• Jenny Henderson

So this is Perimenopause....

Updated: Aug 11

I've been particularly hesitant about sharing this, however, if it starts a conversation or helps someone to feel less alone, helps a husband understand his wife, a child understand their mother or a friend understand a friend then it's worth it.....


It appears I’ve levelled up and am entering the next phase of life and I’m writing this to ask you to bare with me. So far the waters have been quite treacherous as I navigate the hormones, fatigue and try to remain sane while functioning at a reasonable level, let alone the same level as I did before.

The thing is, no one educates us on this, what to expect or when to expect it. Yes I understand it's different for every woman, but as a late starter (boobs, pubes and periods) I wasn't expecting this next phase to happen this early for me, and I certainly wasn't prepared. As pre-teens we have 'sex education' lessons at school, and learn about the body changes associated with becoming a woman, why are we not taught about what happens next? and where are we supposed to turn for help, support and advice when it does?


For me, It all started with sleep, or lack of it. I didn’t know what was happening, but no matter how exhausted I was, no matter how sleepy and tired, the required result eluded me, and it still does. I’ve tried every natural remedy under the sun, I tried being in the sun more (or at least daylight when winter allows it). I cut back on caffeine and processed food, stopped drinking alcohol (and became even more miserable), I tried baths and no screens before bed, shakti mats and sleep apps. I tried a variety of natural sleep drugs as well as prescription drugs but nothing works. If, by chance, I manage to fall asleep, I often wake because I'm overheating, finding myself kicking off the covers while my husband is snuggling further under them. It feels like my body is rebelling against me, I’m tired but can’t sleep, and when he slips into the rhythmic breath of slumber next to me, I find myself getting angry, frustrated but ultimately jealous that he is doing what I can’t.


It’s not just sleep though, I’ve lost motivation for the things that normally bring me joy, I’m too tired to exercise, too tired to make the right decisions about what to eat, I’m not hungry until I’m ravenous and then I eat whatever is easiest. I really don’t care what I have.

I’m unable to make up my mind about anything. Or maybe I just don’t have the energy it would take to focus on it. I can’t concentrate, I’ll be mid sentence and can’t find the word I’m looking for, or worse, what I was even talking about. I’ll read the same paragraph a dozen times before it computes. I start something and get so easily distracted, forgetting what my intention was.


My emotions seem amplified, there are days when I am ridiculously emotional, I cry for no reason and at the silliest of things. Times when I feel like there is a whole new level of crazy inside me, I lose my shit and know I’m overreacting and I can’t seem to stop it. Then I feel bad for the way I’m treating people, my people. I often feel overwhelmed, teary or anxious, things I’m not used to feeling, and have no apparent control over. I understand that my chaotic emotions and my outbursts are not fun to live with and I am so, so sorry. This isn’t me, at least I hope it’s not. I started to feel like there was something wrong with me, I felt like no one would understand.


Until recently I’d put it all down to the lack of sleep, however, after blood tests ruled out anything else, it looks like this is the start of the next phase of life. Perimenopause - my second puberty. My daughter is getting her hormones, and I’m losing mine and losing my shit with it.


My body doesn’t feel like mine, my boobs hurt, my hips, knees and elbows ache. My usually relatively flat stomach now has an extra layer of warmth and I have more rounded edges. My body which is used to exercise is responding differently, my muscles take longer to recover, mainly due to the lack of restorative sleep it requires to rebuild and repair and so for now I’ve put a stop to anything remotely strenuous. For now I’ll get my exercise endorphins from walking and from the joy I get from helping others exercise.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there are days when I feel completely normal and couldn’t be happier. Days when I have the energy and motivation to workout, to be fun mum and play with the kids, to make an effort with dinner or baking, or get some study in. Days when I have patience and understanding and can react to situations without heightened emotions and unnecessary drama! And I'm clearly not far into this journey as I still have the hot flushes to look forward to...


I try to laugh at myself most of the time, I post memes and encourage perimenopause banter because it makes it easier. I’m trying to make light of the situation that controls my body and mind right now, and trying to open up conversation on what appears to be relatively unspoken of.


No one knows how long this phase will last, what trips it’ll take them on, or when they will feel like themselves again. But we should all know that we are not alone, every woman goes through this and if we talk more about it, perhaps the stigma will drop and people will feel less alone. I know I’m not alone, I’m lucky to have an awesome family who, for all my raging hormones, rants and tears, appear to forgive me and love me. I’m still your wife, your mum and your biggest and most loyal supporter, I’m just not feeling myself right now, I’m a bit lost and trying to find my way and I thank you for your hugs and for holding my hand.


I will survive this part of my life, because I have no other choice. I just might not be the Jenny you are used to, but I’ll be back. I hope this helps you to understand the current version of me better.


Perhaps this will help a man understand where his wife is coming from, or help another woman know she’s not alone, ultimately I hope it helps whoever needs to hear it. I know writing this has helped me, it’s put a few things into perspective and I know that this will pass, let’s just hope it’s in a couple of years and not 10!


Health & Happiness (with a side of crazy lady)

Jenny

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