I'm 44 years old and going through perimenopause.
I've had all the expected symptoms, but the hardest to manage has been rage.
I wish we could talk more openly about what I'm going through.
I'm about to turn 44, and I am knee-deep in perimenopause.
In the last couple of years since it started, I have experienced a range of symptoms that are commonly known and discussed somewhat frequently: night sweats, hot flashes, increased anxiety, and abnormally spaced periods of varying lengths. To be frank, they're all pretty horrible and uncomfortable, but so far, I've been finding ways to manage.
However, the one symptom that crept up on me with no warning whatsoever has been pure, unadulterated rage.
I didn't really know what perimenopause was about
I'll be honest: before the last couple of years, I just thought perimenopause was a (short) amount of time before you fully stopped having a period and entered menopause. Little did I know that this transition period from fertile goddess to kickass crone can last anywhere from two to 10 years.
It started slowly with me. At first, a few periods lasted longer, or I had a bit of spotting before or after my period. Then the night sweats came (almost like clockwork, 10 days before I would start to bleed). After a couple of months of them, I figured out a system. A little over a week before I guessed my period would start, I would leave a towel and clean pair of pajamas by the side of the bed for when I inevitably woke up soaking wet. I could do a quick change, place the towel on my sheets, and try to fall back asleep.
Things were going OK. I learned to end each shower with a burst of cold water, which helped my body temperature regulate so I wasn't sweating underneath my breasts and down my back right after I had washed up. With my doctor's help, I figured out an updated dose of my anxiety meds that worked better. I discovered which type of sheets were the best at cooling me down at night, and I invested in period underwear to get me through those increased days of spotting.
But the one thing I have yet to figure out is the rage.
I'm not alone in experiencing absolute rage
I've been angry before, sure. But as someone who is frequently described as "chill," it's not an emotion I've ever given much energy toward. I get frustrated or annoyed, but rarely do I get angry or yell. But recently, a couple of days each month, I've felt a deep, fiery, internal rage.
The first time it happened, it was over something that was absolutely insignificant. It was so trivial that I can't even remember what it was about now. All I remember is that my husband and I had a miscommunication. Something that any other time we could talk it through, get on the same page, and move on. But for some reason, I couldn't let it go. I was pissed. I felt it in my gut, and I couldn't stop it. I could hear my voice getting louder and my words getting more pointed. It was like in the movie "Inside Out," my little red guy was steaming. It felt like a hot flash, only instead of just my body being on fire, the flames licked out to sear my thoughts and feelings. While I could not calm myself down immediately, I did have the presence to say that I recognized that my anger wasn't logical but that I was feeling it deeply and needed a minute to figure it out.
A few minutes later — very much like a hot flash — the heated thoughts started fizzling out, allowing my brain a moment to cool down and process. Then came tears. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. How could I have behaved that way? How could I have allowed myself to get so angry? I apologized to my husband, explaining out loud that I had no idea why or how that had happened.
But you know what? I'm not alone. Around 70% of women reported increased irritability during perimenopause. But because there's a stigma and shame around women expressing anger, we don't talk about it all that much. And that's not OK. I realized that I would never chastise myself for having a panic attack. I would never wonder how I allowed myself to get that anxious.
Yelling at or berating someone is never OK, but that doesn't mean these increased feelings of irritability, anger, and yes — even rage — aren't real and happening as a result of my hormones bopping around until they can finally settle down. It felt like I needed to acknowledge that anger before I could move through and past it.
I just wish we could talk about perimenopause more. That it lasts a significant amount of time, that there are a range of symptoms, and that some of them are just absolutely awful. But you're not alone. I'm here, sweating, sometimes freezing, a little extra anxious, and — on occasion — steaming mad.
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