Why Am I So Sad in Perimenopause?
Women know by the time they are in their 30s and early 40s they will one day reach menopause. Intellectually, we embrace it and see it as a major life transition, much like puberty. But what we don’t expect – and I haven’t met a woman yet who wasn’t gobsmacked by it – is that we will also grieve.
Many women experience an overwhelming sadness in perimenopause which they are not prepared for. I distinctly remember telling my husband when I first began to enter perimenopause that it felt like something was dying inside of me. Something really huge was happening, and I didn’t understand what it all meant, but it made me feel very sad. Now that I’ve reached menopause and have passed through the ups and downs, and many gyrations of perimenopause, I understand what that feeling was. It was grief.
Few of us give thought to the years prior to perimenopause and the formation of our self-identity. It is a process which happens naturally as we grow from infancy into childhood and adolescence, and then from adolescence into womanhood. Once we reach womanhood, the roots of self-identity are deep and well-formed. A large part of that identity for many women is their fertility and sexuality.
Once we begin perimenopause, the reality that our womb will no longer be able to give new life is very difficult for a lot of women to accept. It is a death of sorts, and it makes us sad. We begin to question our purpose and our worth, and though we may not say it out loud, we start to wonder if our life and existence is of any value anymore.
It can also be quite bewildering when you are experiencing it, but can’t quite put your finger on what it is. I’ve heard women say, “I walk around feeling sad all the time! What’s wrong with me??” And more recently, one of my readers made this poignant comment:
“My biggest hurdle is the fluctuations and foreign feelings this perimenopause has brought on. But I have learned you don't verbalize it freely; it's a real show stopper. I stand on my faith, even though I am in a true wilderness time. I find myself wanting to tell people, I wish you knew me before! I was so joyful and full of life....”
When you’re in the thick of perimenopause, it does feel like a “true wilderness time.” And as this reader so eloquently pointed out, feeling as if you are not able to speak openly about it, only increases the feelings of isolation and sadness.
Grief is a process which takes time, and the grief associated with perimenopause is no different. I personally think it is the grief process which causes so many women to become philosophical and reflective during the years of perimenopause.
By the time they reach menopause, they have done the spiritual soul-searching and work which is necessary to help them accept the change of menopause; and which also helps them to move on in a healthy way to the next stage of life. For women in menopause, the next stage is often filled with new vigor, energy, and optimism.
If you are in perimenopause and are struggling with feelings of sadness and grief, what you are experiencing is normal and common among many women. It is important that you give yourself permission and time to process the emotions. If you find that it is too difficult to manage by yourself, seek the help and guidance of a professional grief counselor. And remember, this too shall pass.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.