Husband and I watched The Avengers again recently, and I started thinking about how similar I am to the Incredible Hulk. Bruce Banner and I both go from a fairly mellow, introverted, seemingly normal person to a stunningly angry, homicidal, destructosaurus in a matter of seconds. The differences are
- I don’t turn green,
- I (very unfortunately) do not possess superhuman strength, and
- I am a perimenopausal woman.
Consider, if you will, this fairly comprehensive list of 35 Symptoms of Perimenopause as presented by healthline.com:
- Hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mood swings, sudden tears
- Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
- Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
- Loss of libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Crashing fatigue
- Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
- Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
- Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
- Disturbing memory lapses
- Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing; urge incontinence
- Itchy, crawly skin
- Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
- Increased tension in muscles
- Breast tenderness
- Headache change: increase or decrease
- Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
- Sudden bouts of bloat
- Exacerbation of existing conditions
- Increase in allergies
- Weight gain
- Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair
- Dizziness, vertigo, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
- Changes in body odor
- Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
- Tingling in the extremities
- Gum problems, increased bleeding
- Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
- Osteoporosis (after several years)
- Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier
- Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, ‘whooshing,’ buzzing, etc.
Delightful, huh. And I’ve been experiencing about half of them. No wonder I feel like I’m losing my fucking mind.
Let’s read on:
When most women enter perimenopause, they expect a few hot flashes and night sweats. They might even expect mood swings, vaginal dryness, and loss of libido. What they won’t expect, however, are overwhelming thoughts of doom and dread, panic attacks, high anxiety, heart palpitations, vertigo, dizziness, unrelenting insomnia, and feelings of losing control.
Yet a large number of women experience these symptoms and many others which you may not think are associated with perimenopause. In fact, so wild and unpredictable are some of the symptoms, a lot of women think they are going crazy.
Why, yes, healthline.com. We do.
I am more irritable and bitchy than I’ve ever been in my life, and that’s saying something. Last night, as I was trying to leave for a restorative yoga practice (to help with my stress level, right?), Happy Dog wouldn’t kennel when I told her to, so I chased her outside screaming, “I AM THE ALPHA! I AM THE ALPHA! WHY DO YOU DEFY ME SO?” As I pulled the sliding screen door aside, it came partly out of its track, so, naturally, I yanked it the rest of the way out and threw it across the patio. I mean, who wouldn’t? HULK SMASH.
Husband asked me to help him install gutters recently, but I was apparently emotionally incapable of doing simple things like handing him tools, standing on a ladder or using a tape measure. I’ll leave out the details, but it got so bad I had to get in my car and leave. After I came back home, Husband confessed that he’d gotten frustrated with his elderly battery-powered drill and hurled it across the yard. Neither of us realized perimenopause could be contagious.
I don’t sleep well anymore. There have been times in the past couple years when I’ve slept so poorly for days on end that I feel like one of those soldiers in government sleep-deprivation experiments. (Snoring Husband and Abnormally Loud Trains don’t help.) And sometimes I wake up drenched in sweat, having soaked through my t-shirt. EW.
My mother had a very difficult time with perimenopause, and used hormone replacement therapy for years. I used to think, naively, that I was going to be one of those Christiane Northrup-worshiping hippies, embracing my womanhood and powering through perimenopause without pharmaceutical assistance. Now I’m wondering if anyone’s invented an HRT-administering version of an insulin pump, how many of them I can attach to my body at one time and whether they’d be noticeable under my clothes.
How can anyone be expected to live like this? Truly, I can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve felt so completely out of control. Poor Husband. Poor Happy Dog. I hope they can find it in their hearts to forgive me for going all Incredible Hulk on their asses over the smallest things.
Incredible Hulk wallpaper by Sean Parsons at http://www.hulklibrary.com