Yes, Perimenopause is Real, and No, You’re Not Going Crazy
This is the tagline for my other blog, The Perimenopause Blog, born out of a time when I was in the thick of my own perimenopause symptoms and questioning my sanity. I wrote a post entitled: “Perimenopause: Yes, it’s Real, and No, You’re Not Going Crazy,” and the rest is history, as they say.
That particular post was probably the post which single-handedly put The Perimenopause Blog on the blogosphere map, as it were. That’s because feeling as if you are going crazy is a common complaint among women who are going through perimenopause.
I’m not sure why it is that so many women feel they are losing their grip on reality when they begin to go through perimenopause, but many of us do. Maybe it’s the anxiety and panic attacks. Or the heart palpitations, vertigo, and dizziness. Maybe it’s the debilitating mood swings and depression. Or maybe it’s just the whole damn lot of it - and it’s scary.
If your spouse or significant other is not particularly supportive (as mine wasn’t), then it can be even more difficult and scary. Feeling like you have to navigate the turbulence of hormone imbalance all by yourself is emotionally isolating at best, and debilitating at worst. Yes, that may sound dramatic to those of you who may have had an easy time transitioning from perimenopause into menopause. But, for the roughly 80 percent of women who don’t have an easy time, it is the cold, hard reality.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to come off as an emotional Eeyore when I say these things. I understand that the best attitude to have when you go through perimenopause is a positive one. It helps. It really does.
But, I’m all about authenticity in life, and emotionally buoyant Polly Annas, mindlessly chirping happy platitudes and “wise words to live by” do very little to actually help women, in my opinion. Most women I know do not enjoy struggling in perimenopause. If they could just “C'mon get happy” or “Put on a happy face” and feel magically better about it all, I can assure you, they would.
My mission has been one of compassion and empathy. I want women to know they are not alone. Or if they are having a tough time coping, that it is not due to some character flaw, or psychological deficiency. Enough of that already. Telling women they just need to “change their attitude” won’t actually help them. It only draws attention to what they already know – that they are not coping very well.
Contrary to what some may think (or tell us), perimenopause is not just “all in our head.” If it were, then menstrual cycles, fertility, conception, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and post-partum depression would all be in our head, too. Because, like perimenopause, they are also hormonally driven.
The symptoms, the struggles, and the difficulty that many women have coping with perimenopause have their roots in biology and physiology, not psychology. Though it is true that many women may feel like they are going crazy, they are not.
If there is but one over-riding message I wish for the readers of my blog (both men and women) to take away, it is this one: Perimenopause is not the result of psychological or emotional instability. It is not “all in our heads.” It is real, and no one is going crazy.
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.