It’s a Process…

woman with painted faceThe Meh-nopausal action continues… And while it might not seem all that exciting, just you wait… 😉

Over at Auptima Press, we’re talking about the whole process, especially starting with perimenopause (peri- means before… menopause means the ending of menses, the monthly hormonal and tissue recycling that so many of us know and — cough, cough — {don’t} love).

Perimenopause is the natural transition that your body goes through before reaching “official” menopause (which is defined as 12 consecutive months without having a menstrual period). During this process, your hormones begin to fluctuate, and these changes can play a major role in how you function and feel.

So, take note, all you women and men who are affected by women’s cycling… oh, wait, that would be all of us. Perimenopause is a natural transition, meaning it’s what happens as part of the natural course of women’s lives. Certainly, there are many women who have different experiences — some have hysterectomies, some may have been born with a different configuration of organs, some may have medical conditions which cause the change(s) to happen in a variety of ways that stray from the path laid out by OB-Gyn textbooks. But by and large, perimenopause is the rule, rather than the exception for women who live long enough for it to happen.

When I was growing up, precious little was openly discussed about menopause. It was “the change”… something to be whispered about in women-only circles. And the whole perimenopause thing wasn’t talked about at all. In fact, the word “menopause” (and all permutations thereof) was cringeworthy… shrouded in confusion and misinformation and the conviction that it was the last stage before mental and physical decline. Once menopause showed up, your life as a woman was over — according to how I was raised. Once you couldn’t have any more children, your usefulness as a woman was severely diminished, and you stopped being interesting to the rest of the world.

That should tell you a lot about the world I was raised in. And thank heavens things have changed, since then. I mean, just getting the word “perimenopause” out there is a step in the right direction, IMHO. It increases the occurence of “menopause” in popular vocabulary, and it also widens our understanding of the process — because that’s what it is. A process.

And gentlemen, that includes you, too. When I was a kid, men just rolled their eyes and made themselves scarce till “the Change” was over. But you can’t do that anymore. Women are much more integrated into society and the workplace than before, and there’s a lot more distribution of labor on both sides of the gender divide. So, when women cycle around to a state of hormonal WooHoo!-ness, the guys get drawn into it, as well.

Rest assured, as it’s a process, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Sadly — especially for Autistic folks — it’s incredibly difficult to predict with 100% accuracy. One day you’re fine… the next, you’re not. One moment, everything’s cool… the next, you’re mulling over whether to flirt with a 25-to-life felony against your fellow humans. (Note: I know it’s tricky to mention Autism and violent crime in the same paragraph, but talk confidentially to any post-menopausal woman on or off the Spectrum, and you’ll find that our ideation can indeed go to some scary places — which is why it’s so lucky that this happens when we’re old enough to keep ourselves in check and realize that Thoughts Are Not Things.)

But I’ve digressed. This whole female “Change of Life” business is a process. Our hormones fluctuate. There’s no avoiding it. Our moods, behaviors, thinking, bodies… they get churned up on a sort of spin cycle, and it can be quite the roller coaster ride, for as long as it lasts.

So, if you’re headed in that direction, brace yourself. And get educated. Because the combination of (peri)menopause and Autism can be a potent combination that spells distress and anguish for many of us. I know it did for me. But understanding what’s happening (which I didn’t, because nobody explained it to me clearly) can help immensely — if only by dispelling the distress that comes from getting blindsided by your body’s natural changes. And for you guys out there, it can also be comforting to know that the abrupt and jarring changes to women’s demeanor are part of a larger pattern that’s been happening for aeons.

And yet, we’ve survived.

Yep, we’ve survived. Millions of women have gone through this before us. We’re not the first, and we certainly won’t be the last.

So, take heart. If you’re (peri)menopausal, you’re in good company.

11 thoughts on “It’s a Process…

  1. cengelke

    Thank you for this blog series/ topic! I am 49, going through peri-menopause, and while I don’t meet all autism criteria I have “traits”, plus both my firmly autistic kids are going through puberty while I go through it too, so to speak. I homeschool them so it’s a whirlwind of therapy, medications, emotions, from all sides, 24/7. It’s lovely to know there is calm on the other side! Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Inside The Rainbow

    Great post! I just wish my mother had talked to me about the menopause, especially as she had a premature one too. As it was, my menopause coincided with her death and there have been so many times when I’ve wanted to ask her, ‘did you have this too? If so, what did you do about it?’. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      Thank you – yes, menopause seems exquisitely timed to coincide with some pretty big events in our lives. And that doesn’t help matters at all. I wonder sometimes if we’d struggle with it as much, if our situations were less complicated and less pressure-filled.

      I suspect it would help.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting, and timely for me, I think – I’ve definitely hit the perimenopause. I’ve never really thought about the interactions between different things or what causes what. While trying to figure out what it is that makes me autistic (if anything…) I’ve probably ignored other factors. But it is true that the ups and downs are becoming more pronounced, I’ll feel okay for days, maybe a week, then anxiety levels ratchet up again and I’m skirting meltdown territory. I also find that just living your normal life takes up much more energy than it did only a few years ago. Autism or menopause? Or depression? Or all of the above? Difficult to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VisualVox

      In my case, it was definitely a combination of everything. Plus, at that age, a lot of stuff was getting messed up in my life. Parents and other family members dying, job changes, incredible stress, overall. Terrible timing. For me, it was definitely all related — and perimenopause + Autism made it all that much more… impactful.

      I have to wonder why in the world we must have such stressful lives — it seems to be that way by right of some design. Like stress is supposed to be a sign of maturity or whatnot.

      The thing that really took off the pressure for me — and also relieved a lot of my symptoms — was gaining more knowledge about WTH was going on with me, and adjusting accordingly.

      Liked by 1 person

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