Our moms called perimenopause and menopause the “change of life” This is perhaps ultimately a more poetic and evocative description of the possibility of this experience than we generally give it credit for. Menopause is a the final physical transition in women’s reproductive lives.
As a psychologist as opposed to a medical doctor, I don’t propose to talk authoritatively about the rise and fall of the hormones within our bodies. As girls we make different decisions regarding our willingness to endure the physical symptoms; the hot flashes, disturbed sleep and undependable memory being one of the very most prominent. We may even decide to chemically postpone the beginning of the experience entirely by taking hormone supplements.
For those people who opt to endure the procedure more or less obviously however, it’s worth noting that perimenopause and menopause are strong and universal psychological experiences rather than just physical ones. As smoking lowers our inhibitions and makes us more socially bold, the hormonal changes as well as the sleep deprivation brought on by interrupted nights, de-stabilize our feelings.
As our moods swing in broader arcs we might dip into deeper stratums of emotional self which we’ve rarely permitted ourselves to see. We may meet part of self that recognizes and won’t deny or accept the frustrations, injustices, limitations big and small that we’ve accepted and endured as a member of the roles of spouse, mother or worker. When these feelings are unacceptable to ourselves or too frightening, we might psychologically crash.
We may attempt to numb ourselves with food, alcohol, prescription mood regulators, or divert ourselves with exercise, or substance consumption. All these are emotional and mental responses. They’re facilitated by the hormonally driven sensitivities, but they’re not made by them. Women typically live much longer now than women in previous ages. While we often delay child bearing, have less kids and see them reliably survive and flourish, a lot of the female life span still follows the identical ancient patterns of our ancestors.
The 1 thing that has truly changed in the lives of girls is that we live to grow old and we aren’t yet “older” at menopause. Menopause brings an end to reproductive life. Since nature abhors a vacuum, queries and individual needs that which have been masked by the noisy traffic of family life start to raise themselves into prominence.
Questions arise that have been maybe put aside without complete answers so as to take care of the practical, daily demands of autonomous adult life, career and parenting. When we refuse to answer them we might feel depressed and anxious because we’re hiding from the challenge of defining our own self-hood. That’s why emotional work is indicated and useful. Perimenopause and menopause are indications of a transition stage in life and as such deserve to be approached thoughtfully.
It’s often very helpful at this juncture to reflect on life lived and to take stock of emotional needs, desires and resources as one enters, what we can now expect to be,”the second half” of mature life. Anxiety and depression at menopause can play a saving part in our life. They are the emotional discomforts which might drive us to search for psychological solutions. They interfere with the habitual patterns of our own life and might even arise helpfully from our unconscious to prevent us forcefully from going any farther down well-trodden but ultimately unsatisfying or deadening avenues of life. They ask us to research our mature experience and reconnect with parts of ourselves which we’ve set aside. They push us to hook up ourselves to quite personal desires and personal goals which will guide our growth in the next several years.
The resulting changes are often experienced as an exhilarating and expansive blossoming of a new awareness of self. We would perhaps be smart to answer their telephone.
Note: Extreme and debilitating or long-term depression or anxiety may have physical underpinnings that aren’t only the hormonal fluctuations of menopause. Severe symptoms should always be reported to a medical doctor to rule out harmful physical causes.