The cold of winter has long since passed, summer is struggling to come into its own as spring rains continue to hold it at bay, but the sun shines today…and with it, so do I.
The Old Man left this morning. Work has sent him out of town again, although it will only be for a few days this time. After a year of his working out of town four days a week, my eventually putting my foot down and stating matter-of-fact it was me or the damn job, his employer finally relented and placed him closer to home, so these trips are now, thankfully, infrequent. So infrequent, that I admit, I miss them sometimes and look forward to them when they now occur. It feels a bit like a vacation knowing I don’t have to worry about picking up the house, throwing in laundry, or fussing over a meal. A nice opportunity to get my bearings.
Life has been unbearably tough on me the last couple of years. Not that I want for anything or that necessities have been denied me, but rather it’s an internal struggle I’ve been dealing with for a while now that has prevented my happiness. One that I’ve had difficulty putting my finger on and figuring out the cause of so that I can find a remedy. Unlike the chronic depression I’ve dealt with all of my adult life and managed to rise above, this lapse of sanity has taken me down unfamiliar avenues, around tight corners, and filled me with anxiety as I turned in circles trying to find my way out of dark rooms without doors. I’ve searched high and low in the many volumes of self-help books that line my shelves, but the answers still eluded me. You see, in my vast library of “Fix-Me” books, there was one topic that none of them touched upon. One subject that I’ve taken little more than a passing interest in, that I never felt could do as much damage as I now recognize that it can. MENOPAUSE.
I started noticing the subtle symptoms around the age of forty, shortly before the Old Man and I got together ten years ago. It was nothing life-altering or even very noticeable at first, just an occasional hot flash now and then like someone turned up the heat, waking up mid-sleep feeling damp and uncomfortable once in a while, and I seemed to get a bit moodier right before my cycle each month. Nothing to get excited about or raise eyebrows over and I even joked a lot about it at first…the whole, growing-old-and-coming-into-my-own, kind of thing. That was then.
After a while I started paying more attention to these little symptoms when they weren’t so little anymore and became annoying. The hot flashes had become very hot, the night sweats were creating little rivers, and I was becoming wifezilla before my periods. That, and interesting things began happening to me that became irritants and I wondered why my body was starting to cosmetically alter itself: I was finding little skin tags and plane warts where there once were none, growing hair in places I never had it before and losing it in my eyebrows (Ugh!), but most disturbing, I was becoming pear-shaped! A very ripe pear-shape. Still, these symptoms were ones—however, annoying—I expected, figured I could live with, and accepted, for the most part.
I didn’t know menopause could make me crazy. Well, crazier than I already am. I had no idea that it could take fucked up to a whole new level for someone who is no stranger to being fucked up, already. But I believe it has. I’ve been blaming my going nuts for a half a dozen years now on everything from the suicide of my best friend to having an unsatisfactory relationship with my husband—and that may account for some of it—but shouldn’t have anything to do with what is happening to me now. In short: I’m just not myself anymore.
Of all the women I’ve talked to—I now consider the fortunate ones, because obviously it hasn’t affected them the same way—not one told me that menopause could change my personality. Other than little tid-bits of information here and there about the annoying hot flashes and night sweats, occasional mood swings and weight gain, and how a woman may start finally finding and accepting herself at long last, no one mentioned, not once, that I might no longer be able to recognize myself. And this, I’ve found, is where the insanity comes in.
I find this particular predicament I’m currently in somewhat akin to what one would feel like transitioning into amnesia. I know who those that knew-me-when expect me to be, but I don’t feel like her anymore. Many of the things I used to enjoy doing, the people I used to enjoy keeping company with, foods I liked, genres of music and literature I was drawn to, the way I dressed, I don’t care for anymore. I feel like there’s a stranger living in my head. I’m constantly worrying over whether I’m acting right or not in the presence of others. With less than a moment’s hesitation I can become enraged, jealous, or overcome by tears over the most trivial of things, but then completely indifferent when it’s something that should matter. I have lapses of memory more often than I care to admit, and these scare the daylights out of me. I pass sleepless nights living in the past, just to comfort myself with the memory of who I was. It’s all very disturbing. And these are but a few of the symptoms that are also accompanied by stress induced headaches, jaw and neck pain, chronic fatigue, and let’s not forget that never-far-from-the-surface old friend, just plain depression.
The worst, I believe, is the loss of passion in my life, though. I have none. I find this really unsettling. I was born under the sign of scorpio, have always been an incredibly passionate person when it came to everything and everyone in my life that mattered, and now take interest in nothing and no one. I try. I really do. But I can’t seem to push myself to make something matter. I start projects: writing, sewing, crocheting, and become disinterested before finishing. I begin to pick up the phone to call someone to plan something, and then refrain for fear that I’ll fail to commit when the time arrives. And there’s this constant need I have to live a different life and be anywhere but here, that is strangled by the fear I have of moving forward and out of my comfort zone. Crazy? You bet!
I happened to stumble upon what I believe is at least the main cause of my current problems just by innocently googling the question Can menopause change a woman’s personality? There it was in black and white, pages upon pages of women going through the same exact shit I am right now, and desperate husbands even adding their two cents about how menopause was destroying their lives and marriages. In a strange way I feel vindicated, almost as if my craziness is justified. I know I no longer feel alone.
I found all of this this morning and needed to write about it. I felt it the perfect time as I have little else to do but allow it to rattle around in my brain for a bit as I’m processing it. I’m still not quite sure what to do about it, or what steps I need to take from this point on to try and get it under control, but at least feel now like a life preserver ring has been tossed into this ocean of worry I’ve been bobbing around in, and that help may be forthcoming. I pray, at least.
Anyway, I wanted to share that with you. If you have any words of wisdom to share with me concerning this, it would be welcomed. There’s plenty of room in my crazy cell for others.