I'm 48. For the last year I've been experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms. I'll spare you the details as you can easily Google "peri-menopausal symptoms" and then hide under a blanket. Caveat-( I'm speaking primarily as a cis woman, but including all genders in here mind you. Cis-men go through andropause and that deeply changes them as well, it's just not so visible and no matter where you are on the gender continuum you will experience hormonal changes related to aging) 

Up to age 47, I had been on the pill, then had arrhythmias (which could have been from the pill and an estrogen reaction OR could have been stress OR could have been both), but went off the pill and then moved across the country and then the fun really began.

Let's just say that I'm back on the (different) pill to manage some of the more egregious and rude symptoms (and i sadly predicted I'd have the rudest ones based on my PMDD and severe post partum depression), but I also started reading a book that I think I stole from my friend Christine which is by Chris Northrup (written in 2001). It's an interesting read for a lot of reasons, the least of which is that it really focuses on how menopause changes a woman's brain entirely.

You are literally the same person, but not the same person after menopause. And you feel such anger and irritation and overall generalized sensitivity to things that you feel as if you are going out of your mind. Which, maybe you are (not to sound ableist but metaphoric). 

Your mind is pumping up FSH and GNRH and it's like a clearance sale on your ovaries. MAKE EGGS, DO MORE BABYTHING, and at the same time, you are realizing how the "end" is near. 

The book is much more "woo" than I expected it to be. The author discusses the anger and irritation as if it's a sign from your body to look at injustice and basically...how to clean up your own life. Which...yes. Always. But also, PMDD and that level of hormonal hijacking is pretty fucking intense. Like....people can hurt themselves, others-I have some seriously terrifying stories from my mother's side of the family regarding PPD, PMDD, and I won't go into that here, but I expect that my sensitivity to injustice was already high, I don't know if I need some hormonal cocktail making it more severe. Maybe I do. Maybe I'd become a more hard core activist and wind up changing the world if I went supplement free.

But I think the thing that does strike me as true, is that peri-menopause is not really a "reverse puberty" as I was joking with my teens, but another larval stage that some human beings go through (in this case me) and that it is and can be a time of deep reflection and change. And anger. And loss and grief. And potentially, joy and transformation and power. 

And our modern world doesn't allow for the time to rest and reflect and spend a week of your (rude) menses just raging and crying and that's pretty messed up. I don't want to subdue my rage with drugs....but I do want to ride it and work with it and see it as power I can channel (while not alienating my loved ones in the process). 

If I'm more sensitive or more blunt, it's because I'm feeling things more intensely (which...frankly...I already did feel things intensely so damn). If I'm impatient it's because I can see how shit needs to be done. If I'm angry it's because I can feel the wrongness happening and want to make change happen. And maybe I'm just cramping hard and bleeding and my skin is itching and I had insomnia. So yeah, that. Maybe I won't be "me" anymore in a few years but I'll be me. How odd that is to think about. 

I'm planning on writing more, thinking more, focusing inward more, monitoring how the extraversion costs me, since being onstage is a power I have, but it feels hard right now.  


  1. Thanks for this, Julie. At 42, I'm beginning the same transition and am also reading Dr. Northrop's book. Communicating about all of this in as sane a way as possible is vital for us and those around us (and those who will experience it later) to come out the other side as our best (new) selves. You are right. It is hard. But I'm dedicated to working through it moment by moment and owning the authenticity of the emotions that come up.


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