Where to start with this post. I suppose I should begin with the requisite "this piece will be all over the map" proviso. I also want to suggest, though it goes without saying, that I'm only positing ideas on the basis of my current perspective and experience at this time. Oh, and I'm sorry if this topic causes anxiety for anyone
in the prime of life who hasn't hit the perimenopause roller coaster as yet. I just need to vent.
And with that, holy cow people, what the fuck is going on with me right now?
I'm not going to complain about the litany of things you've heard about in the past, namely the migraines. I don't want to be too optimistic on that front but my cocktail of supplements and (carefully monitored) phytoestrogens/hormonal precursors has taken the edge off. The headaches come and go, more unknowably than ever and they seem to last longer when they come before they go. Mind you, they're somewhat less extreme and less frequent, so I'm taking that as progress.
No, I'm talking about nausea. Absurdly, that nausea I've referred to in the past is - no joke - a fucking symptom of hormonal change. Think about this: I frequently encounter morning-sickness-esque symptoms (something I am ALL to familiar with having vomited daily for 7 months while actually pregnant) for no good reason - except that my fucking hormones are in chaos. Furthermore, I cannot stand the taste of certain food and drink which I used to enjoy.
Oh, and now's a good time to turn away if you're squeamish, but I'm also talking about managing the effects of a (perimenopausally-induced) endometrial polyp, discovered (after careful testing) on account of semi-regular hemorrhaging I have experienced. On the plus side, my iron and B12 are stellar, which is all but unbelievable under the circumstances. Apparently, I'm a star when it comes to iron and B12. Note: My daily endocrine-support yoga practice and acupuncture have been instrumental in ameliorating this challenging situation. Which is good because that was some scary shit.
But never mind that.
What I really want to talk about is the hit to my ego.
Let me start by saying this: I know I am a youthful individual. My nature is sparky and enthusiastic. I dye my hair. I look much younger than I am - as do all the women on my mother's side of the family. People tell me constantly that I look young. My doctor, last week - when I went for my shots - told me I look 22. (That's just not true, but you get my point.)
I dress stylishly in clothing that fits very well. I have an interesting face with a couple of good features. I'm not obese. I'm not unfit. I eat well (generally). I sleep 8 hours a night. I take vitamins to help me manage life stress - of which there is a reasonable (if "regular") amount. FWIW, prime, daily stressors for me are work, though I enjoy it, and parenting my kid. (Not to dwell, but the parenting is exceedingly stressful and demoralizing much of the time.)
Having said all of this, my body is changing, despite status quo external factors, and I am not pleased.
Look, I know exactly what's happening: my ovaries are conking out and my homeostasis-bound body is doing what it must to keep order. It's producing estrone via abdominal fat. (According to all accounts, it's not even producing a ton of estrone. I mean, I'm keeping it together according to the peeps who work with the women having estrogen-dominance.) The net result of this loop, alas, is a firm abdomen (thanks yoga!) under a layer of bloat and adipose tissue. Worse still, that tissue is NOT toned. It's a (less serious) version of the kind you may have experienced, and begrudged, 2 months after having had a baby. It's, frankly, much less attractive than my midsection of yore. Furthermore, my former midsection was always flat above the navel and in no way crept towards my waist or upper hips.
I realize that this is an entirely first-world problem, but it's fucking with my identity as a sexy hourglass and I do not appreciate it. Seriously, if there are two things I was confident about until quite recently it was that I was a) sexy as hell and b) an hourglass.*
This cannot persist.
Which brings me to the part of the post where I discuss the profiles of the Menopausal Woman, Kristin-style, which is to remind you that it's not worth the ether its written in:
A) First off, there's the slender woman who's always been slender in the midsection and who will continue to be slender until, realistically, death. Let's call her genetically lucky.
B) Then there's the woman - and I hesitate to say this, but I feel she's in the majority - who starts to put on the midsection pounds in her 40s, slowly but surely. First it's the boobs that gain a couple of sizes (in addition to a couple of inches in band size), then it's the abdomen, finally the hips and upper ass. By 50, she's a much squatter version of her former self, whatever that was. Alas, this shape speaks for itself and, sassy personality of its victim notwithstanding, it's not a hot look. I continually debate the preordinance of this scenario and I truly hope that I'm correct in my assertion that, while this may be the only path for some women, it's not the only way for most.
C) Finally, there's the woman who sees the writing on the wall and fights tooth and nail to retain the pre-menopausal shape she's was born with. Cue movie stars and people who live in NYC, Paris or North Toronto. Fighting may take the form of serious diet modification (for life), surgical modification or extreme fitness modification - perhaps even all three! Sure, eventually her face will give her away, but this lady's body's gonna look 35 for a long time.
Here's my dilemma.
I DO NOT LIKE ANY OF THESE OPTIONS.
The lanky-frame, genetic lottery ship sailed approximately 43 years ago. The slow train to boxy-ville is too depressing to consider. And the militaristic approach to, well, anything, is really not my way.
But, it seems, that the woman who eats and drinks a moderate amount (OK, in full disclosure, things are getting less moderate due to the ice age in which I currently find myself), exercises a moderate amount and makes sure she goes for a massage every once in a while, is not pleasing the menopause goddess. I mean Menopause Bitch.
This post is not about presenting solutions. I'm done with solutions for this week. This week, I'm in full wallow mode. (Happily, my current bout of PMS assists me in this respect.) Sure, I've got some tricks up my sleeve, don't I always? But I'm wearing thin, pun intended.
I'll close with a few general questions and I really would love your feedback: Do you think there's a menopause profile that I've neglected? If yes, could you make it one that will appeal to me? If you've gone through this life-stage, would you provide some optimism for those of us on the cusp? If you're on the cusp, would you at least pretend to be having a miserable time, like I am, just in the interests of commiseration? Presuming my perspective is correct, if you had to go through "the change" via Profile B or C, which would you opt for? Think about it carefully: Option B is frumpy - but fun, just like your life has been so far. Option C is attractive but soul-sucking. Let's talk.
*Now's a good time to mention that my husband, while he has no doubt observed these changes - cuz I never fucking shut up about them - would like you to know that he still finds me sexy as hell. And this is not a sponsored post.