This is a pretty weird time in my life this bizarre territory they refer to as “perimenopause”. No one can actually explain when it begins except to rattle off a whole heap of symptoms, none that pleasant that are meant to identify we are in the dread “P” Zone and that we will eventually darken further into the menopausal “M” Zone. WE have so much to look forward to hot flushes, brain fog, fatigue, dry vaginas, saggy skin, moodiness, incontinence, sleepless nights and anxiety
I just wanted to talk about the anxiety I have started to experience in this stage/phase of my life because I just think it is time these years were given a voice for other women and for us to start piecing together what causes us to feel the way we do.
I have started to feel anxious and this has been a weird experience for me as I’m not normally an anxious person. I tend to go at life like a bull at a gate. But to be honest I think the anxiety and uneasiness I am feeling is because nothing in my life feels the same. I feel like someone has taken the air out of my balloon, the P out of my passion and D out of my drive. For an insanely driven Pitta, type A, workaholic, overachiever like me this is very uncomfortable territory. I feel breathless and fearful about what this next chapter of my life is going to look like without the enthusiasm I used to have for oh so so so many things. I cant actually allow myself to think about it too much or the anxiety starts to rise again.
Thank God for yoga and my spiritual practice and for the patient and honest counsel of women who have walked this path before me. I have come to know now that my anxiety survives on silences and secrecy (a lot like shame) and it tends to loose its grip on me once I speak it out. Ive tried exercising it away and that was a fail so I tried to exercise more, then a different exercise, then then then. Then I finally had to admit I couldn’t out move this dilemma, in fact anxiety is a vata imbalance and it calls for calm and quiet not movement.
So I turned to yoga, yin yoga has been a savour, but on days when my mind just will not shut up and no amount of long slow deep breaths help I have to just sit with feeling really flipping uncomfortable. That its sorry no perfect remedies just surrender.
Guided meditation has really eased the intensity of the anxiety but Id be lying to you if I told you that it will get rid of it completely, that has not been my experience.
Cooking really helps me because it is grounding and nurturing but I can still see that part of myself trying to distract myself from the discomfort and resisting putting my bum in a chair and sitting and breathing and feeling into what these feelings are and what I am avoiding looking at and feeling.
As I mentioned before nothing really calms the churning feelings like calling a friend who has done the hard yards and is out the other side, she is post menopausal and able to sharing honestly about her experience.Hearing that she too felt as if she had lost interest in all the things that use to charge her comforts me and calms my nerves. Understanding that this is new territory and a time of deep physical and spiritual transformation has allowed me to let go of some of those things that used to demand my attention externally and instead turn my gaze inward to myself and how it honestly feels to be an ageing woman inside this beautiful body of mine. Ive also discovered that a lot of my anxiety comes from my inability to accept that I am changing. I am no longer a fertile young woman who desires to be front and centre of all thats happening, now I am happier to listen and observe. I still feel incredibly stressed about becoming invisible. Anxious about not contributing enough. Anxious about being too old to fit in. Anxious about the new lines that seem to be appearing on my face everyday. Anxious about the loss of tone in my skin. Anxious about my career. Anxious about my health. Anxious about ……………….
And for today I just need to accept this is OK, trying not to be anxious will not change anything. I must accept I am moving into a more fragile time in my life. In Ayurveda we call this the Vata phase of life when we naturally becoming more sensitive both physically and emotionally. I understand that this time in my life requires that I become more grounded, that I learn to be aware of my energy and I need to avoid being hungry, angry, lonely and tired. I must remember that I don’t have the energetic capacity of a 2o year old and respect that. I may not feel as motivated to contribute in the same way as I used to but I can use this time to be creative and share the knowledge I have learnt with others who choose to hear it. This is an incredibly special time in my life should I choose to embrace it and if I’m honest somedays I fall into it willingly and other days I kick and scream and resist it with everything in me and the anxiety rises and becomes unmanageable again.
I wasn’t a perfect teenager, I was a bumpy 30 year old and a confused 40 year old so now as a 50+ year old woman I’m still finding my way and that is absolutely ok. Ive learnt that admitting Ive not got things all sorted is not the worst thing I could ever do. I am keen now to start conversations, real honest open conversation about this challenging and also incredibly beautiful time in an ageing womens life. I’ve come to see that trying to figure it all out with my mind is not the answer. I hope you will join me on this journey and contribute to the conversation. I think one of the things women miss the most these days is spending real no bullshit time with other women or at least I do. I hope I find some hear who feel to share their experience in this territory.