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Women, Menopause and Midlife
It’s not easy being a woman - at any age - but certainly the most trying time for a woman is when she segues into menopause signaling her transition into Midlife where many women experience a myriad of changes, and can be the most difficult time.
Men are spared having ‘periods’, menopause and child-birth. Imagine if you will, being a woman who is not only a wife, mother and housekeeper, but reports to a job as well; (in my case I was a single Mother who worked two jobs for many years); What a heavy load all that is on a woman. Remember the commercial - “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man”. Wow, what pressure that is! Taking care of children, a husband, a house and reporting to a job! Something has to suffer - it usually does. What suffers? The woman - she has no time for herself. After that schedule, it’s no wonder she has to put herself on a back burner.
Imagine further, if you will, that single Mothers do everything - raise children, take care of a household, go to work and make sure all bases are covered between the children and the finances. Now, that is a feat! And, millions of women are doing it every day. And, very rarely, do they get the acknowledgment or praise that they so richly deserve.
Getting back to the most difficult years - speaking for myself and many other women I’m sure, it starts around 50 - then from that point on it varies from woman to woman. I have a friend who has been going through menopausal symptoms for over 12 years. I have another friend who swears her menopause only lasted a month or two. She is the exception to the rule, for sure. The mother of a close friend of mine once said to me “if you can survive your 50’s, you can survive anything”.
Then, it seems things start to go awry all at once. Many women feel at this time that their bodies start to betray them. In a way, they do - because our bodies are now starting to lose the hormones that protected us our entire lives up until now. Now, things that we got away with eating when we had a hormonal system in perfect working order, start to wreak havoc with us as we do not burn off excess calories like we did before. Our bodies have changed. The weight does not come off like it did before. Our hormones start fluctuating and not only go out of balance, but remain out of balance until such time that we can find a good doctor who knows how to test and give (natural)supplements that can re-balance our hormones to put us back on the track to good health once more - it will most likely take some time, however.
Because menopause causes hormonal fluctuations - levels of our precious hormones start to diminish; and, from everything I’ve studied and researched, the good hormones usually go down and the bad hormones soar - thus creating a serious imbalance in a woman’s system. This leads to issues such as thyroid problems - and there are many different types of thyroid problems, among them hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid); hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid); Hashimoto’s, Addison’s disease, and the list goes on and on.
Another problem is ‘insulin resistance’ (Syndrome 'X'). This can lead to a 'fatty liver' and, down the road, even Diabetes Type 2. This has become an epidemic. Studies now show that approximately 50% of all people over the age of 50 have some degree of ‘insulin resistance’. Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in a person’s body will not open to allow the insulin that the pancreas has released into the bloodstream to do its job which is to reduce the level of sugar which was floating around in the bloodstream by storing it in the cells to be used as energy. The cells basically refuse to open up and accept all this excess sugar (triglycerides) and, instead, the insulin which has processed the food and broken it down into sugar (a big culprit is carbohydrates) gets stored in the liver as FAT. That is also why the person/people who have this ‘insulin resistance’ always feel wiped out, exhausted. The sugars/carbs are being stored as FAT in the liver (see above "fatty liver")and NOT energy in the cells as nature intended. The body is now malfunctioning. Then, the weight starts piling on.
I wonder what came first - the chicken or the egg. What I mean is - some studies show that people develop fat around their mid-section due to the insulin resistance. Other studies say that first our mid-sections get thick, which then leads to insulin resistance. It’s a ‘Catch-22‘.
To switch gears now, another situation that very likely comes into play at this time as well is that our parents have gone into the twilight of their lives - and at some point are no longer able to live on their own - or one of our parents may have passed away and that means that we adult children may have one (or both) parents moving in with us or that we will be overseeing them and their well-being from this point on, wherever they may go - whether another sibling’s home or assisted living, or a nursing home.
My father moved in with me when he was 75 after I had already lived through a marriage and an acrimonious divorce as well as having raised my daughter alone since she was 11 years old. When my Father moved in, I was in my early 40’s and I had just started dating a new guy and things were going quite well. Then, I received THE CALL. My father wanted to come and live with me. Both of my siblings were not keen on him living with them. In fact, they would not offer. My Father's biggest fear was ending up in a nursing home. I knew that my life, as I knew it, would now end. My father was old-school, an old-world man who was very domineering and controlling. I knew he would view me as still being 12 years old once he moved into my house, and I was right.
It was a difficult time - we butted heads quite often. Once, he made an issue because I bought ’another’ butter when I already had one in the refrigerator. That did not sit well with him and, as he unloaded my groceries, he berated me for it (even though I paid for it). Little things like that made living together unpleasant. He was vying for control of my home. The words of my Mother came back to haunt me - she always said to me "but you don’t understand because you haven't lived with your Father for years". Now I was. Again.
As I said, it seems everything hits at once - and possibly we are still raising our own children, especially if we are in second marriages where we started a family (or another family) in our mid to late thirties or early forties. Now we have a very full plate - and with menopause and all its changes rearing its ugly head, we may be battling a host of annoying health problems.
As I see it, just when we need to be in the best physical, mental and emotional state of our life/lives, we are now in ‘Midlife’ and worse, Menopause, and we are less equipped for what is on our plate than we have ever been in our lives. It just doesn’t seem fair. I really don’t think men (or most men anyway) have any idea what effect menopause has on a woman. It can wreak havoc physically, mentally and emotionally. I know many women who are taking anti-depressant pills, thyroid medications as well as either natural or man-made hormones. We are all just trying to ‘keep on keeping on’.
It would be nice if the world would cut us some slack once in a while. We are not superhuman beings - we women are ordinary mortals - we just do the impossible on a daily basis -- H-O-L-L-A !
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