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Dear Magnolia……Does Anybody Really Give a Crap?

by Magnolia on September 7, 2014

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Today’s Dear Magnolia post is from Lisa.

Lisa is grieving.

Yes, she’s also experiencing other symptoms of perimenopause, namely,  anxietydepression, and other symptoms related to estrogen dominance.  But, she’s also struggling with grief .

Grief is the part of perimenopause that no one talks about.  Well, not very much.

Grief doesn’t sell.

You can’t take birth control pills, drugs, hormones, or some kind of food supplement, to erase the sadness and heavy heart one feels when grieving. No amount of therapy really helps either.

And you don’t just “get over” grief.  You have to go through it.  That’s it.  There are no short-cuts or easy ways out.  You have to feel the emotions, experience the sadness, and work your way through to the other side.¹

Most of you know that I recently became divorced.  At the beginning of the divorce process in 2011, my father died.  Just after my divorce was final in 2013, my mother died.

Ask me about grief.

Grief in perimenopause might not be as overwhelming as the grief of losing a parent or one’s marriage. But there is loss in perimenopause: Loss of fertility.  Loss of youth.  Loss of the life you once knew, to be replaced by a new life that just doesn’t feel the same.

But there’s more: You lose your hormones, and with them your physical body changes.  You become susceptible to new and sometimes difficult health challenges.  Your children, if you have them, are likely grown or close to it.  They are leaving or will be leaving the nest soon.  And before you know it, you’re officially a senior citizen.

Oh, there’s loss in perimenopause alright.  And where there is loss, there is grief.

I thought Lisa’s comment was very poignant; a perfect example of how so many women feel when they are grieving in perimenopause.

Lisa

Hi Magnolia.

I just wanted to add my voice to the many women who’ve thanked you for sharing your experience and wisdom on this blog. I’m 43 and perimenopausal (at least, I think I am; I had a hysterectomy six years ago and only kept one ovary, so I don’t have periods).

After a few crippling bouts of anxiety and depression to the point where I was housebound, my doctor had some blood work done and explained I was in perimenopause.

She put me on bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. After several months of no improvement I got myself a saliva test that indicated I was estrogen dominant. So I’ve cut out the estrogen and have had my progesterone increased from 100 mg to 200 mg.

It’s only been a month on that regimen, so I think I have a long way to go. She also thinks I may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. I guess the stress of feeling like crap all the time, and the fact that I don’t sleep well anymore has compromised my system even worse.

The hardest part is, I think, the grief. I go through bouts of anxiety and depression, but the grief is just constant. It’s this sadness that just follows me everywhere.

It’s in every thought and everything I do. I have such a hard time explaining how I feel to people who’ve never been there.

My kids are still fairly young (11 and 8).  But, all I can do is cry over the fact that they’re not babies anymore. I feel so old and useless.

I used to take great pride in keeping a good house and being a good cook. Now, all I do is look around and think how I’m only good for cleaning toilets and frankly, who gives a crap about dinner?

Anyway, I just had to thank you. You’ve helped me keep what’s left of my sanity. And even though I’m not convinced this will ever end, it helps to hear from other women who’ve survived and are enjoying life on the other side.

Magnolia

Dear Lisa,

Your comment touched me.  I was in my early 40s when I began to go through perimenopause too.  My children, like yours, were also young.

I remember feeling exactly the way you feel.  I was getting older, my looks were leaving with each passing year, and my children would one day grow up and leave too.  “Who am I and what am I living for?” was a constant refrain in my head.

That you’ve had a hysterectomy probably adds an additional layer of sadness as your children grow older, because you can’t have anymore without your ovaries and uterus.

Losing a vital part of your body can also trigger grief.

It is very common for women to question their worth and value when they start entering perimenopause.  In Western culture where youth and beauty are revered, perimenopause and menopause feels like a death sentence for American women.

Though we would like to say that we are women, hear us roar, and that none of these things affect us; the truth is, we can’t escape the pressures of our society and culture.  When we are bombarded every day with messages that tell us we are useless and unwanted because we are no longer young, beautiful, hot, and sexually desirable, it’s can be depressing.

I’ve been in menopause for well over 3 years now.  I am passed the grief of losing my youth, my looks, and my fertility.  I am now edging closer to 60.  If I had a choice, I would certainly choose youth over senior citizen.  But, one of the gifts of menopause is self-acceptance.

I’ve come to terms with moving past the years of reproduction and I’ve made peace with it.  I’m not 30 years old any longer.  Not even 40 or 50.  And that’s okay.  I no longer live with the nagging of pressure to please everyone as we as women often do.

If someone does not accept me for who I am, exactly the way I am – and that includes how I look – I do not lose one iota of sleep over it.  I truly do not care.

I’m now in graduate school pursuing my masters, and soon, my doctorate in a field of study I’ve always loved.  I’m doing things that make me happy.  Of course, you still have a few years to go before you can do things for yourself. But, those years are coming, and I can assure you you will feel less sad as you inch closer to menopause.

For now, I would encourage you to give yourself permission to feel sad.  It will pass. Be kind to yourself. Savor the time you have left with your children.  They do in deed grow up and move on.  But, your relationship with them will also change and they will love you and need you still.

Just in different ways.

And you know, I still cook dinner for mine (who are now in their 20s and late teens), and they do give a crap. They don’t always show it in the ways that I wish they would, but I know they are appreciative for the things I do for them.

Thank you for sharing your story here.  Women like you are why I get up everyday and write this blog.

I give a crap too. :)

Magnolia

¹If you are interested in reading more about the process of grief, Swiss psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, has written extensively on grief and the grief process.  Her last book was entitled On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss.  I haven’t read On Grief and Grieving, but if it is anything like On Death and Dying, I’m certain it will be worth the purchase.

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