by Tyran Butler

I used to sleep like a rock. I used to be as sharp as a tack. I used to be relatively easy to get along with, in most cases. I used to be younger. Perimenopause has changed my life. None of what I mentioned remains true. They only used to be. Things we think will never happen to us, indeed can and do happen to us. I am a witness (visualize my raised hand). Perimenopause is happening to me. For some reason, I thought I would be spared. I was not.

“Mama, are you having one of those hot lashes again?” is what my younger brother used to ask my mom when she would act, what appeared to me to be, overly dramatic—throwing her head back, wiping the top of her head out with a cloth, sighing and swearing she was about to burn up. I’d sneak and roll my eyes and look away. I had very little sympathy. I didn’t respect it then, but I sure do owe my mom an apology for the thoughts I thought about her behavior. I have learned to put some respect on menopause’s name. It was ‘lashing’ my mom back then and it is ‘lashing’ me now. I don’t like this at all, and I am here to tell you about it.   

The Sweat

I am in a constant battle with the people in my house and those who ride in my car about the temperature. Nobody believes me when I tell them it is hot.

“Mommy, it’s your problems, again.” 

“Girl, you have problems.”

“It really isn’t hot,” is what I hear.

Despite what they say during the day, I have compelling evidence for them in the middle of the night. On any given night, I look as though someone has doused me with water. At least three times per week, I wake up drenched because my night sweats are excruciating. I have had to change clothes and put towels in my bed to make it through to the other side. I have found myself wiping my forehead in my sleep, to come away with a hand half-filled with sweat. This shit is ugly. It’s gross. One night, in fact, my husband had to change his pajama pants because I wet him with my sweat. Either my family freezes and I am able to function like a normal person, or the house and car remain at a decent temperature and I slowly self-combust. One night, my husband and I were lying in bed. He touched my torso and exclaimed, you’re hot! I sat up and looked at him (in the dark) and said, and what do you think I have been saying all of this time, man?!? I think he thought, as I thought about my mom, that I was being overly dramatic. He has likely been rolling his eyes. I can’t with the sweat. It is driving me crazy. Menopause is the problem. One bright side is that I have discovered, through deprivation, that a decrease in my sugar intake leads to a decrease in the hot lashes (flashes). There are no win-wins on this front. If being taken out during perimenopause was a thing, it would be the sweat for me. It’s a problem.

The Itch

Itching is not the business. Downstairs itching is definitely not the business. I know this. Hell, any reasonable person knows this. Menopause does NOT know this. My lady garden (i.e., my vulva) itches often. It itches incessantly. It itches unabatingly. It itches, and I am pissed that nobody prepared me for it. I had never even imagined an itchy vulva. Now that my vulva itches, I know all about itchy vulvas. Apparently, they too, are a symptom of menopause. Why didn’t anybody tell me? This would have been good to know. This is why I am telling you. Maybe you already know. If you do, I am here to co-sign, sister. Nothing is wrong with our vulvas. Itchy vulvas are real and normal and we have them. We should normalize the conversation. We deserve it. Mine itched so much that I went to the allergy doctor. Once I convinced him that absolutely nothing had changed in my routine other than my vulva decided to start itching, we were able to get somewhere. There is good news, though! The Honey Pot Company’s panty spray and soothing lavender vulva cream are my friends and they can be your friends. If being taken out during perimenopause was a thing, it would be the itch for me. It’s a problem.

The Cognitive Resources

I am a reasonably intelligent person. Historically, I have been able to hold a lot of information in my head and elucidate on it as necessary. Currently, this is not true. I can no longer remember a damned thing. In addition, I  have the attention span of a flea. When I was younger, I remember a friend in her forties telling me she was forgetting the simplest things. She was flustered and I was clueless. It was menopause. It will have you thinking that you are losing it. You aren’t losing it. Menopause is taking it away from you. My ability to remember things and my ability to recall simple words has been diminished significantly. I am appalled. It’s a problem! My husband and daughters will tell me they told me something, and I will have absolutely NO recollection of the event ever happening. They often look at me like I am the crazy one. For a while, I was convinced they were conspiring against me. Now, I know menopause is the conspirator. To combat it, I have been writing notes. I keep a handy dandy notebook with me at all times to jot down simple things I would never have written down before. Lots of things are happening that have never happened before, and I have to employ strategies that will afford me a modicum of success at continuing to demonstrate I am reasonably intelligent.

I encourage myself to get comfortable in this new body. It is here to stay. An inability to accept my body for the duration of my life would be a problem.

The Belly

My belly is fatter than it used to be. Perimenopause is the reason. No matter what I do, I cannot get back the belly (and waist) that I used to have. My shape, that used to be somewhat of a Coke bottle, is turning into a juice box. I don’t like it.  If this is happening to you, sis, I am in it with you. It is not us; it is menopause’s fault. Despite the inevitable, I continue to walk miles, to ride miles, to practice yoga, to try to choose foods that will support my desire to be healthy and to look somewhat good (to my eye), and to remind myself I am doing the right things for myself. I encourage myself to get comfortable in this new body. It is here to stay. An inability to accept my body for the duration of my life would be a problem.

The Intention

My intention in writing this is to share a bit of my experience and to help women see they are not alone as they deal with the crazy things that come along with any phase of menopause. We aren’t real enough with one another about it. I am a firm believer in being prepared…I wasn’t prepared for this, so if sharing a bit of my chronicles helps someone, I am happy to serve it up!

Tyran Butler is a woman in her late forties, fighting the good fight of menopause.

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