What Menopause Feels Like
February 19, 2021 11:00 AM   Subscribe

About half of the world's population will experience menopause, yet it's a period that can be isolating for a woman in their personal and professional life. Menopause marks the end of menstruation, and the changes that come with it are often not discussed openly. Short documentary (11 min) by Bronwen Parker-Rhodes.
posted by severiina (45 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
I really liked this documentary, thank you for posting it. I’m in perimenopause and it’s been challenging for me. I appreciated hearing the interviewees’ candid thoughts on the process.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:39 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Thank you for sharing, this was really lovely. I'm 48, I've been edging closer to menopause for a few years now, and no one in my life does say much about it.

My one real guideline, of all things, has been an Alison Bechdel cartoon that talked about perimenopause. "I never used to get like this--spacey, crabby, can't sleep" has been a touchstone and a comfort. It also pointed out that perimenopause can last for 10 years, so it's given me a bit of a time frame--except I can't remember when that actually started anymore.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:40 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Thank you for this. I'm currently (checks period tracker app) 145 days into "is this menopause?" It's reassuring to hear that many of the things I've been dealing with and wondering "is am I finally completely losing it?" are common experiences.

For anyone for whom this is relevant, there's both anecdotal and research evidence (unfortunately, as usual, most of the research is conducted by and written about by non-autistic people) that AFAB autistic people often have difficulty as we approach our 50s/menopause. A couple of articles that center autistic perspective:
Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network: Menopause: Just When You Felt Less Socially Awkward
Autism [one of the better research journals, IMO]: ‘When my autism broke’: A qualitative study spotlighting autistic voices on menopause
Judy Endow on the Interplay Between Autistic Burnout and Aging
posted by Lexica at 11:42 AM on February 19 [15 favorites]

That was wonderful.
posted by roolya_boolya at 11:45 AM on February 19

I'd love it if anyone has more resources on perimenopause I could study a bit.
posted by aesop at 12:00 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I'm looking forward to Menopause Manifesto, by Dr. Jen Gunter.
posted by Mavri at 12:15 PM on February 19 [7 favorites]

When I first got periods I remember being told someday they'd stop and thinking"Thank goodness!" And then everything I read was so fucking negative...it sucks! You go crazy! You get fatter and ugly!

And so I tried to think about it as little as possible.

I would really like narratives that don't lie about the downsides but also offer helpful ideas and hope and treat it as difficult but not the end of all good things. I would like that a lot.
posted by emjaybee at 12:39 PM on February 19 [20 favorites]

My partner would say things like "flame on" as she hastily removed a jacket or cardigan.. Even after months of countless episodes of intense hot flashes I think it would hit her at a bad moment and just be excruciatingly uncomfortable and annoying.. I can only compare to how I sometimes lose it when I stub my toe or bite my tongue eating, this flash of completely irrational and intense anger with my body for being so.. stupid?

I also saw a co-worker, right in front of me, go through one of the most dramatic hot flashes.. zero to 60 and she was frantically removing a light jacket, her face a deep red, perspiration breaking out. Men have no idea, we can only witness and imagine.
posted by elkevelvet at 1:13 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

I'm with emjaybee -- I could only watch about 3 minutes of that because it was hitting too close to home, and I'm already feeling down about my changing body as it is.
posted by JanetLand at 1:17 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed that. We should talk about it more. No one should be taken by surprise when these changes happen and no one should feel alone or ashamed.

My periods have become really erratic. I last had one in October. Every time I hope it's the last one.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:45 PM on February 19 [9 favorites]

Oh that RAGE! I had to remove myself from polite company more than once!!! And it's exhausting.
posted by manageyourexpectations at 2:01 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]

I don't know if I can specifically recommend having your peri really go into its final descent just before the 2016 elections, but at least I had something external to point the rage at.

I don't want to minimize the sometimes serious physical and mental aspects, or the grief some people experience with regard to fertility or femininity or aging or mortality, because those are a) real b) hard c) important to recognize and process and/or treat, if necessary. And some people do experience some persistent symptoms, particularly the ones that wreck your sleep and make the whole process consistently worse.

But almost all of it passes. The worst of it is temporary. It gets better.

For most people, it's an intermittent series of shifting issues and conditions, most of which resolve well before the actual process is complete. It's not generally a 3-year-long hot flash or uninterrupted rage (well...see above re: election).

And, at least among my peers who tend to skew feminist and fed up, there's been a TON of gratitude that it's over and relief for the complete lack of fucks left and the exemption from expectations and, hell, the invisibility may have a sharp edge on one side but the other side is glorious. Plus, for anyone who's spent 30+ years with endometriosis, brutal periods, serious mood dysregulation, digestive disruption, monthly (or whatever) total life alteration that had to be anticipated and accommodated and equipped - it's freedom.

I am on board with the end of this video where all the subjects conclude that your life does not end at menopause, and that it is the birth of a new identity, that there is way more life to live on the other side. They're all laughing about it. Yeah, so you're getting older and your metabolism's a bit shit and you will likely be at an age that health stuff begins to loom larger for yourself and the people around you. It is a little frustrating that some of your shit doesn't work as well as it used to (including your actual shit). But you may find you wouldn't actually trade any of those things for some of the woes of your younger menstruating life, either.

I'm convinced that my generation and at least the one right behind us were sold a very specific dire, grim bill of goods about menopause that is in many ways bullshit and was I'm pretty sure mostly created by men for the purpose of men remaining in charge of everything, but also perpetuated by women for a lot of complicated reasons. They took a bit of truth and inflated it into the whole story. Getting old sucks in some ways, but that's been true for 20+ years of your life already, menopause has only a little to do with it. Getting old is also fantastic in some ways, and that has also been true all your life, and it will continue to be true. You haven't been disqualified.

If you are a person who's getting up around that time or think you're hitting symptoms even if it's "early": talk to your friends about it; make it a thing that gets talked about. Talk to your GYN and if they suck try someone else or Planned Parenthood or (ugh) a geriatrician. Do read Jen Gunther's book when it comes out. Do seek treatment for any symptom that's making your life difficult, do take care of your mental health, do reach out for support if you find the change of identity is hitting some rocky terrain for you. Everyone I know in the zone has hit some tough spots re-contextualizing some childhood and young-adult experiences through a much more experienced lens. A lot of us have had some stuff and regret and reckoning around gender and sexual orientation and what we know now versus what we thought we knew when we were younger. I don't know that menopause is the single reason for that, but it's part of it for sure.

I can't tell anyone else what is specifically celebrate-able for them, but there will be those things too and it is actually okay to celebrate them even if it makes the culture mad.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:04 PM on February 19 [29 favorites]

For those who find the beginning bit too depressing. There are some positive aspects of menopause and life after menopause described closer to the end of the document.
posted by severiina at 2:13 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

me: It's reassuring to hear that many of the things I've been dealing with and wondering "is am I finally completely losing it?" are common experiences.

:facepalm: Oh FFS. Yeah, so.

Also, I got this mini USB-rechargeable fan after seeing Kpop stars using similar ones and it's made the hot flashes easier to deal with. I've got it clipped to the headboard of the bed so I can turn it on when I wake up in the middle of the night due to a hot flash, and it's so much better than without it.
posted by Lexica at 2:21 PM on February 19 [9 favorites]

Great video.

I hit menopause at 42. I had an ablation and my tubes tied at 40, so since I no longer had periods anyway, I didn't have a lack of periods as a trigger to tell me that was what was happening. I only figured it out because I stopped sleeping almost entirely. I would sleep for 30-45 minutes then wake up obsessively worrying about something and be unable to get back to sleep. I saw my doctor and he diagnosed me with menopausal sleeplessness, a thing I had not known existed, and put me on a low dose of Zoloft, and I went back to sleeping normally. I stopped taking the Zoloft in March last year - my hormones had evened out such that my doctor thought I could chance it - and then of course the pandemic happened so it's impossible to know if my occasional trouble sleeping now is related to menopause or just pandemic anxiety. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Whenever menopause comes up, I always tell people about the sleeplessness, because apparently it's a reasonably common symptom that nobody tells us about. (Including this video, unless I missed it.)

My experience has been maybe 70/30 positive/negative. I don't enjoy not sleeping or gaining weight or getting acne again, but the freedom of Giving No Fucks is GLORIOUS. I am much more outspoken, and in the context of work I often don't even really realize that I am speaking up inappropriately (according to how I would have thought of it 10 years ago) - because I am in a pink-collar support position as an admin assistant, I have long accepted that it's my job to carry out the vision of those above me, and I am much more collaborative about my role now simply because I forget that I am not supposed to have opinions. The woman who says, "it's like owning yourself" - YES. I have power that I didn't used to have, or I have claimed power that I always had but didn't use.

With that in mind, it's amazing one of the interviewees has a poster that says WORK HARD & BE NICE TO PEOPLE. Hahahaha, maybe if yer lucky.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:58 PM on February 19 [7 favorites]

Just to add to severiina’s comment, if you stopped watching partway through because of the negative descriptions, the last part of the video is quite positive. I felt heartened by it, actually. Especially by the way most of the women talked about being comfortable in their bodies—and emotionally stronger and more confident.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:00 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]

I have been through menopause and survived. I had a really crummy start to my periods and they never got any better: heavy, unpredictable, PMS that made me suicidal on occasion, etc. etc. When my periods stopped a number of years ago, it was wonderful. I was lucky enough to only have mild symptoms that were over with quickly. I am really happy to have have made the transition. Are there downsides? Sure, slower metabolism and some loss of bladder control (very minor) is the worst of it. I will take that any day.
posted by agatha_magatha at 3:04 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Omg thank you so much for posting this! I turn 53 next month, still getting my increasingly unpredictable period. Im mostly having any easy time but still feel like so much of whats in front of me is this vast mystery. Its delightful to see these women sharing their joys and concerns and troubles.
posted by supermedusa at 3:52 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

I went through menopause a few years ago at 48 and to my great surprise and happiness it was kind of a nonevent. I had a few hot flashes but they were no big deal. My periods had gotten very very light a few years prior and my gyn put me on progesterone to support my cycle (I'm a fat lady, she was worried that the estrogen/progesterone balance was off and could be problematic.) Eventually my period just stopped. At my next appointment she did some bloodwork and voila, I had graduated.

I had been bracing for the horror stories and they never came. My friends who have been in the thick of the struggle for a long time giving me the stink eye about this. I wish there were a way to get the news out that it may or may not be rough, without sounding like bragging or stepping on peoples' toes. I kinda think it's out of your hands the way that childbirth is--might be an easy delivery, might be really hard, no matter what you do to prepare the only thing you can do is play the hand you're dealt.
posted by Sublimity at 4:48 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]

A friend had a really horrible time with hot flashes waking her up every hour or so. She couldn't get a full night's sleep for over a year and felt like she was losing it because, well, who wouldn't? She begged doctors for help but they shrugged and told her that's just kind of how it is.

I am kind of dreading the process of menopause and what lies beyond. No matter how true it is, I'm not ready to accept the message that even though the road can be rough the destination is neither good nor bad, just different. I won't miss menstruating, but I really, really do not want my sexuality or physicality or metabolism to change, and my brain is foggier than I'd like as is. I should probably take some time over the next few years to come to terms with the fact that aging is the best case scenario.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:12 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I just had to take blood clotting medication to stop my period thanks to menopause. Even then, that fecker did not want to stop. Before that it was terrible hot flashes that always hit when I was teaching. I am not anxious to know what the hell else my body has ready to throw at me before I get out the other end.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:23 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I'm 52 and I've been on a 90 day birth control for years to prevent migraines. At this point, I think I haven't had a period for 3 or 4 years. It's been amazing! (I take the pill year-round and skip the low dose weeks. My doc didn't recommend it but wasn't terribly persuasive.)

From 2016 until 2020 or so I was having hot flashes combined with other symptoms I thought might be menopause but equally well could've been incandescent rage at the Trump regime combined with overwhelming grief at my father's long wasting illness. My dad died one year ago today, and strangely although I've had plenty of pandemic related anxiety and bad feelings, the hot flashes and rage and anxiety attacks and memory problems have been much better.

At my last visit, my doctor suggested I stop taking the pill so we can even out my hormones to see where I am with menopause but I was like, "nah, I'm good, thanks." I'm going to stick with the no bleeding, no migraine phase as long as possible.
posted by See you tomorrow, saguaro at 5:28 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]

I’m in the middle of it, and the recent arrival of very frequent hot flashes in the day time has been... interesting. At least since I’ve been working from home due to the bastard virus, which makes it easier to cope with suddenly feeling overheated enough to burst into flames. I have always felt the cold and worn lots of cosy jumpers, thick socks etc but they are way too risky now. I have the heating turned way down, thinner clothes, and have throws and blankets instead since they can be almost instantly thrown off when the tide of heat starts to wash over me.

Overall, it’s almost entirely a terrible experience but some benefits - I always had very oily skin and breakouts particularly pre each period. Menopause has led to the best clearest skin I’ve had since I was a child. Also less hair washing required. I don’t miss the horrendously painful periods much either.

When I first realised I was peri menopausal, I definitely went through a difficult time coming to terms with aging etc. At this point I’ve accepted it and just desperately want it over with. But it is difficult to deal with this potentially continuing for years and years with no clear progression or pattern and you just have to keep enduring it.
posted by ElasticParrot at 6:49 PM on February 19

In a previous thread, I posted a (different) link to this comedy bit from Baroness von Sketch but it was only viewable in Canada--I'm hoping this link works everywhere. When I saw it I laughed like a hyena and sent it to all my perimenopause-aged friends and relatives:


I like it because it just captures the feeling of "...???" because many of us didn't get told much if anything about perimenopause. So I started having a bunch of symptoms--hot flashes, very very heavy periods, insomnia, forgetfulness--and then slowly I was like, "It's not perimenopause. Is it??"

Also, that conversation with the doctor at the end, yeah that's pretty much how mine reacted when I asked him if my incredibly heavy periods could be perimenopause. He was like, oh I don't know. Aren't you too young for that? I was like, I'm 45, dude. Get with it. Didn't you go to med school?
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:26 PM on February 19 [12 favorites]

Like Sublimity, my perimenopause was pretty mild, so you are not alone!

Looking back from the other side however it does seem like I lost my mind a little bit. I can only remember one definite hot flash, but otherwise I had a general inability to regulate my body temperature, so actually I was really cold a lot of the time. My mother had a hysterectomy in her late 20s, so she had no idea what to tell me to expect.

And hey, it's a dream not having to worry about my period.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:36 PM on February 19 [5 favorites]

Great video, thanks for sharing. It's great to see real women sharing a range of experiences, since we tend to hear only the extreme stories.

And that "not giving a crap" bit mentioned towards the end is a feature not a bug.
posted by rpfields at 8:54 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]

Hmmmmm. My experience is that once you look to be/are a "woman of a certain age" menopause is one of the main things other women want to talk about. Maybe it's some perverse trick of the universe, where people who want to talk about it just keep running into people like me who couldn't be less interested in talking about it. I don't know but I am at least one person who just doesn't feel the need to share and be shared with on the subject.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:41 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]

I keep posting things like this in menopause threads so that people can keep in mind that not everyone is inwardly wishing they could share their menopause journey.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:45 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]

This video came out at a welcome time for me a few months back. I am on the other side of perimenopause now, actually in the scientifically defined menopause category. Important to note that "menopause" is the steady state that you are in after perimenopause, and that most of the physical and emotional struggles we associate with this passage are actually part of perimenopause.

Mine was pretty miserable and symptoms lasted maybe 3 years end to end? Maybe more? Starting with crazy heavy periods at first, but moving to more emotional/psychological expression over time. Yeah, no fun to go through during the 45 years, for sure. So much seething anger, irritability, energy highs and lows. I had hot flashes, and they are weird and annoying, but mine didn't seem to be as dramatic as some people's are. I definitely had unpredictable jags of sadness and tears. On the whole, it was a rocky time. I got some help through it, as yes, it tends to bring up (or coincide with) a lot of other reckonings that occur in midlife that have you re-processing childhood, adult choices, and general personhood. So on the whole I felt like it was a lot of work. BUt it was very important to holding on to my sanity to read accounts of perimenopause and understand that there were reasons for it all, that my experiences were not unique or personal to me or caused by failings of mine, and that most importantly, it would pass.

Here are some of the readings I enjoyed or found helpful:
Caitlin Moran on how the reproductive years are kind of a "drug high" of hormones, framing the perimenopause experience as one of withdrawal. Makes complete sense to me. Like the women in the video and like Moran, menopause has given me the oddest sense of waking up and coming back to myself - a self I have not experienced since my preteen years. I feel like me in a profound way that I didn't really have access to for most of my adult years. If you hit a paywall here is the text on Facebook.

The Bitch is Back, by Sandra Tsing Loh. I think she eventually wrote a book on her experience.

Ada Calhoun, The New Midlife Crisis (I also really enjoyed her book Why We Can't Sleep)

The Messages I Got About Menopause Were Very Wrong, by Darcy Steinke

I'm aware that many of the pieces that resonate with me tend to be by white straight middle-class AFAB women, a category I'm in as well. I've read a few things noting that menopause/perimenopause are experienced and interpreted differently from within different identities, but am not sure who is writing from those perspectives and would welcome some of that discussion too.
posted by Miko at 7:12 AM on February 20 [10 favorites]

I am angry at the way that in our formative years, for those of us experiencing it now, menopause was treated as nothing more than a joke in the popular media. Couple that with the trope that women's libido and sexuality gets better/stronger in middle age, and it's disconcerting when the opposite happens. It's been kind of weird hitting the end of perimenopause during the pandemic--kind of stopped having periods about the same time I stopped being able to socialize in person with friends/family. My perimenopause symptoms weren't too unbearable, but I had no idea about the brain fog thing until I started taking the time to read more about it. It has really impacted my typing skills (omitting words, accidentally spelling things phonetically, etc.) which is problematic in my line of work.

The part about getting back in touch with your pre-estrogen self was really, really resonant though, and I've never heard anyone talk about that. I don't believe I'm trans/agender/gender-fluid/nonbinary--I don't have any problem being considered female--I just have, in the past few years, increasingly lost interest in performing femininity, and I feel like that does loop back to my "tomboy" identity as a child in ways I've been aware during this time of but hadn't specifically connected to hormonal shifts.
posted by drlith at 7:47 AM on February 20 [21 favorites]

To continue briefly with one more thought, even just the lack of precision in terminology is aggravating. I am, to this day, not sure how much of what gets talked about as "menopause" symptoms are actually perimenopause shit. Now that I'm ACTUALLY hitting menopause (I think my LMP was last May?), are the classic quote-unquote menopause symptoms going to get worse/come back? E.g., I had a fairly brief period of hot flashes starting about 2 years ago that only lasted about 6 months, and I think my insomnia was at its worst through that phase. Or does hitting formal menopause generally mean that the menopause symptoms are actually mostly done with, just like the periods?
posted by drlith at 7:59 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]

Or does hitting formal menopause generally mean that the menopause symptoms are actually mostly done with, just like the periods?

I've been medically in menopause for five years and I still get hot flashes, although they are less regular/frequent.

The clip with the woman describing a perimenopausal flood in the shower was vivid and brutal. I had terrible flooding when I was in perimenopause, about 7-8 years ago. I thought I was hemorrhaging. They don't warn us about this!

One of the consequences of being in menopause is that I have no tolerance for the now-common structure of commercial bedding: the sheet+duvet combo. I need light layers so I can adjust my temperature at night! Where are all the lightweight cotton blankets in hotel rooms?

When I went to spend a few months with my brother's family in July, I actually brought a small fan with me, and a cotton blanket, because I knew my SIL did the only-a-duvet thing on all their beds.
posted by suelac at 11:57 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]

One of the many revelations that I had after being diagnosed with ADHD at 41 was that my pms symptoms (the mental ones) were my ADHD symptoms in overdrive. Inability to regulate emotions -- check. Can't concentrate -- well I'm normally an avid reader but with pms I can be reading a page-turner that I couldn't put down the week before and now I'm reading the same sentence over and over again because I keep getting distracted by my own thoughts mid-sentence. Forgetfulness -- yep. That restlessness coupled with boredom that comes from having things you really really want to do but not being able to actually be bothered to .. do.. any of them. Did I mention inability to regulate emotions?

And reading up on it I learned that dopamine levels are linked to estrogen levels, so it's common for people with ADHD to bump their meds dosage on the days when they have pms. And I do that, and it helps.

I've heard both that some practitioners are asking whether it might be helpful try ADHD meds in women going through menopause, and I've also heard that there's woefully little research on women + hormones + aging + mental health so it's not clear if that's a useful thing to do. I haven't tried to do a literature review, myself, but I am intensely curious about the topic. I really wonder what's in store for me. Will my meds give me a buffer so my symptoms are mild? Or will my ADHD reinforce perimenopausal symptoms and I'm in for a rough ride?
posted by antinomia at 12:50 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

suelac, I had never before connected my hatred of hotel bedding with menopause. You are so right. Jesus.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:51 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

Oh my god, the lightweight blanket layers! I didn't make the connection either - I have two cheap comforters I originally bought for dog blankets but they are in fact so technically shitty - they appear to be stuffed with something the texture of fresh cotton candy - they are exactly perfect for fine-tuning my body temperature.

Because a couple of people wondered about timeline terminology - I had not ever heard the term "perimenopause" until sometime in the 2010, so I think a good bit of nuance was introduced to the subject in the years I didn't particularly need to be thinking about it. The Wikipedia article on menopause (and all the various phases leading up to it) is surprisingly informative.

It is interesting to me about the ADHD. I have been assuming that the past 2ish years was when I finally stopped being able to (mostly) compensate for what rings almost every bell on the ADHD-Inattentive In Women checklist, but now I don't know how much to attribute to menopause rather than current events trauma and long-undiagnosed ADHD. When I'm able I still intend to get assessed.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:21 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

Been in full on menopause for 4 years now. My last period was while camping on a glacier (that was fun/not). I still have lots of hot flashes - esp at night - it's covers on, covers off all damn night. And I'm often cold otherwise. Better skin, less body hair (not talking about my chin, nope) but more weight around my middle. And the rage + not giving a fuck. Of course the rage has coincided with the Trump years but year. I went to grad school in the middle of this and nothing like the fun of fanning oneself and shedding layers in the middle of a seminar when everyone except the prof is 20-30 years younger. I definitely carry a portable usb fan for those times. I talked about what was going on to my classmates since I decline to be one of those women ruled by shame for normal bodily stuff but am grateful my flooding stuff happened at home! Most of this is fine but I'm very sick of the no-sleep, soaking bit so clearly time to talk to my doctor about it.
posted by leslies at 2:48 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

Just seeing this now and THANK YOU for this conversation. I'm 49, and supposedly at prime perimenopause age, but it's so hard to tell. I talked with my gyn last month and he rattled off dry skin (uh, it's winter), weight gain (or is it quarantine stress-eating), period changes (had a hysterectomy years ago), concentration/memory issues (but stress causes this, too), and so forth. All of the symptoms are there for me, but they can be explained by other things, so I don't know what to believe. Even still, the video resonated deeply with me, as it's very likely all my weird things are connected. And it's nice to know I'm not alone, seeing so many other Gen-X girls facing it bravely.
posted by jhope71 at 8:01 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

my pms symptoms (the mental ones) were my ADHD symptoms in overdrive
I finally stopped being able to (mostly) compensate for what rings almost every bell on the ADHD-Inattentive In Women checklist

Perimenopause is how come I got diagnosed with ADHD, at 51. That (unrealised!) + work stress and I .. Was Not Coping. Doc tried to give me antidepressants, and while I am not anti-medication that didn't seem right - I was pretty sure I wasn't actually depressed. Nobody had the least idea what was wrong with me - I was just sure that *something* was. Thanks Tumblr for signposts - turns out it was ADHD and getting medication for THAT has been a life changer, especially during the change of life. Heh.

For what it's worth I think I started to get perimenopause symptoms around 44-45. It's taken a long long time for me. I just turned 53 and I *think* I'm done with it.

Check on the weird grieving. I have never wanted kids, do not have any, am many times confirmed that I made the correct choices for me, but still.

Check on the broken internal thermostat. It's never been all that great, but now swings wildly and for no apparent reason. I think I had more "Oh I'm going to be really hot now? OK /sigh" (and still do) than actual hot flashes. I have to wear things that can be easily undone for cooling & done up again to the chin for the "Annnnd now I'mma freeze to death" that follows. I no longer sweat buckets during these hot .. surges ... though.

Bedding likewise. I have three duvets on my bed - a 3 tog, a 7 tog and a 15 tog down monster. They may all see use in any given night. This does not depend on the weather.

Never got the period thing as I've had implants for over a decade and been one of the lucky ones where it stops them altogether. This has however made it tricky to figure out ... am I done? The doc claims blood tests aren't terribly helpful until you're way out the other side. It doesn't really matter to me to pinpoint a time, anyway.

Check on metabolism change, skin changes - oh god the skin changes. I've never had dry skin and I don't now - it's not dryness - it's a complete texture change. I have old-lady crepe skin appearing, and alas - a wattle. /strokes chin. OH and surprise CHIN HAIRS dear god. Gigantic wiry things like cat whiskers!! They get plucked, but my facial peach-down is outright fluffy now and I refuse to amend this. I am NOT going to start shaving.

My shape is altering. So strange to be losing weight (deliberately! Slowly!) and have a different shape being slowly revealed than the one I had before. Deflated boobs. Odd flappy areas of arms and legs. Poochy belly. Fat redistribution. I'm not doing much strength work at the moment - I need to - and I'll be fascinated to see what happens when I get a bit of muscle tone back.

Check on the sleep thing. I was fortunate not to get the night sweats but my sleep is trash. 1-2h at a time, at best, and if I get 6 hours total it's a great night. Constantly the wrong temperature, constantly restless, doesn't matter how tired you are. Made even more annoying by...

... needing to pee up to three or four times a night. A good night I only get up once. I'm pretty sure if I was sleeping well I wouldn't be woken by the need, but when you're awake anyway...!

Although I didn't realise it til I read this thread, check on the feeling like me again. Very odd. Hot take - society doesn't expect much duty from you as a kid - the pressure descends at puberty - and then lifts again when you're "old"? I don't know. Maybe it's just that..

... check, double check, triple very much check on the giving no fucks. O my sisters - it is glorious. You can do you all life long, but for me at least there's always been a shrill background whine from the panicky social animal in my head.... and that is now, finally, quiet. Hello magenta & orange radical pixie cut of my dreams, AND the magical ability to give not one single solitary miniature damn about what anybody might think about that.

Not all the changes & experiences are fun, but they do eventually pass. I've done my best to inhabit my new self with a kind of exasperated affection - there's nothing I can do about this, there's nothing actually wrong, so. May as well look forward.
posted by Ilira at 7:22 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]

My menopause symptom is mostly hot flashes. I have had fans staged all over the house for about six years. The other one is being entirely fucking sick of men.* I don't know when or if these will subside.

*#notallmen but damn near
posted by corvikate at 1:39 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]

All of the symptoms are there for me, but they can be explained by other things, so I don't know what to believe.

My gyn was able to take some blood and test my hormones. I'm not a medical person and don't know a thing about how it works but it confirmed I was in menopause.
posted by joannemerriam at 4:34 PM on February 22

Not Having Periods! is great. Lack of estrogen is umm, what's that word, the word is the shape of, um, it means unusu.. weird! (I and many friends find that language gets weird at menopause.) My skin changed, my energy faded even more, concentration is different. There's so little useful information; it was mysterious when I was a young girl; women's bodies go through So Much Change.

Menopause is the gate to Cronehood. Welcome! You brought chocolate, right? and wine?
posted by theora55 at 3:40 PM on February 24 [4 favorites]

Okay, I’m fascinated by all the talk about ADHD. I have really been feeling that hard and definitely onset with other perimenopause symptoms. What do I do? Will my doctor know about this? Or will I have to go through several rounds of gaslighting? Does it go away once menopausal?
posted by amanda at 8:35 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]

I think that is me too. I have been advised to get a neuro-psych eval on the ADD so that has some less subjective assessment criteria. Haven't done it yet.
posted by Miko at 9:50 AM on February 25

Does it go away once menopausal?

My personal experience has been no - the brain fog is gone and that's great, but my ability to wrangle my focus is still entirely fucked. But of course it's 2021 so I have no idea how much of this is inherent and how much of it is the angst and dread firehose of the past 5-6 years just taking an unsurprising toll. So I will work on getting an evaluation once I feel comfortable going out and doing that.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:26 PM on February 25

For me the mood Swings and hot flashes have mellowed a lot. The slow metabolism is probably permanent.
posted by Miko at 7:55 PM on February 25

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