Guest Post: Pushing Fifty or Pushing Puberty

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I am so pleased to have an opportunity to visit with my Pausin’ Sisters here.  Thank you so much for the invitation, Barb!

Over at my blog www.RemarkableWrinklies.com I explore a lot of areas of aging and living well during the “passage” years.  And what I’ve learned is, as I was thrust into peri-menopause, my life seemed to come full circle…

I was once again in puberty.

I was sleeping all day.  I wasn’t sleeping at all.  I was getting zits.  I was crying.  I was giddy.  I was angry.  I was touchy.  I was anxious.  Everybody hates me, nobody likes me, think I’ll eat some worms.

I was a teenager again for God’s sake!

For me, I was experiencing a return to many of the “joys” of puberty.  Periods I couldn’t count on.  Moods I couldn’t count on.  Sore boobs.  Skin that betrayed me.

There I was 50 years old, looking at myself in the mirror and seeing the 14 year old me looking back, all petulant.  And yes, I was ticked off because I was going on vacation and there was a big zit on my nose!  Really?  Here I was 50 years old putting zit cream on my face!  Slamming doors.  Stomping feet.  Pouting.  It was all back.

But, because I knew I WASN’T in puberty, I knew I had to be instead;

a) going mad,

b) having a heart attack,

c) getting mean,

d) on fire, and

e) seeing skin cancer.

It was a bit scary at times.  But, once I learned I was back in puberty with all the familiar hormonal ups and downs, I started to relax a little.  I had come full circle, much to my chagrin.  The feeling of; “Wasn’t I here before?” was disturbing at times, but I got through it.

So, would you like to know how it ends?

Now that I have ‘crossed over’ to menopause, I can look back with a certain amount of clarity via the gift of hindsight.  Those dozen or so years of peri-menopause may feel like a blip on my life’s radar screen, but I learned something.  When I first entered my “puberty re-enactment” or peri-menopause, I didn’t know what to expect.  Like Barb said in her post, Not Your Cookie Cutter Menopause, the menopause years are not punched out cookie-cutter style.

Even if hundreds of women chose my biscuit cutter to ‘cut out’ how their peri-menopause looks (coming full-circle back to puberty), there would be so many differences.  Menopause is definitely not cookie-cutter style, just like puberty is not cookie-cutter style, either.  The lists of symptoms and complaints are endless, and endlessly confusing.  None of us can be sure how our journey will go.  As my Mom said; “Aging is not for the timid.”  And, in the arms of our friends, we’ll find the strength to stay bold and strong, and just get through the whole thing… maybe even with a few laughs.

Thank you again, Barb, for inviting me to share my thoughts.  I sure enjoy coming here and reading what you and your community of friends have to say.  I’m sure I’ll see you around again soon!

Patti Winker believes that “women of a certain age” need to share their stories in order to stay connected and live well.  At www.RemarkableWrinklies.com, she writes about aging and health, but also likes to wax nostalgic once in a while and have a few laughs along the way.  It’s all a part of this great time in our lives.  When Patti’s not riding her bike, she’s in her kitchen, or traveling with her husband, or playing with her family, the grandkids, the cats, and the dogs.

21 responses »

  1. Puberty was tough! Things were changing and I could predict nothing. And to add even more stress, there were BOYS to worry about! Thanks for an insightful post!

    • Thank you, Susan. Yes, puberty was tough. And the BOYS! At least during peri-menopause I only had to deal with ONE ‘boy’ – my husband – and I swear he was crazier than I was! Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, and for the nice compliment.

  2. I guess peri-menopause was alot like puberty. Many of the same problems. And dealing with relationships in general was difficult. Hard to deal with people when you are grumpy! I am so glad it is all over. Now I often just deal with old age stuff which can be difficult too unfortunately. And probably no possibility of it easing up. Bring out the gratitude journal so we can stay focused on the positive!

    • Thank you, Gail. I am experiencing a very real relief of most of the symptoms now that I actually went into menopause. Once I marked my 12 months of no periods on the calendar, the hot flashes became almost (not entirely) a thing of the past. My most disturbing symptom was the night sweats, and they are gone. My crankiness subsided, at least for the most part. 😉 Now it takes an actual outside force to make me cranky – it’s no longer built in. And, yes, now it’s the aging stuff I’m working on. Healthy eating and regular exercise are helping with that. And you are right… staying focused on the positive helps everything! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Oh my goodness, Kay! I have ZitZap or similar stuff in my bathroom for the first time in 40 years. And I resist using it because it’s so drying. I’m trying to pump moisture into my skin and here I am drying it out. sheesh! The breakouts have subsided, but, just like puberty, if I have something special planned, sure enough, I’ll get a big ol’ zit on my nose! Adding insult to injury, wouldn’t you say? Thanks for sharing your tale of woe with me, Kay. I don’t feel so lonely anymore.

  3. Oh the reminders, Patti …. and now, 8 years into my menopause, having survived a period of having hot flashes every 30 minutes, (I kid you not, I wrote down the times for my doctor as I thought it may be dangerous — it wasn’t), I can now say that my hot flashes are less frequent and not as raging in your face hot …. In fact I can flip on my desk fan and get through them so much quicker than before. So you younguns in your 40s and early 50s out there, just starting this journey, it does get better with time (as does a couple other things I could mention). 🙂

    • ahhh… Thank you, OSS, for stopping by to comment. I so appreciate your willingness to share your story. Like you, I still get the occasional hot flash, but it’s different now… it’s more in my scalp and less in my face, which causes my hair to get totally whimpy, but that’s okay. It beats the ‘face-on-fire’ that would scare people. 😉 Now, it’s more of a nuisance. I’m still battling the occasional zit and mood swing, but it’s nothing like it was. Like you said – watch out 40s and early 50s ladies! For me, at least, that peri-menopause stuff was for the birds. I so much more enjoy (?) being in menopause. And, yeah, with age comes wisdom and ain’t that a kick in the pants!? Thanks again, OSS, for sharing. I appreciate it more than I can say.

  4. What bugs me almost more than hot flashes is the common usage of the word “symptoms” in conjunction with peri-menopause and menopause. We don’t usually say “symptoms” of puberty or “symptoms” of pregnancy. None of these is a disease or abnormality. Why not say “indicators” or “signs”? (Maybe the euphemism, “change of life” was a little more accurate!)

    • Good point, Claritza. Yeah, it’s not like anything is being ‘diagnosed’ with these ‘symptoms.’ I saw a testing lab recently that was advertising for menopause tests. For about $150 you could have blood drawn and they would check to see if you were approaching menopause, based on hormone levels, I guess. WT??? If you’re a woman in your 40s you are approaching menopause for the next, oh say 10 to 15 years, thereabouts. This whole thing reminds me of when menstruation pads had images of nurses on them. And they were called ‘sanitary protection’ as if there is something inherently disease-ridden about our menses. So, yes, I agree – the term “symptoms” needs to be re-examined. “Change of life” is definitely more accurate. What about “passage?” Anyone else have any ideas? Thanks so much, Claritza for giving us this important topic to discuss. Words have power, as we know. Finding the right terms to use can only help improve understanding of what we are going through.

  5. I think i’ll go eat worms too!! Loved this post! What i find interesting is that my mom and many others in her generation swear they never had menopause symptoms. Is that really possible?

    • Think I’ll eat some worms! Too funny, Judy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You brought up a very interesting subject – our elders saying none of this “menopause stuff” existed. Or it was a breeze for them. HOWEVER, as I recall with my mother and the other women in my family of that age, cocktail time was very elaborate and very important! I think, therefore, some of this menopause “stuff” was either medicated, forgotten, glossed over, or just never talked about. I really don’t think women talked about a lot of health and personal issues. Also, there was a time Valium was prescribed for everything from “nervousness” to “sleeplessness.” Now, I’m not saying anyone’s mother was on Valium, but the simple fact that doctors were prescribing it to “shut women up” could be a factor – no one was talking! It’s not physically possible for women not to experience the changes that come with menopause. Hormone fluctuation plays havoc with our bodies. We either talk about it or we don’t. I suspect years ago, we didn’t. Now we do. Thankfully! Thank you, Judy, for stopping by and raising this important issue.

      • good point patti. cocktail hour might have been the cure back then. i never thought of that. and you are right, women were much more private. i am SOOOO glad we are more open now. and i do remember my mother being very weepy. she just didn’t realize that it was the pause.

  6. Is 8am too early for cocktail hour? LOL
    I know a few women who claim they breezed through it. I’m not one of those. I’m 45 and these “indicators” started when I was 38. Of course I hit puberty early too—in elementary school. I was the freaky chick with boobs in 3rd grade. It’s funny now. It wasn’t then.

    The past few months things have “speeded” up. I hope that is an indicator of nearing the end. Another year of this is not on my list of fun things to do, much less another 3 or 4. Bleh!

    I have to wear baggy clothes because I’m bloated, a lot. My chest stays broken out. My underarms stay broken out. No cute, stylish sleeveless tops for me. And the hair? Greasy hair just like a teenager. If your hair is only a bit oily and you have to run out the door and can’t wash it—a bit of baby powder will freshen it up. 😉

    As for positive thoughts–which at times are very difficult—I just remind myself that all of the women who have gone before me say it’s nice on the other side. I’m ready for the other side. Night sweats used to be monthly, now they are nightly.

    As for women not talking about it before, all they ever told me was, “Honey, you just wait.” Oh that was sooooo helpful, wasn’t it? I guess they didn’t want to scare us too bad. LOL

    Thanks for sharing this post, Patti. I know we are not alone like women in the past, but some days you do still feel alone.

    • 8 a.m.? hmmmm… Mimosas? Bloody Marys? LOL is right. I’m so glad to see you here, Patti!

      I like that you’ve picked up the term “indicator.” Maybe this will catch on, eh?
      I was a late bloomer so my peri-menopause set in about age 44 and lasted for about 10 years. Thinking back, I remember the indicators being of differing degrees of seriousness, from dangerously heavy periods (needing medication) to greasy hair (quick fix for me was cornstarch.) And it does seem that the indicators crescendo.

      Once I got into that strange world of a period every 3 to 6 months, I was anxious for it just to be over! I even went 9 months, then bang… period…. so I had to start counting the months all over again! It felt like an assignment of some sort. But finally, I reached the finish line, 1 full year. Yippee!

      And, yes, it’s nice on the Other Side. I get an occasional hot flash but it mostly just makes my scalp sweaty (keep the baby powder or cornstarch handy.) I never get night sweats anymore (Thank God! THAT was the worse!) So, yes, it’s much more comfortable “over here.” Take heart.

      I agree, it would have been helpful for our foremothers to share their experiences. I do believe there were many reasons they didn’t, the most evident to me was the society of male doctors telling women “It’s all in your head.” Today, we Pausin’ Sisters rock the internet and other get-togethers with our stories. I think it’s one of the best things we can do for our daughters and all young women – get the truth out. Then and only then will women not feel so alone in their struggles with this stage in our lives.

      Thank you, Patti, for sharing your experiences and your thoughts. Again, you are not alone, and, yes, this too shall pass! 😀

  7. Many of our mothers and grandmothers had more flexible days than most of us do. When we
    have such tight schedules I think it makes our symptoms worse. And I really think our additive filled diets have made wrecks of our bodies. Think about the quality of food our parents ate. Growing
    up it was ALL homemade. Boxed pizza mixes were a big deal on Saturday nights…..when we had baby sitters. I do remember my aunt and mama talking about menopause and a friends mother
    talked about it too. I worry when I see ladies taking so many things to “stop” menopause. It is part of our natural progress the sooner we get started the sooner we end it!

    • Thank you, Robin, for sharing these insights. Yes, of course, our diets! I’m glad you brought that up because I really believe you are right. Our diet has a lot to do with how we feel and how we move through the ‘passage.’ Our foremothers were most likely eating whole foods rather than a lot of processed foods and drinks with all the additives we see today.

      I do agree that today’s women feel the pull from all sides, often sensing the need to be super-charged and ON all the time. So, yes, perhaps even if our mothers and grandmothers were working from morning to night, they weren’t being measured by today’s standard of ‘super woman.’ I remember being in the office-work world and having hot flashes that were out there for everyone in the office to witness. My Mom was not in this situation, so she could walk outside to her garden and no one would notice. If she couldn’t sleep, she could send us to school and then sneak in a nap later before she had to hustle and get dinner ready, and no one would be the wiser.

      In regard to the methods used to “stop” menopause, I agree. I said from early on that I would not use anything – creams, pills, or whatever – to make what was gonna happen, happen. Did I suffer? Yeah. I had MANY sleepless nights, was tired, cranky, and thought my sheets caught on fire, right before I fell into a pool of my own sweat. BUT… I knew that if I took anything it would only postpone the inevitable, and I wanted to get it over with. This does not include, however, the hormone I had to take (progesterone) right in the very beginning of peri-menopause because I was having dangerously heavy periods. After 1 year, I was off and my periods were back to normal for the next 10 years, naturally ending right on schedule.

      And again I say from the Other Side, for any woman in the throes of peri-menopause, it’s going to be okay. You just have to share your stories, have a few laughs, eat well, and get regular exercise. Thanks again, Robin, for reminding us about taking care of our diets and to question every decision we make when it comes to ‘treating’ menopause.

  8. I am so grateful that you posted this link for me to reread this! I had read it when it first came out, but it didn’t fit me right then. However, I had a day that replicated your experience, JUST YESTERDAY! I tried to blame it on all kinds of things, but now I know. Heading on the ride, and grateful to know there are ladies all around me that will pile into the car and go on the journey just because they know the route. Thanks again!

  9. Thank you, Lisa! “… because they know the route.” THAT was an awesome way to put it!

    I’m glad the Pausin’ Sisters are here for you. Barbara has a very neat community, and that’s what it’s all about – having friends along for the ride. 😉 Just remember to keep your ‘cool’ no matter what you have to do. Also remember, it will pass. Take care and thank you again, both for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

  10. Pingback: The Moon and The Menses – aka The Lunar Link | Friend For The Ride

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