Grab a martini, let's demystify menopause.
Today’s Topic: Periods Unleashed.
Finding Our Confidence in Dubious Times
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not a story about Kalamata olives. However, they are a pivotal plot point in this month’s blog. Any attempt to garner hits on Kelli’s blog from Kalamata enthusiasts is not intended. But hey, since you’re here: welcome to all you Kalamata olive lovers!)
The story starts out this way:
We ran out of Kalamata olives. This is also known as a minor emergency in my house – because I. Love. Kalamata. Olives. So, there I was, standing at the olive bar, when I was greeted by a dear friend of mine. We said hello and complained about the rain for a while, like you do in Oregon. As it often does these days in my world, the conversation quickly turned to talk about menopause.
“Do you think I am in perimenopause?” she asked.
I answered by asking her some questions:
“How old are you?” 49…
“Are you experiencing hot flashes?” Sometimes…
“Changes in your periods?” Bingo!
She started sharing with me about how her periods were so unpredictable, she never knew when they were going to arrive, how long they’d stay, and how heavy they would be. “It’s like they’ve become unleashed. I hate it!”
I could tell she was worried, and as we talked I began to feel moved to write. I suddenly knew what my next blog would be about. My lovely friend and our chat over the Kalamatas had inspired me to share some good news with the world. At that moment, I felt like climbing the nearest Douglas Fir and shouting to the entire City of Salem: LADIES! HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU!
Here it is: The angst and fear that we experience during this time in our lives often feels like a curse on us. But I propose that it can be a tremendous blessing for you.
A curse? Sure, maybe.
Oy. The worry. Until you know WHY your periods are stopping, there is constant unease. Our squirrel cage brains begin self-diagnosing. Am I stressed? Am I pregnant? Do I have cancer? Should I go to the doctor? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!?!? (You can thank your hormone levels for all these exacerbated mood swings).
We Google our symptoms and slowly begin to freak-the-F-out.
As I always say: Breathe, sister.
A blessing? Absolutely.
Most often, changes in our periods as we traipse though our 40’s and 50’s is almost surely a sign of perimenopause (of course, consult your doc to make sure). As the reproductive system begins shutting down, our bodies move from the reproductive zone to what I call The Freedom Zone.
Freedom from periods. Freedom from the worry of getting pregnant when you don’t want to. Freedom from buying pads and tampons, and all the necessities of taking care of blood coming from your vagina. It’s expensive to keep your white pants, white. Right?
It’s all good! Getting there can be a bit jolting, and rocky, but the journey is worth it.
Now, I admit, the dream scenario would be for our ovaries to slowly, gracefully, and gradually make less estrogen in a very controlled and prescribed manner. This would keep our flow predictable. We would gently and with great awareness wake one day and say, “Lo and behold! I do believe I am now done with my period!”
HA! Not so! The ovaries release and change amounts of estrogen seemingly at whim; highly unpredictable. You might find yourself, say, at the airport about to board a plane. You have no supplies - because your period ended only a week ago. Just as you are handing the attendant your boarding pass, you realize you are dealing with a Niagara-Falls-in-November type of gush. We all know the drill, right? We have been dealing with periods most of our lives.
Do you remember your first period?
I sure do. I woke up with a red, rusty, tennis ball-sized spot on my sheets one morning. I was devastated. How was I going to run around with my friends and wear my cute new shorts on that summer day?
Some of you are as old as I am and remember those big ole’ Cadillac-sized thick, long pads. That’s what my mom had waiting for me, complete with a sanitary belt. “What the F*&k is that?”, you ask. Some may answer that a sanitary belt is a medieval torture device to make women feel dirty, grossed-out, un-sexy, and ashamed. Because self-adhesive pads became available only in the early 1970s, if women used pads, they had to wear belts. OMG, they were horrible. Thank goodness for companies like Stayfree and 3M for helping move technology forward.
Check out this super interesting article I came upon in my research:
MenstrualCup.co does a great job writing on the history of how women throughout time have handled their monthly flow.
What To Do, What To Do?
Tip #1: Always Be Prepared!
The truth is you never know when that spurt or gush will happen. I recommend always carrying an essential emergency kit. Your kit should include a tampon case, wet wipes, clean panties, Motrin, and chocolate (because, chocolate). You want to plan so you can avoid any embarrassing (read: caught off guard), up-blood-creek moments without a paddle. You deserve some comfort.
Tampon case? One of my favorites is Vinnie’s Tampon case- I’ve carried it for years and pull it out for Show and Tell whenever I speak with women’s groups about this gushing topic. Get one. Seriously.
(You can get one here: http://www.tamponcase.com/Tampon-Cases/Vinnies-Vinyl-Case.html)
Tip #2: Be Your Badass, Confident Self. #NoShame
Changing periods are normal, and for those of us who suffer with them and through them, we know that this too, shall pass. Deciding to have an attitude of loving yourself, loving your changing body, and celebrating your march towards freedom (yaaaasssss!) will go a long way in helping you to feel OK. Wear your coolest jacket, put on those sassy shoes, and move through your life like the bleeding (or not bleeding) goddess you are!
Tip #3: Find A Tribe of Women Who Have Been There.
As many of you out there know, this year, I am hosting soirées around Salem. (You don’t? Click here to read more on them!)
If you live in Salem, I want you at one of these soirées! (Full disclosure, this campaign is intended to tell the world about my upcoming book release.)
I’m telling you, girls, there is some serious sister-hood happening at these free events. I think we women are hungry for a place to meet with one another; to ask another woman, “You have this too?” Soirées help us all to feel like we are all in this together. The next Martinis and Menopause Soirée will be a fun one too!
Local clothing boutique owner, Debra Herring, is hosting us in her wonderful space at Debra Herring Studio on May 31st at 6 pm.
Martinis and non-alcoholic drinks will be served, snacks will be noshed on, and I’ll share some from my book. Mostly, we will gather, laugh, and be together. (BTW: If you are too far from Salem to come, consider hosting your own soirées. All it takes is two women, a comfy couch, a bottle of wine, and poof: instant soirée! And PLEASE let me know about it! Take a picture and share with us– your Kelli Jaecks-Verbal Impact tribe!)
FREEDOM, right? Being prepared with knowledge, your emergency kit, your sass, and your women tribe – you will – I PROMISE – begin to feel some control come back to your life. It IS a good life and you deserve a constant reminder that you have a place here and your body is your friend.
That about does it for this month’s blog…
If you find anything I wrote about helpful, or funny, or interesting, won’t you please share it with your friends? OH! – and I would love to hear from you!
Tell me your period stories! Ask me questions! Challenge me! It’s why I’m doing this.
I want to inspire you, and be inspired BY you. You can share here on the blog, on my Facebook or send me a private message at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bye for now, sisters in hormones.
Be well, and Go Meno!
COMING UP NEXT:
Exercise: As good as HRT
I’m Kelli. I am a menopause survivor, who has catapulted, stumbled, laughed, and cried my way to the other side of perimenopause and menopause. Along the way I’ve learned invaluable tips and resources to live my best self and beat the Hormone Groan!
No longer a hormone hostage (at least most days), my goal is to help you live well and with personal power through all the changes we go through in this incredible journey of life!