Navigating Life’s Unexpected Twists: My Journey Through Menopause
Lori Lee, Head of People, North America, shares her experience with menopause for World Menopause Day.
In the stillness of the night, when most of the world was lost in dreams, I would abruptly awaken, my heart pounding like a drum solo at a rock concert. My mind seemed to choreograph a gymnastics routine of worry, competing for the elusive gold medal. At times, I found myself drenched in sweat, as if I were rehearsing for a solo water ballet, my spine serving as the grand stage. At 45, I was convinced I was slowly transforming into a stressed-out pretzel.
“I’m okay. Everything’s okay,” I’d whisper to myself, almost as though I were trying to convince a skeptical squirrel. Adding an extra layer of intrigue to the madness, I’d start counting backward from 50, as if my thoughts were engaged in an intense game of hide-and-seek with my anxieties.
Before long, I began experiencing spontaneous “chill sessions” and surprise sweat marathons during my daily train commute. Even more amusingly, I’d transform into a full-blown fountain of perspiration right in the midst of crucial meetings, with a room full of people looking at me as if I were a unicorn who had accidentally stumbled into a scientific symposium. And let’s not forget the simmering rage bubbling up inside me, making me feel like unleashing a fiery tirade for no apparent reason at all.
I was eating less, but it seemed as though I was defying the laws of physics by gaining more weight than a spaceship loaded with donuts. I had once been a size 6, but within two years, I had ballooned to the size of a cosmic black hole, seemingly devouring calories.
Now, I had a group of close friends I could have confided in, but what on earth could I say to them? “Hey, ladies, guess what? I’ve turned into a walking sauna with anger management issues!” It took me years of enduring this rollercoaster of emotions—anger, anxiety, sweating, freezing, and worry—before I finally realized I was essentially hosting a menopause-themed amusement park.
I attempted to describe my peculiar symptoms to countless doctors. “Am I losing my mind? Am I working too hard? Have I broken some universal rule?” I even played a sort of doctor roulette, changing physicians regularly, hoping that somewhere out there, someone had a clue.
Then, one fateful day, following a meltdown that could rival a toddler’s tantrum, I decided I’d had enough. I screamed, cried, yelled, and broke things, and in that chaotic moment, I had an epiphany: there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to this madness. So, I promptly scheduled an appointment with a therapist.
In just two sessions, this young therapist, who likely believed menopause was as mythical as unicorns, dropped a bombshell. “Has anyone ever discussed menopause with you?” she asked. I couldn’t help but burst into laughter. After all, I was too young, too vibrant—I wasn’t supposed to be part of the menopausal club. I stormed out of her office in frustration, sat in my car, tears streaming down my face, only to later realize that she might be onto something. I marched right back in, determined to get an explanation.
Picture this: she wasn’t a day over 35, and there I was, sharing my midlife crisis as though it were the most riveting soap opera drama. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I was all ears. Little did I know, she was about to educate me on a subject she had never personally experienced: menopause, the unexpected plot twist in the sitcom of my life.
Fast forward to today, at the tender age of 53, I’m nearing the end of this wild journey. While I still contend with many of these symptoms, I’ve become adept at managing them and setting realistic expectations for myself. Do I experience hot flashes? Absolutely! Am I occasionally a bit irritable? You bet! Do I miss sleep? Oh, absolutely. But here’s the twist—I’m much more informed about the situation, and I’ve opened up a dialogue with countless women going through the same thing. I’ve learned that I’m not alone anymore, and I don’t have to endure it in silence. Menopause might have thrown me for a loop, but I’ve turned it into one heck of a comedy show!
My journey through the tumultuous seas of menopause might have started as a bewildering and frustrating ordeal, but it has evolved into an unexpected adventure filled with laughter, self-discovery, and camaraderie. I hope my story serves as a reminder that no matter how unpredictable life’s twists and turns may be, we have the power to adapt, grow, and find humor in even the most unlikely situations. So, if you’re experiencing your own midlife rollercoaster, know that you’re not alone, and there’s always room for a good laugh along the way.