Dear Crazy Perimenopausal Wives driving Your Husbands & Family Crazy with Your Perimenopause

by Magnolia on September 7, 2009

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Okay, ladies.  After my last post where I addressed the men in our live; it occurred to me that we should also discuss exactly how much responsibility us gals should take when it comes to how our perimenopause is affecting our spouses,  our children, and maybe even small dogs. So lay down your weapons.  Let’s talk.

First of all, I know what some of you are thinking already………

“Hey! Wait a minute! That’s not fair!  We are the one who are suffering, not them!  Let them have this hell for a month or two!  Then they’ll know how it really feels!”

And that is true – just  not completely.  They are suffering too.  Unfortunately, way too often it is those closest to us who bear the brunt of our raging hormones.  It is a very unpleasant, unintended, but real side-effect.

We just cannot deny the deleterious effect it is having on them as well.  Take for example,  this comment  posted by a daughter of a woman going through perimenopause on a forum discussing said perimenopause:

She’s sarcastic with everything you say to her no matter how nice or sweet it is, she doesn’t care about anything unless it involves herself, and she FLIPS OUT over the LITTLEST things. I CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE! SHES INSANE!

I try to deal with her as LITTLE as possible and just avoid doing things that make her act crazy but it seems like its unavoidable! Its soooo annoying i [sic] just wanna put MYSELF out of my OWN misery living here!

Now, I’m going to be honest and tell you that my first thoughts were: “what a selfish daughter you are!” Clearly this young person has no sympathy or compassion whatsoever toward her mother and what she is going through!

No woman, and I repeat, no woman,  in her right mind would choose to be an out of control, raging hormonal maniac!  Not one. However, that said, it is also true that it is extremely difficult for those around us to cope with it as well.

I know we all want our husbands to be a solid rock for us during this time – and perhaps they often are. But, they are human too, and certainly our children are as well.  So perhaps it’s not fair of us to expect or even want them to be almost God-like toward us when we are clearly channeling the devil.  Though I will confess, it would be nice if they could.

So What Can We Do?

Well, first of all, let’s realize we are not powerless.  Not completely.  I know when we are in the throes of a hormonally induced mood-swing, night sweats, hot flashes, or endless nights of  insomnia rendering us completely and utterly exhausted, we certainly FEEL out of control. 

But, there are still things we can do to help our loved ones, and in doing so, hopefully we will help ourselves as well.

Use Pre-Emptive Strikes

Seriously. A simple heads-up is a great place to start.  Once it has been established that you are indeed going through perimenopause, a good: honey-we-need-to-talk-type-of- conversation might be in order.

Explain to your husband and family what perimenopause is, and no, they don’t know!  It’s happening to you, not them!  Explain what the symptoms are and what they can likely expect.  If you’ve  been in that “not so nice place” already, then you can help them understand why.

Let them know from the get-go, it’s not them or anything they’ve done. And while you’re at it,  go ahead let them know the average time for most women in perimenopause is 5 to 10 years.  So, if they feel they may need to invest in a prescription for Prozac or Valium, now might be a good time.

Bring in Outside Resources

For some husbands and kids, a good book might be useful. For husbands especially, it is helpful if they can see it or read it somewhere else.  It seems to validate it more for them if they can see some real scientific, concrete evidence for your complete and total loss of sanity.

I’ve seen a few books here and there that are written especially for men, but if you can’t find one, just look for something that is straight forward and offers a good explanation for what is happening.  

Keep Everyone Informed & Aware of Your Cycles

I know this may seem a little weird.  Especially for your children.  But, marking days on a centrally located calendar (which was one of my personal strategies) can be helpful as well. 

If  family members have a general idea when “hell week” (as I so affectionately referred to it ) will occur, then they too can brace themselves for any potential melt-downs. (Or find the nearest bunker – whichever seems more practical )

However, also be sure and let them know that perimenopause is not always a cooperative hormone-buddy.  In fact, one of the classic hallmarks of perimenopause is the unpredictability. 

So, try as we may to nail it down, it doesn’t always work that way.  It’s like shadow chasing.  This element alone was enough to drive me absolutely mad. 

Let them know anyway.  You’re trying to be helpful, remember?

Let Them Know You Are Seeing a Doctor and What You Will Do About It

Okay, I mean, you don’t need a bull horn or anything.  But if you’ve already seen a doctor, let them know. If you haven’t seen a doctor yet, get thee to one quickly.

If you are one of those brave souls who plans to get through this time without any of the above, well, I hate you, and you can skip this section.

For the rest of us, it is helpful if our family sees that we are trying to do something about the crazy symptoms.  If we are taking personal responsibility they will see that, and well, every little bit helps.

If All Your Best Efforts Fail – Then What?

Yeah.  Now what, Mags?  I’ve done everything you suggested and I still turned into a fire-breathing dragon.  I’ve scorched the entire earth with my raging mood swings and have sent my children and husband scampering for cover.  So what do I do now?

Apologize.  Apologize.  Apologize.

Yes.  You heard me.  Apologize.  Perhaps you already do this.  Good for you.  It certainly became a regular M.O. for me.  I would make the rounds and tell everyone I was sorry for things I said, how I behaved, and for anything that may have gotten broken in the process. (just kidding – but not totally )

Then I would remind them once again what was happening and ask them for forgiveness and some grace.  This goes a long way ladies.  A humble apology is rarely rejected by those who love you!

Finally, Give Yourself Some Grace

One of my biggest  shortcomings is that I tend to come down very hard on myself for my mistakes and failures. Compound this with the fact that I also tend to be a control freak and perimenopause is a recipe for total neurosis.

Think about it: a control freak trying to control the uncontrollable and then beating myself up for failing to control the uncontrollable. 

Yeah – total psycho.  I know.

But, it has become very clear to me that giving myself a big fat break during this time is extremely helpful.  When you blow it, own up to ,and move on.  There’s really nothing more that you can do.  

The quicker we realize this and accept it, then the easier it is for everyone. Especially you.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anitaa September 8, 2009 at 8:28 am

I am laughing and crying as I read your post. It is all so true. Being in a menopausal type of business ( wicking pajamas) as well as going through the change myself I can totally relate to what you have written. Thanks for brightening my day.

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Andrea (Holy Hormones) September 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

Oh, my—–I love your post, and will direct my blog readers over to your site! I’m successfully on bioidentical hormones (three years) and feeling great, but until I got on them——well, let’s just say I could have used several of those Hello Kitty pink guns (come to think of it, I’d like one anyway just to ride around shotgun—if you will—-in the car!) Have a great day!

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Magnolia September 8, 2009 at 10:02 am

Hi Andrea,

Holy Hormones huh? Looks like I need to be heading to your site as well. Cool blog name. :)

I’ve heard great things about bioidenticals. I personally never got that far and now I’m nearing the end of my hormone journey through hell, so it’s neither here nor there now, I guess.

thanks very much for stopping by. The more the merrier I say and I love to hear from other women.

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ELLIOT December 8, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Mags

it is uncanny when I see myself on every word you write on many of your blogs, but specially on the following one……..”One of my biggest shortcomings, I think, is that I tend to come down very hard on myself for my mistakes and failures. Compound this with the fact that I also tend to be a control freak and perimenopause is a recipe for total neurosis. Think about it: a control freak trying to control the uncontrollable and then beating myself up for failing to control the uncontrollable. Yeah. Psycho.” Add to that, an inmmune system that seems to be shutting down and revealing such decline as asthma, I never head, sensitivities and allergies coming out of the woods, having to work outside the house in a perfume ridden place (perfumes, body lotions, deodorants etc, absolutely kill me!) and for the first time in my life I have heard the word disability attached to my name! I can smell what you had for dinner last night! this is insane! I fight to breath on the outside world for a big part of my days (there are good days of course, but boy do I have to medicate myself to breath) inhalers, singular, I pop antihestamines like candy, and if I drink water and eat lettuce all day, then my body doesn’t react. But I hold on to your words that “this too shall pass” and continue to try to make sense of this and find what’s going to work for me. Please say a prayer or two for me…..would ya?

Thanks Mags
you’re the bomb
EB

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Jenn April 3, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Dear Magnolia
great letters, for wives and husbands. Applause for including the men who care!
I think the most useful thing I have read about menopause is a) get time away when you need it b) rest, rest, and rest when you need it, and c) talk to your family, as you suggest, and let them know you are working on taming the beast, and ask for their patience and help. One cannot go through this alone. Most times, menopause is the wake-up call for Women Who Do Too Much and who have forgotten all about self-care. Thanks for letting the guys know they can help by listening, and just giving their psycho wives some Space. Susun Weed recommends a Crone’s Year Away (not really feasible for married women with children, is it). However, time away, time alone, down time and quiet time are the best healers (on top of whatever remedies are helping).
great blog
jenn/musemother

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Amy April 8, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Hey Mags, the Tweetback button doesn’t work….

and thanks so much for this blog and this article. I was really heading deep into what we assumed was postpartum psychosis, but bioidentical estrogen and 5-HTP have totally changed my life back.

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Magnolia April 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

Hey Amy,

I’ll have to see what’s up with the Tweet button. Listen, I TOTALLY know what you mean about the post-partum psychosis!! Wow, did I ever go there with my last child. I was nearly 43 when I gave birth to her and had conceived her because I had just begun entering perimenopause. So, after she was born I went into hormone hell.

I had never had post-partum depression or anything else that had post-partum as a prefix. :) So, it scared me. But, not nearly as much as the mood swings and rages I began to experience about 2 years later. Wowza.

But, those days are gone for me now, thank God. Please share, if you don’t mind, your experience. I’m certain other readers would be interested in your story!

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Ro Magnolia April 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm

It’s just very soothing to hear someone else describe my symptoms and know that I’m not the only crazy lady around. My husband, God bless ‘em, is ever so patient, but I, alas, cannot claim patience as one of my virtues at the best of times, and now? Well, suffice it to say, I just want to start feeling like myself again … but I suppose that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m impatient with my own impatience, annoyed by my own irritability. What happened to my “happy go lucky” self? Yikes! At least I’m not alone.

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Magnolia April 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Hey Jenn,

I’m sorry I missed your comment before. Must be one of those menopause moments, eh? :) I’m certainly all for downtime, that’s for sure. It’s just so hard for so many of us to get though, you know?

Thanks for stopping by. :)

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Magnolia April 16, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Hello Ro,

No, you absolutely are NOT the only one. Now that I’m well into my 50’s and hoping that menopause will be here soon, I can say with a certainty, that it DOES get better.

I’m much less volatile and feel more myself than I have in years.

It has taken me a long time to get here and I wouldn’t wish that special hell on anyone. I hope you’ll check out some of the books I recommend on bio-identical hormones.

I’m well on my way to using them even though I am almost menopausal. I just want to *feel* well.

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Magnolia September 8, 2009 at 8:31 am

Hello Anitaa, and thanks for the comment. I’ve long since decided if we can’t laugh we are in for a “heap of trouble” you know?

If you need a bigger laugh, be sure and check out my recent post “Gopher Broke”. it’s a true story of a day in the life my own perimenopause mood swings.

Come back and see us. Your perspective and point of view is valuable. :)

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