No woman wants to think about middle age. More comes with it than a shift in clothing styles and comfy, less-stylish footwear. The accoutrements are irritating, unfashionable and less than sexy. Once a female is over forty, how does she keep the music playing, stop the body from sagging, and remain levelheaded?
When I was in my thirties, I didn’t think about aging or dealing with the less than desirable symptoms that were to come. I read about all of it, but it seemed so far away for me. Then suddenly, as I was approaching the big 40, what was once an article in Self Magazine was now a reality.
Silly me, I was excited about all of it. Hearing phrases like 40 is the new 20, and the forties are way better than the thirties, gave me a warped impression of what was coming in the next decade. Who makes these statements? And furthermore, what information is available to back up the older is better claims?
Now that I am in my mid-forties, I have to come to terms with what’s happening. My hair is grayer. I don’t have as much energy, and headaches are part of a daily ritual like putting on mascara. And where did my memory go? Honestly, I can’t remember. My 73-year-old mother has a better recall system than I do.
Hot and cold flashes are here, and insomnia is a regular word in my vocabulary. I used to be able to eat anything, and I can’t anymore. Garlic wreaks havoc on my stomach if I mention the word. Each year over the number brings new surprises, and these aren’t the kind I find under the Christmas tree. Menopause is no sweet subject, and to most women, it’s a dreadful word. I remember my mother referring to it as “the change”. Where did that come from? For years, I questioned the meaning and the symptoms. Now, I get it.
As a young girl, I couldn’t imagine living until 50, and recently I started get daily emails from AARP reminding me it’s right around the corner. Aren’t they rushing it a bit? Surely, they don’t want me to miss out on the super discounts, but I have almost five years to go! Let me enjoy what little I can of the forties. Please.
Other than saying goodbye to visits from Aunt Flo each month, is there anything positive about middle age? Some will say knowledge, experience, self-confidence, and security are attributes at the top of the list. Are these enough to make up for the maddening symptoms that plague thousands of women for years of their lives? I think not.
My last gynecologist told me I was too young to be in perimenopause. I was 42, and it was a female doctor. Premenopausal years can begin in the thirties. I’ve done my research, and it’s different for every female, similar to childbirth. Some ladies have a 2-hour labor and the baby jumps out of the womb tap dancing; others struggle for several days with mild contractions before moving into painful labor that can last for hours and hours. Who is a doctor to judge or forecast what my body will do, or when my female reproductive organs are ready to retire? Menopause knows no age, race, height, weight, or religious background. When it starts happening, there’s no stopping it. Obviously, I no longer have a relationship with that doctor.
About a month ago, I was feeling horrible every day. I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize who saw. I had every possible symptom required to be heading into full-blown meno. I was at my wit’s end, and my poor husband didn’t know what to say, do, or think. I had to take my menopause into my own hands.
I marched to Whole Foods and picked up a box of what I now refer to as lady pills, and within a few days of popping, I started to feel like my old self. These little miracles contain herbs like valerian and hops for relaxation, black cohosh for night sweats and mood swings, chasteberry for menstrual symptoms, and rhodiola for concentration and mental alertness. With a morning and evening formula, I down two per day, and as long as I don’t confuse the morning dose with night, I feel like a different person. I sleep after dark, and the night sweats are gone baby gone.
Any woman who is anti-HRT should give natural remedies a shot. They’re hormone-free and provide relief from those agonizing symptoms that become almost embarrassing. No girl should have to suffer, or feel like less of a woman than she is. Sometimes it helps knowing that others are in the same mid-life boat, sailing along, but occasionally hitting rough waters. Ladies need to listen to and support one another, and not jump ship. Only we can understand what our bodies and minds are experiencing. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it; there’s nothing shameful about getting older.
A few weeks ago, I felt my age. Today, forty-five is feeling younger than ever. If only I could invent a cure for the gray hairs, I would remain eternally young. Forty and fabulous won’t be a myth any longer for me, and it shouldn’t be for other women either.