Dear Menopause,

I’m 51 years old and for the past few years, I’ve been dreading, resisting, and fighting you. Let’s face it: you are intrusive, annoying, and downright scary sometimes. However, I’ve come to accept there is no stopping you. You are a rite of passage that is part of my being. That said, I’m going to consider you my team member and work with you. So let’s discuss your presence and move onward.

You began seeping into my body and brain a few years ago.

I believe it’s technically called perimenopause. At first, you came periodically, frustrating me by causing problems with word retrieval. Vocabulary that typically flowed from my mouth began to stump me as I had to search harder to pull certain words from my once fully loaded repertoire of speech.

As you slowly crept up more often, fear accompanied the frustration you brought. What’s happening to my brain? Why do I have to stop and think for a few moments (or longer) to retrieve the name of that movie I saw a few days ago or what I ate for dinner last night? Why do I suddenly forget my friend’s son’s name for a moment in the middle or our discussion? Why am I constantly losing everything? (Well, if I’m being truly honest I was prone to losing things before, so I suppose I cannot blame that one entirely on you.)

Then you came more frequently to disrupt my multitasking. You made it more difficult for me to remember multiple things at once. Before you entered my world, I could easily go from household chores to working on projects to taking time out for that quick text or email and back to my original task. I could do it all and never think twice. Until remembering what I was doing after getting sidetracked became such a heavy burden that it stopped me in my tracks.

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The slightest distraction threw me off my game. Suddenly, I had to halt and take extra time to think hard before resuming. I cursed you, I feared you, and I will admit, once in a while I panicked, wondering if I was losing my once assured ability to be productive.

Then you appeared in the form of periodic burning heat waves crashing through my body with no warning.

Why must you make me feel like I need to stop whatever I’m doing and run outside for air or run to the freezer for reprieve? Why must you cause dripping sweats at bedtime, waking me up in my sleep? It’s maddening sometimes.

I also don’t know why you’ve brought with you chin and upper lip hairs, another nuisance. Thank goodness there are these things called waxing, threading, and tweezing when needed.

Oh, but let’s not forget about fleeting harsh joint and muscle pains that now periodically come while I’m engaged in athletics (or even when I’m not doing anything). You have limited the types of shoes I can wear and the amount of activity I can endure. However, I also feel much more accomplished and satisfied when I finish my still consistent workouts, hikes, cycling, climbs, etc. So we will get through this.

Then there are the sudden mood swings. Going from euphorically happy and grateful one minute to bawling at the temporary loss of my reading glasses (that I now need) the next.

Through talking to my friends, peers, and doctors, plus the information that’s glaringly transparent on the internet, I realize these symptoms are not unusual and are a sign of menopause or perimenopause. (I’m still not sure which has its hold on me currently).

While perhaps common, the frustration and worry you bring are real.

This is exceedingly irritating, taking up time, and causing me to doubt my abilities to complete tasks, and even converse at times.

RELATED: Growing Older isn’t Something to Fear. It’s an Adventure.

Additionally, I have Googled you, and I know some other symptoms that so far I’ve been fortunate to avoid but might arise at some point: changes in libido or dryness in certain areas, but we both know there are products for that so I can be prepared.

Listen, I’m not above taking hormones or medication if you become too much of a burden to handle. I hear there are some good treatments out there to help cope if you come on so strong that you actually knock me over. (You’ve certainly come close at times.) So I’m not going to fear, dread or fight you any longer. You are a part of my natural womanly process.

You have brought new challenges, but from here out, I am going to accept them.

I am a woman. I am embracing the strength and beauty of being a woman, with all of its highs and lows, so that includes you, menopause. Together, we will carry on. Let’s go.

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Linda Orleans

Linda lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and beautiful 19-year-old daughter who has autism and Crohn’s disease. She is a consultant and writer who holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from University of Southern California. Linda’s articles have been featured in various magazines and sites, some of which include: Her View from Home, Filter Free Parents, Finding Cooper’s Voice, Today Parents, and Autism Parenting Magazine. Having scaled back from her full-time position as a school social worker, Linda continues her passion of advocating for her daughter and others with special needs through writing and speaking engagements. Linda's daughter, Danielle, has a Youtube channel, which you can find at: "Reaching Danielle's Voice".

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