I was very happy with the response from my last post “F#%k the last 10 LBS.” I was teaching a group fitness class last week and at the end of class a woman came up to me and said, ” you are quite the talk of the town!” My initial reaction was , oh boy, what did I say? I was ready for a reprimand. She must have noticed the look on my face because she quickly added – oh your last blog, it had us all talking. We talked about how many women feel a lot like I have – bewildered by the pressure we put on ourselves for perfection. Turns out this topic had some juiciness in it. I had hit on something that was important for women. And truly, this is my desire in writing, to get women talking about what is holding them back from being perfectly OK with themselves.
Something else I really like to talk about is my entrance into menopause. I am surprised how quiet women are about this inevitable process. I often make humorous references to how my mind has trouble finding certain words or names of people that I think I should remember. The women in my class giggle and nod knowingly. Yet, unless I bring up the topic, I don’t hear much about how women are dealing with it. In fact, I had no idea that I was in peri-menopause for several years. I had no education or exposure to what it looks or feels like. Not until I experienced my first light warm flash, did I realize that I might be in peri-menopause.
Are we embarrassed?
Just trying to cope?
I remember a few years ago working with a spritely woman who was struggling through a harsh diagnosis of fast developing MS. I had mentioned to her that I kept on forgetting things and was having difficulty retrieving words. I shared that I thought I was experiencing early on-set Alzheimers. She laughed and said, “oh honey, that’s just peri-menopause… and it gets worse.” Apparently, the symptoms of menopause are noticeable and challenging even for someone dealing with MS. She wheeled herself over to her bookcase and handed a big book into my hands entitled – MENOPAUSE AND THE MIND: The Complete Guide to Coping with the Cognitive Effects of Perimenopause and Menopause – Including Memory Loss, Foggy Thinking and Verbal Slips by Claire L. Warga Ph.D.
I read the book voraciously, devouring its words of support. The author explained that she had to write the book as so many of her female patients were coming to her worried that they were losing their minds.
“Are you between the ages of 35 and 60 and having trouble remembering your best friend’s phone number?
In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Warga, a neuropsychologist, identifies the “mind misconnect” syndrome that causes unsettling events during perimenopause and menopause, noting that they are not signs of imminent madness but a natural part of aging.”
Thank-you, Claire Warga Ph.D.!
It was such a relief to confirm that I was indeed ok and NOT losing my marbles! The book allowed me to lighten up on myself and have a humorous approach to menopause. It was a game changer.
What it taught me was that this was acceptable, and normal, and that I had to introduce new strategies to deal with my memory issues, and to let go of the rest and even find humour in it.
In full disclosure, I am not known as a highly organized person. I am forgiven by my dear clients as my abundance of good energy seems to make up for it. Add the affects of menopausal forgetfulness and I can be a total mess. The challenge of menopause has forced me to create new strategies and surprisingly, I am more organized at this time in my life. Who would have thought it?
My techniques are as follows:
- Write everything down that I KNOW I will forget – and don’t lose the list – duh….(I make full use of colourful “sticky notes” of various sizes. They are my life savers)
- Be aware of PRESENCE – am I really here ? – keep checking in (constantly)
- Don’t overplan my day – KNOW what I need to do for just this day. And SCHEDULE a relaxed lunch, a rest, or a coffee break with a friend
- Don’t be in a rush – go to bed early enough so I can get up early enough (easily) so that I can fit in a meditation, breakfast, planning for the day, and a relaxed walk to my work (fresh air).
- Schedule TIME OFF – weekends are sacred. I will very rarely work a weekend. They are lightly planned and include LOTS of space to do nothing.
As soon as I am rushed, late, or unplanned, I become anxious and feel stressed out and I am more apt to start forgetting things. I see a red flag when I over schedule or double book or forget an appointment. It is a sure sign that my rhythm is off. I tune into this as quickly as possible so that I can self correct sooner than later. I allow for mistakes and follow up with lots of forgiveness for myself.
I can say that I am comfortable in this time of transition when I know that what I am experiencing is to be expected and shared by most other women. I think that we can be better at supporting one another, and normalizing this time of life by sharing our experience with each other.
Keeping it real
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