Menopause: Hello Blank Stare

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Jen bling from Zoe

 A post by Jennifer Delabar

I want to thank Barbara for inviting me to share my tale of woe about menopause.

What can I tell you about menopause that you don’t already know? My story, I’m sure, is a common one. It started with my missing a period here and there starting around age 40 (when my gynecologist advised me that I was just “getting old”), to the present day, when I’m 48 and not too happy with Mother Nature.

I’m too young to be in menopause” I kept expressing to anyone who would listen! I was under the mistaken belief that only women over 50 had to think about menopause.

No one can prepare you for what happens to you when your period finally stops coming. You actually miss those horrible cramps, ruined underpinnings, Dorito binges and black rage weeks. At least with the menstrual cycle there was an end in sight. With menopause there is no hormonal drop at the end of the cycle. It’s crazy-time all the time.

I had gone to my mother as most of us do, for some answers. She told me “I don’t remember going through it”. Thanks, mom.

Back to square one. I was desperate to talk to someone about what was happening in my life. I would be in line at the bank or the grocery store, beads of sweat forming on my forehead and under my eyes, and look at the person behind me and say, “They should really turn up the air conditioning; it’s so warm in here.” Hello blank stare. It was January.

Garage sales were always a big draw for me. Lots of people milling around, there must be other menopausal women there that could commiserate with me! But the only comment I ever received was a disheartening “Oh yeah the hot flashes never go away.”

So alone with nowhere to turn! It’s been three years and countless buckets of sweat have escaped from my pores since my last period. I no longer look for answers from strangers. I have found that most women don’t want to talk about it. We are like a secret society that no one wants to belong to!

I tried to talk to my friends about menopause.They were still getting their periods, and they couldn’t understand what I was going through. They didn’t know how to respond. I could feel their fear and pity looking back at me. Secretly in my evil menopausal brain, I couldn’t wait until they entered menopause and then they would come crawling to me, looking desperately for the answers to those “why” questions.

Why so many hot flashes, why the crying without cause, the depression, why the loss of a sex drive, why the loss of feeling feminine?

I will look at them lovingly and say “I don’t remember.”

Jenifer Delabar is the divorced mother of one awesome son, who is 22 years old. She’s a student of Buddhism. She lives on Long Island and works as a legal secretary and has a degree in funeral service.  Jennifer loves to read, learn, practice yoga and never stops asking questions.

From Barbara: I too, found that many women either didn’t remember menopause or didn’t have much to say when I asked them. That’s why I started this blog. I thank all of you for chiming in with your own experiences!

21 responses »

  1. Ha! My mother said “We didnt go through menopause back then”! I continue to be dumbfounded. I am sorry you had to go trhough it alone, Jennifer. It can be a lonely ride. Thank heavens I had Barbara Younger as a dear Friend For The Ride!!!!

    • I’m just curious, Sandy, are your hot flashes the same as in your prime menopausal transition years, or are they different in nature?

      • Hi Sandy, I’m trying to reply back to you, but not sure this is going to be in the right sequence!

        I am sure that this lessening of intensity is very welcome information to the many menopausal women who are reading this!

        Apparently, hot flashes can occur for 20 years after the menopausal transition in some women!

        In my own experience (I’m in my early 60’s), I find that whenever my hormone levels change (even, at this point, through “phytoestrogens”, I get night sweats (I have always gotten night sweats, rather than hot flashes). So, if after a few days of not using my phytoestrogen cream, I apply it again before sleeping, I will most definitely find that I wake up with night sweats! I had once read that it wasn’t the lack of estrogen that caused night sweats, but rather the changing levels of hormones. This seems consistent with my experience!

        I would be remiss here, if I did not add that hot flashes in some older post-menopausal women can be caused by some medical conditions other than those menopausal in nature; so ,it’s of course important for anyone reading this to know that symptoms like this should be checked out by one’s doctor.

        Anyways, I’m so very glad to know that your hot flashes aren’t as intense!

  2. I have been surprised as well over the years with how some women have an opinion on everything suddenly seem mute. I think it is admitting getting older that some women do not want to accept. It is denial. If they talk about menopause side effects it must mean they are old and maybe undesirable? If they don’t talk about menopause and the side effects they can stay in denial or I call it the banks of the river DaNile!

    • Haralee’s right, people may often want to deny what is happening to them. This is
      especially so when we feel it is negative, unpleasant, and/or bringing us pain. And, aging is not something that many of us have seen from positive perspectives.

      Perhaps, for many of us in the baby boomer generation, we did not anticipate the
      reality of “aging and getting older.” In fact, isn’t that the very sentiment we might
      see catered to in a lot of the commercials in the media these days? You might see, for example, a woman who looks 40, and says something such as “I’m 60, and I’ve got my
      whole life ahead of me.” She’s not overweight, she wears clothes that seem like
      she might have worn during her college days (appropriately layered for her
      active lifestyle), and she’s enthusiastically talking to us while engaged on a
      walking trail!

      Truth is, some of us will find aging and menopause harder than others (due to our earlier life experiences, biological profiles, social, and personal circumstances, etc.). It’s important to know that there are solutions (both during menopause and after) that can help you get through these times. But, first you first have to recognize, and boldly declare. . .”It’s okay to get older, and I’m in menopause!!”

  3. I agree and while I have talked to numerous people about menopause I have no insight into why no one really talks about it. Maybe they want to forget it. I certainly would like to but my body isn’t allowing that at this point. Sandy’s comment is unnerving! One of the best comments I have heard was from an acquaintance’s husband “It’s mentalpause” I totally agree.
    The lack of knowledge from medical professionals has been surprising and disappointing and they are only too happy to give drug du jour. The latest thing being renamed Paxil. Good grief.

    • I agree that we might want to look beyond drugs like Paxil for relief from some
      of the symptoms of depression and anxiety experienced by many post-
      menopausal women. Importantly, there are some gentler ways to accomplish
      intervention/ supplementation than with pharmaceutical drugs.

      Paxil works by affecting serotonin. There may be other physiological causes in depression however. Dopamine, for example, may in some instances
      be very important in the process of depression. And, interestingly, Maca
      (discussed in earlier post responses) may have an influence upon the dopamine
      system within our bodies.

  4. I hear you Jennifer!
    I asked my Mom who can’t even remember having menopause, and my sister, who unfortunately had a hysterectomy at 30 and was on HRT for years and didn’t have a typical “pause”, and then all my friends / acquaintances who acted like I was from Mars! I was lost.
    Fortunately my daughter, who is an avid follower of Barbara’s daughter Kath’s blog, thought I may benefit from Friend For The Ride and the rest is history. It was so comforting to read other women’s stories and feel like I had comrades for this passage.
    We are here for you!

    • Since we are all only human, we look for someone to talk to. I never though menopause would be a big deal, until I tried to talk to people about it. Thank God for Barbara! I want to be the person that my friends can come to to complain or ask questions about this change in life, which should be wonderful! Remember when we all said “I can’t wait for my periods to be over”!

  5. I am always the odd man out. I’m 47 with no period and feel great.Still want sex and cannot really relate to all this menopause talk. Very little hot flashes but nothing has changed since my period stop no mood swings, nothing …..but I also could never relate to woman going on and on about pms either all my life. I hope things get better for all you gals

  6. I’m going to take Jennifer’s last comments, “Why so many hot flashes, why the
    crying without cause, the depression, why the loss of a sex drive, why the loss of
    feeling feminine?” and I’m going to respond to each with my own experience:
    I didn’t have a lot of “hot flashes,” but I, instead had “night sweats.” These
    actually do not seem as awful as hot flashes. Instead, I had a lot of wet sheets,
    soaked nightclothes, but they really were not that much of a problem, nor did they
    keep me up at night. This is not to say that broken sleep, and insomnia, did not
    rear their ugly head to disrupt my REM sleep, but only that I don’t think it was the
    night sweats that caused it.

    As to “crying without cause;” well, not so much for me. I, instead, found myself
    indignantly “angry,” and having some real problems with feeling okay with some
    of my best intimate relationships (luckily these cherished people understood, and
    we are all still together as “family.”)

    I also, have to say that “hormonal imbalances” had a lot to do with this. One of
    my chosen remedies during perimenopause due to my readings was “Vitex
    Agnos Castus” ( this was supposed to “balance” my hormones). Instead, it
    turned out to be a “nightmare” remedy for me. Hence, my very “angry”
    disposition. I only learned the truth of this years later (but, that’s a whole other
    story).

    Depression. Some of us don’t apparently suffer from PMS, but I did. Not so much
    early in my life, but definitely when I was around my 30’s. Depression (during
    and after menopause) may definitely rear its ugly head for those of us who
    had problems balancing ( or responding to) our hormones during our menstrual
    cycles. This may portend some problems later in menopause. This can really be
    helped, and I hope to write about this soon.

    Loss of sex drive? Well, vaginal dryness (or, apparently, even a loss of
    testosterone) can cause this in a “New York Minute” (or Des Moines, or
    elsewhere!) It affects all of us. But, of course, there are also those other mood
    problems, as well (complicating factors). All of these things can be helped!

    Finally, the loss of feeling feminine. Okay, I battled this one, with my less than
    streamlined belly, and very definite longings for my earlier self who had been
    amply supplied with estrogen. But, feminine is a “state of mind,” and our body
    responds!

    So, Jennifer, and anyone else with these worries and problems – You can be
    okay and thrive!

    • It is very important for me to mention here that the concept of “thriving” as women is something that I first saw introduced and developed by Dr. Christiane Northrup. She so brilliantly discusses this idea of “thriving” and “flourishing” in her writings on her website and in her newsletters.

      In fact, it is because of authors such as Dr. Christiane Northrup and Susun S. Weed that I never felt that I had to face “blank stares,” about menopause, and I always felt that I had good advice and guidance. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for Susun Weed’s writings, I would not have known to ask my doctor to keep my ovaries when I had to have a hysterectomy. I am so grateful to have had access to Dr. Christiane Northrup’s “The Wisdom of Menopause,” and Susun S. Weed’s, “The New Menopausal Years” during my menopausal transition in the mid-90’s and early 2000’s. Of course, back then, Barbara’s wonderful website and information source, “Friend for the Ride” was yet to be born!

    • I agree to that! We will be ok as long as there are bloggers and books out there to at least have other stories to hear about. I have tried a lot of natural remedies and so far the one for me that has addressed all of my issues is Menoquill. It claims to be natural. Definitely worth a try!

      • Yes, books (and very insightful authors) were my main source back then when I was going through menopause. But, what I have found is that being part of a community like Barbara’s “Friend for the Ride” can help provide immediate information from many, many women, and the dialogue is invaluable. And, yes, the need to have someone to actually “talk to” like you said earlier is so important, and the ability to have that conversation take place can be so healing.

        Just think, if Barbara’s website had existed back when I was having horrifying experiences with the herb Vitex Agnus Castus during perimenopause, other people’s experiences might have helped me understand this and put a quick end to it!

        I love having a community to be part of in this discussion on menopause; I have learned so much!

  7. I can commiserate with you. The only reason I don’t put all my writings about menopause and hot flashes on my blog is my one attempt at kindness to my triplet eighteen year olds. It’s their last year at home and I decided since my blog is shared on Facebook with many of their friends who may not want to know about my cycle or lack thereof, I’ll wait til theyeave for college before I pu it all out there. But maybe not. I may post it all tomorrow. Thanks for doing what you do. Lisa Kunk

    • Triplets!

      Love to have you write a guest post for Friend for the Ride if you have a bit of time. I’m always looking for menopause stories. We could hide it from the triplets.

      And enjoy. That last year at home can be a roller coaster but it’s a wonderful time too

  8. My sister is going through this and she actually has blank stare moments and I’m wondering if it’s hormonal, I’m an RN and Health Coach and Young Living Essential oil and supplement distributor so I did her biofeedback test and Common sense oil blend came up and Progessence plus. She says they are helping and exercise & eating healthy are too.
    I’m still nursing my 2 yo and am just sleep deprived due to having 4 children and my husband is working night shift. Oh and she’s my twin sister but she had a hysterectomy 3 years ago due to problems with endometriosis. And she’s only 41 yo. Hope this helps and she has 8 children, so a lot of stress.

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