Das Bunte Leben

Facing Menopause with a Grin

Facing menopause with a grin (text on photo of laughing woman) ©Johanna Ringe 2023 www.johannaringe.com

Are you menopausal? Ummm… Too much? Too fast? Okay, let ‘s start at the beginning. If you are reading my blog, it is highly probable that you are quite sensible and quite sensitive. And, that you are a woman. And probably older than 25 years, perhaps around 50. But even if you are not, neither woman nor around fifty, you might be interested in human beings in general.

And nobody knows enough about menopause.

A gynaecologist will know a lot, I’ll give you that, but enough? My gynaecologist always says to me that we all are different, and menstruation and menopause will manifest themselves differently in each woman. And probably differently each month. So, there’s quite a range of things that are considered normal. I was happy to hear that.

It’s a rare treat for me to be considered normal.

As someone who is always too feminine, too masculine, too loud, too voluptuous, too serious, too light-hearted, too quiet, too introverted, too extroverted, in short: too everything, I had lost all hope to be considered normal in any way! My cycles were different every time, from puberty until now they were too short, too long and everything in between. I got pregnant when I couldn’t have, and I sensed the child moving inside my body when I weren’t supposed to. They always told me that my perceptions were wrong, my assumptions were wrong and basically everything about me was wrong.

I should have lost faith in my own perceptions, but I did not.

Because pain is real. A human being growing inside your body is real. Milk in a bra is real, and my daughters were thankful for that. Blood in your pants is as real as it gets. And nobody would be able to talk me out of those real experiences and perceptions. I tend not to discuss those things in public, but the older I get and the more rubbish I must listen to, the louder I get. Even about bodily functions and those very unpopular and bloody days of menstruation.

Because those bloody days are undeniably part of life for half of humanity.

I hope that I took enough care of my daughters knowing what was happening when they started to bleed. I made it normal to talk about it at home, discussing the pros and cons of different products and caring for each other during the tough days before and during our periods. My husband often suggested to me that my unproportional sadness might be related to my hormones when I did not even think about PMS. And he did so lovingly and caring.

Women’s hormonal cycles are normal around here. So is talking about them.

I’m happy with my life, and with my daughters, but I regret not having sons for just one reason: I would have loved to normalise menarche, menstruation and menopause for them and their friends in the same way I did it for my daughters.
But coming back to menopause, it is really annoying. Even when I have been spared those famous hot flushes until now,

I hate the unpredictability and vehemence with which my body celebrates the farewell to fertility.

Contrary to many women I know, for decades I could function normally during my bleeding time. These days, not so much. I am reduced to a world of pain and blood covered with the very dense brain fog. But even the rest of the time, when I am not bleeding, there is a lot that makes me remember puberty. There are hairs where they should not be, there are sleepless nights and naps, there is emotional disbalance and there is arousal, there are abscesses and short fuses

Menopause and puberty have so much in common

Both are inevitable, both can happen early or late and be influenced by medical conditions. Both are very stressful for the person experiencing them as well as for family and friends. Both are different for every person and there seem to be no rules that we could rely on. Both leave you happy when you got through, and both give you the capacity to relate to other people going through them. And as for everything related to being human, they give plenty of room for caricature and humour.

Don’t make fun of it unless you are in the middle of it or have experienced it.
But then by all means make fun of it…!

Because it helps. Your body could do with the little extra of oxygen you inhale when you are laughing. The increased circulation of blood, the involuntary pressure of the diaphragm, the deep inhalation – very helpful things in most situations. So, unless you have had surgery on your torso recently, make fun of it!

Making fun of something terrible always helps.

So, if you are menopausal, please consider reading funny books about it, watch comediennes who have been through it and tell me all about it! Because there’s one thing that helps even more than laughter, and that is community.

Suffering together is half the suffering,
and laughing together is twice as liberating.

Unterschrift Johanna (c) Johanna Ringe 2014 ff. www.dein-buntes-leben.de

P.S.: And what do you know about andropause…? ;-)