I am no longer myself. I have been in perimenopause for about three years. This is the time before my  periods have completely stopped for a year, at which time I cross the line into menopause. But in the meantime, way too much is going on with my body and my brain.

My damn temperature

The reason I say, “Is it hot in here?” is because I truly don’t know. Like stepping outside in August after being inside all day, I feel like I AM August. Even after a few years, I still think it’s the weirdest phenomenon. When my body goes back to a normal temperature, I feel relieved. But a hot flash makes me annoyed. My attention is taken away from daily life, replaced with concern about my health and what the heck is happening to me at the moment. I’m just waiting for it to go away.

My damn brain

When I say I can’t think, that’s 100% true. I call it being muddle-headed, meaning my thinking and memory are, well, frustratingly muddy. I even think about my thinking, wishing desperately that my brain was cooperating. My thoughts are confused or just plain gone. Lacking my ability to organize and plan, even just complete tasks efficiently, is worrying. Is this a normal age-related problem exacerbated by lack of hormones (probably), or is this a more profound memory problem due to bad genes? When the result is that the To Do list doesn’t get done, that stresses out my normally high-energy self.

My damn waistline

I’m gaining weight in my hips, thighs and belly. This is new to me. Being over 50, the weight creep is expected but the surprise is where the weight is going—and staying. Granted, this is not a direct symptom of perimenopause, but it is happening concurrently, so I’m going to blame hormones. I do remember what it is like to be smaller, and this body is not mine. This larger me doesn’t feel good, physically or emotionally. I mourn my loss of endurance and lightness. When I focus on these details, I feel less sexy as a result. And that’s a shame.

My damn (lack of) sleep

I have had insomnia for years. Turns out that perimenopause is not helping that situation. I know this is a symptom of stress and that better habits like meditation and more exercise would help. Heck, counseling would help. The lack of restful, restorative sleep affects my damn temperature, my damn weight, and my damn mind. Being overly tired makes me physically ill. My joints ache, my head hurts and my stomach is upset. I pull inside myself and can be grumpy or needy. I’m more sensitive and my lows are lower. I try to be patient and kind with DH even though I may want to scream at him. I just want to be taken care of, most of all.

Okay, so what to do about it?

Almost two years ago, I began hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to replace the estrogen that has is decreasing in my body. I felt better almost instantly although not perfect. My gynecologist tells me we will decide year by year whether or not to continue HRT but the currently advised limit is 10 years. I have started thinking about discontinuing HRT in the next two years.

I try to walk more and eat better. I go to bed earlier. I try to be patent and accepting of this change. Like the rest of us who have a new ache or unknown pain every week, I muse about this phase, this autumn in the span of my life. Only a curious tourist. Not yet a resident.

How is DH handling my change of life?

My darling husband of 30 years rolls with the menopausal punches. He is patient and kind. He makes me laugh. He asks questions. He asks me if I need anything. He listens to me and makes appropriate responses so I feel heard. In a sentence, he makes me feel better. When I ask him how he handles my perimenopause symptoms, he says, “I just let you be you.”

This is a bumpy road, and that is exactly what I need right now.

For more information about perimenopause, see WebMD: Guide to Perimenopause