How Do You Know If You Are In Menopause? - Women's Foundation California

By guest blogger Celia Bernstein, Director of Development at the Westside Family Health Center

Question: How do you know if you are in Menopause?

Answer: You’ll just know.

As in “you will just know” when you go into labor or when your daughter begins her adolescence.

You’ll know it when you are in it and not a moment before.

My onset of menopause seemed sudden. The caretaker part of me, which had always defined me up until then, suddenly disappeared—like a safety net being removed.

The safety net of relying on this trait to carry me through all my relationships and insulate me from the stigma of saying no disappeared. And in place of understanding, empathy, jumping up first to take care of something for someone, my reaction became “get the %$^%&* thing yourself.”

Yes — my nice pleasantly outward Florence Nightingale-ish demeanor was replaced by a loud swearing angry renegade—think Calamity Jane in Deadwood.  All that was missing were the guns.

I barely recognized myself. “Who the hell is this? What happened to the old me? I want the old me to come back now.” But the old me had fled for the hills cackling as she went.

The new me’s answer to “What’s for dinner” was now “I don’t know, what IS for dinner?”–complete with ironic eye rolling and dramatic exasperation. “Why the hell are you asking me?”  Same thing with “where are my socks?” It was as if my husband and daughter had never asked me these questions a thousand times before.  After the first several electric shocks of this type of reply were administered, the poor dears rarely asked again.

I started to think of myself as a fire breathing dragon. At first it was the strangest experience to open my mouth and where pearls of wisdom and balm used to be, eviscerating flames would emanate. Finally though,  I got used to it—and even kind of began to like and then prefer the new me.

Menopause—you know when you are in it. Everything looks different from the inside out and I am sure also looks different from the outside.  I am freer to be myself—all my excuses are gone.

I am free to be myself- finally- and I can choose to be a caretaker or not—it is not something expected and taken for granted anymore.

And when I do make dinner or happen to find the socks (and only if I $%^&* feel like it), my husband and daughter are a lot more grateful for it.

Please come to a meeting of Fire Breathing Dragons and Fire Breathing Dragon wannabes on Wednesday, May 18 from 12-1:30 PM as part of Westside Family Health Center’s Lunch & Learn series on the subject “You’re Not Crazy, It’s Just Menopause”. Download the event flyer for more information and to RSVP.

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