I thought that living with bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety would pretty well fill up a person’s plate in life. I thought that battling my illness was all there would be. The ups the downs the sideways and the zig zags. That was enough. I already had chronic pain to deal with but I figured my person was about as messed up as I was going to get. Then I turned 50 and a switch inside me was flicked. Life threw me one hell of a curve ball…menopause!
Now I know this is a woman thing but well…I am a woman. In my generation the “change of life” was not something women talked about. Like it was this big secret. My Mother would have passed out from shock if I had ever brought up menopause in public. Which meant she had never discussed it with me. No one talked about it. I had no idea what to expect. And I sure as heck was not prepared for what was going to happen to me. I thought things were messed up before. This was a whole different breed of messed up!
I do not know if this is just me or if other women experience the same. But in some ways my bipolar disorder may have saved me and my hubby from certain divorce. Because what goes on in the mind has an affect on hormones, it only seems to reason that what goes on in my brain (mainly because of the medications I am on) would affect how my menopause was going to react. If you want a definition for screwed up just ask someone what happens to a woman’s hormones.
When I was pregnant for my youngest there is no other word I can use to describe myself but a bitch. My hubby did more cursing under his breath in those months than he had done in 42 years. I did not think much about it before hand. But he was terrified of menopause knowing how bad I was during my pregnancy. At that point I had not even been diagnosed so I was medication free. Once I realized I was breaking into this crazy part of my life, I had no idea how my mind was going to react.
Much to my surprise…it has gone nothing like what I expected. Coming from someone who has bipolar disorder, it may sound pretty crazy for me to say that I have not gotten the mood roller coaster. I have my standard stuff of depressive episodes and hypomania. Not the mood change depending on how hubby looked at me or if he did something wrong. I am just normal crazy. So I think I got off easy with my brain. But my body sure as heck did not want to miss out on anything!
When the hot flashes began I thought surely I was going to physically melt into a puddle. I can remember the first one I had. It was the middle of winter and we were at Walmart. I was very tiny back then and so my body temperature usually ran cold. I had a tank top under my sweater to help keep me warm. Then I had my huge winter jacket. We were in the shoe department and I panicked because as far as I knew I was having some sort of freeky heart attack. Within seconds the coat was off. Whether I had a tank top on or not …that sweater was coming off! I told hubby we may have to call 911!
But I am not all free and clear. The extreme hot flashes flare up my anxiety. I just can’t cool down and my anxiety reacts. Then there is the weight gain. That is a whole different kettle of fish. Having had an eating disorder when I was younger I had a difficult time with such a drastic weight gain. Being in menopause brings to life the reality that you have crossed over into that “an older lady” group. So I felt old and fat and ugly. It is difficult to be overjoyed when you feel that way about yourself.
I had to make changes because although I was not plagued with the mood swings, I was not happy. I have since lost a lot of the weight…in a healthy way. I felt so bad about myself I did not put any effort into trying to improve how I felt. How you look is definitely not what defines you but my size was not good for my legs at all. I started to buy clothes that did not look like they came from the camping isle at Canadian Tire. I got my hair cut. Little things but they did make a difference.
Aging does not mean the end of anything…just a different beginning. I think it is vital for women to feel good about themselves no matter what size or how they look. That does not mean it is wrong that I want to put on some make up or do my hair before I go out. It just makes me feel good. I am still much bigger than I was before menopause but I am ok with that. I have way more wrinkles. I am ok with that. I still try to look somewhat professional when going out.
Now when I am home that is a whole different ball game. Sweats and a t-shirt that I have probably had for the last 10 years but I keep it because it is comfy. Do not try to get me to put on makeup if I am just staying home. Sorry honey but this ain’t the 50’s and I am not going to look like a model when you walk through the door! No matter how scruffy, I am good. Mind you if some hunk of a plumber showed up I would be a little pissed! So I do my thing and if I was to say what was the one best thing I have gained back since I started this total body breakdown….it would be confidence. It is not always there. But I am who I am. I may not be young anymore but I have earned the right to say…screw you! I am a hot babe!