Okay, I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: Autism and Menopause! Where’s the fun in that?!
But bear with me… If you’re a geeky-nerdy type like me, learning all about the inner workings of one of the most misunderstood situations on the planet and figuring out how to work effectively with it to make your life that much better is an appealing prospect.
The thing is, you’re not alone.
Every seven seconds, one of America’s 76 million baby boomers turns 50.
Every day, about 5,000 American women enter menopause.
Until 2020, approximately 2 million women will reach menopause each year. Half of all post-menopausal women will be in Asia.
That’s a lot of us — and since I’m a woman, and I’ve gone through menopause myself (10 years “ahead of schedule”, thank heavens!) — I’ve got a few things to say about this.
Especially since it really affected — and was affected by — my autistic temperament.
It really, truly did. And if I’d know certain things ahead of time, I might have handled things very differently. And my experience might not have been so awful.
The thing that always amazes me about the social conversations we do / don’t have about menopause, is that it’s incredibly common and perfectly natural. And yet, it’s treated like some dread condition that needs to be either ignored completely or eradicated with some combination of meds. Hm. Sounds a bit like autism, to me, actually. So, we autistic women get a “two-for-one deal” on our situation. We get double the excitement, but nowhere near twice the support.
We’re lucky if we get any support at all.
I know I didn’t. At least, not much. My partner went through menopause before me, so I had an up-close-and-personal chance to see how it affects others. Panic attacks. Wild mood swings. Intense anxiety. Explosions! Not much to look forward to, right? But I also have to consider that her situation was unique — she was going through major changes around her parents passing away, family dramas, work problems, and so forth. I didn’t have those, when I was going through the Change. I had my own set of issues — Autism being front-and-center.
So, for me, the experience was different. But equally intense.
Oh, if I’d known then what I know now… I can honestly and truly say that I would have handled things very differently.
What’s done is done, and I can’t change my own situation. But I can certainly speak up about my experience, in hopes of other Autistic women benefiting from my experience. Like Autism, every woman’s experience of menopause is different. That goes without saying. But the qualities of our experiences (outside the specific details) can be very similar, and that’s where I want to focus.
Because heaven knows we need support. It’s challenging enough dealing with the world when you’re Autistic or menopausal. But when you’re both… woo hoo!
Oddly (or perhaps predictably) the mainstream hasn’t devoted a whole lot of resources to exploring this intersection of issues. Older women — especially Autistic women — don’t seem to be high on anybody’s list of priorities. Much more interesting to study Autistic children, teenage boys, or grown men. There’s more money in that, quite frankly. But where the mainstream fails, we can step up and help ourselves. There’s this thing called the internet, and it’s chock full of all kinds of goodies that we can mix-n-match and augment ourselves, to serve our own needs.
‘Cause who knows our needs better than we? Not a soul.
So, here goes… I’ll be posting more in the coming days and weeks. I’ll also be publishing additional tools and information over at Auptima Press, especially in conjunction with menopause support resources we’re developing over there.
I can either curse the darkness surrounding women + Autism + menopause… or I can light a candle. I’d much rather do something about it.
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