Let's change the way we talk about "The Change."•
Posted on June 30 2021
Let's stop hiding and instead normalize the changes in our bodies as we grow, mature, and well - change. Our mothers and grandmothers whispered about such things, or maybe didn't mention them at all. You know - the "inappropriate stuff" like our periods, perinatal care, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause.
No, my "Aunt Rosie" is not coming to visit!
Growing up in a house with three brothers and no sister, I lived in absolute terror that someone would discover I bled each month. My mom, who also grew up with only brothers, did tell me about my period, but made it clear it was something we just had to deal with, and gave me a few tips on hiding pads in my purse. Ask your circle of friends, and most certainly a majority of them have painfully awkward or even horrifying "first period" experiences.
The times they are a changin..."
Fast forward 30 years or so, and you start to hear the whispers. "I feel like my brain is foggy", "I am sleeping with a fan in all seasons", "I skipped my period last month and now it's back with a vengeance." Then, we start to google symptoms. Maybe, if we are lucky, we have a close friend or coworker we talk to. Depending on our doctor, we get suggestions from ignoring it to prescriptions for anti-depressants, to chasing each symptom individually with ablations, birth control, creams and more prescriptions. We may have heard of menopause or "the change" as a time when our period stops, but what is perimenopause and why didn't my mother tell me about THIS!
This shit stops NOW!
As a Mom of twenty-something daughter, a community herbalist, sister-in-law, auntie, and friend, the hiding stops NOW!
Let's talk about this. None of this is shameful, none of it should be secret, and we need to support each other by sharing experiences and advice.
Menopause (the pause in our menses) is said to actually describe the day our period stops. Think of it as "official" when you have gone 12 months without a period.
Perimenopause is the timeframe as we approach menopause and can span several years. Our estrogen levels don't decrease in a steady incline but instead bounce up and down and all around! The "four core" symptoms include:
1) Hot flashes
2) Sleep disruption
3) Vaginal dryness
However, there are many, many other symptoms including hair loss, bleeding reminiscent of crime scenes, "brain fog", increase in blood pressure, weight gains (and shifts), skipped periods, and more. With so many different body systems involved and the specialization of our medical system, it is difficult to get holistic help.
I'm not a doctor. I can't diagnose or treat. What I can do is offer my own experience. Not knowing what I was experiencing, I was anxious that something was very wrong. I was still getting my period, was in my 40s, so was sure it wasn't menopause. My doctor agreed. No mention of perimenopause. I started having extremely heavy periods. Seriously, I was amazed I didn't bleed to death! I was traveling for work constantly and had several horrifying plane rides. I went to my Gynecologist and she suggested an endometrial ablation. I decided against it thinking it would end sooner rather than later (nope!). My blood pressure shot through the roof. No mention of perimenopause. I was put on medication. My seasonal depression turned into year round severe depression. No discussion about perimenopause. I was put on anti-depressants. I developed severe rosacea. My dermatologist put me on antibiotics. Get the picture? What I can offer is this. If we know what perimenopausal is, or at least talk about it, we can be better prepared to understand what we are experiencing, ask good questions of our providers, seek out alternate therapies and support, and talk to people about it. We may even avoid the anxiety and confusion that comes from not knowing what is going on.
Talk about it. Ask questions, Say it out loud. Stop whispering. Talk to the next generation, find multigenerational spaces to share experiences (check out the relaunch of our monthly New Moon Circle with Evergreen Healing Arts) and maybe, maybe, embrace the changes as a moving into a new phase of life where there are still many opportunities to birth new ideas, businesses, art, social justice, and change. Let's change the way we talk about "the change", rather than going through the change, let's be the change!
In honor of being the change, and to support our peri and menopausal folx, we just launched our newest Moon Tea - Over the Moon!
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