong front all of the time. I let my family and friends know that I was depressed, not sleeping, feeling miserable, that I just wanted to curl up into a small ball and hide under my covers until perimenopause was over.

Talking about what I was experiencing and letting down my superwoman facade helped tremendously to alleviate much of my anxiety. I learned that by hiding my feelings, the actual physical pain and mental anguish I was suffering became much worse.

At first, I felt like I was weak and pathetic for not being able to handle “it” because all women eventually go through menopause! By keeping it balled up inside of me in a knot, I was doing more damage to myself and making the entire experience of menopause a private, shameful experience.

There’s no other time in a female’s life when she feels she must keep what is going on within her body a secret, especially not from her family and closest female friends.

As budding teens, few of us hide the news of our first menses for long – we are proud, excited, and though perhaps nervous, too, we feel a bit womanly for the first time!

As young women, when we begin to experience yearnings and explore the passions of pleasure and intimacy, we glow and revel in the wonder of our physical selves.

As soon-to-be new moms, we undergo miraculous changes as a new life is formed and we’re wonder-struck and bedazzled by our body’s mysteries. Excitement overcomes our fear and apprehension.

Although each of these transitions comes with their fair share of not-so-easy-to-talk-about realities, discomforts and even some incredible pain, we DO talk about them. We especially turn to the other important females in our lives – mothers, sisters, aunts, and girlfriends – to giggle and whisper, to be comforted, to ask questions, to compare notes, to worry and fret. We feel entitled to our girlish chatter and sometimes, especially during pregnancy, talk incessantly about what is happening to our body.  

Not so during perimenopause.

Years ago, I remember when a close friend began to experience perimenopause symptoms years ahead of the rest of us. We – her very best friends – never suspected she was already going through the Change of Life!

We chalked up her weight gain and her irritability to “something” else. Pressures at home, trouble at work, anything but the truth. And she was so baffled and unsettled by her mood swings and thickening middle that she withdrew more and more into herself. It wasn’t until several years passed and more of us joined her that we recognized in ourselves what she’d been through.

The symptoms and changes happen because of fluctuations in the production of two hormones that occur naturally in women: estrogen and progesterone. When you begin to recognize signs you are in perimenopause, speak with a health care professional, then implement a strategy to manage your symptoms and prevent them from becoming unbearable.

Don’t suffer in silence!

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