Excerpt adapted from Menopocalypse: How I Learned to Thrive During Menopause and How You Can Too, by Amanda Thebe
WHEN MENOPAUSE AND MIDLIFE COLLIDE
Have you ever googled the world “midlife”? The first thing that comes up is “midlife crisis,” along
with this definition at Wikipedia: “A midlife crisis is a transition of identity and self-confidence that
can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45–64 years old.” This just happens to coincide with
the time women go through menopause. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that we should be
identified as having a midlife crisis because of the symptoms and challenges of menopause. This
term seems insensitive, as well as inaccurate, especially when a woman is having a particularly hard
time with menopause or dealing with difficult major life events.
As we move into our forties and beyond, we face many challenges. We are no longer living the life
that we did in our twenties and thirties (and in some cases, I say thank the Lord for that!). The
challenges we faced back then fade into insignificance compared with the very real challenges
we face right now.
In my twenties, the biggest decision I had to make was what outfit to buy from Top Shop for my
Friday nights out. Now it’s how to invest money for my kids’ college funds while shouting at the
neighborhood kids to get off my lawn. I mean, when did I become “that woman”? Seriously, life
is just different now, and I’m completely fine with that. It’s just that we face some challenges that we
might not have expected: being an empty nester, making career decisions, or caring for elderly
parents. This can be a difficult time in your life, especially with menopause thrown into the mix.
There are so many life transitions that happen outside of the menopause shit-storm that digging deep
into our coping skills becomes almost a daily requirement. When I started writing my book, I
realized just how hectic my life is. In the beginning I committed to dedicating three solid hours to
writing each day, so that I would stay on track and deliver the book on time. But normal life didn’t
just magically stop. I appear to have become an unpaid, unthanked Uber driver for my kids. Their
crazy schedules have me creating such detailed calendars that I feel like their secretary. On top of
this, I run an online fitness company, and of course, I have my everyday obligations to cook, do
laundry, shop for food, clean the house, help with homework, and be nice (sometimes that’s the most
challenging). I’m pulled in so many different directions that finding enough time for myself, let alone
to write for three solid hours, became almost impossible.
I often found myself staring at a blank page wondering if it really was worth it to find thirty minutes
to type while the potatoes were boiling or asking myself if I should bother my arse to research
protein synthesis for the fifteen minutes while I waited for my kids at the dentist. Already feeling at
maximum capacity, plus menopausing the crap out of my life, I felt a whole new level of stress and
disappointment during this writing process. I’m sure that many of you feel equally stressed out.
One of the reasons midlife has been so closely associated with crisis is that many women start to
have feelings of exhaustion, boredom, or unhappiness at this stage in their life. Even if women are
doing something that previously gave them a sense of happiness and fulfillment, they might
feel the desire to try something new or different, but life is just so busy that it seems impossible.
Then throw in the craziness of menopause, and it’s no wonder that women feel that they are
permanently at war with themselves, their life, and those around them. Might it be that you, too,
are simply trying to keep too many balls in the air?
In addition to the many other symptoms that show up at this time of life, many women start to feel
more insecure, with lower levels of self-esteem and belief in themselves and overwhelming feelings
Five years ago, I was skiing down a moderately easy slope in British Columbia with my husband. We
are both average-to-low-level skiers, so we generally stuck with the easy routes. Then suddenly he
decided that we could veer off the run slightly and we came to what looked to me like a death
drop. Ten years earlier I would have just taken a leap of faith and assumed I could make my way
down, but on this day I froze. Then I had a mild anxiety episode: I freaked out. To my husband’s
humiliation, I yanked off my skis, sat down on in the snow, and slid the whole way down that
big mountainside on my arse, the whole time screaming back to my husband that I would never
forgive him for doing this to me and would never put skis on again. I didn’t get back on skis for the
rest of the holiday; I was just too scared. This was a new phenomenon for me, and I didn’t like it. It
was humiliating and utterly embarrassing.
When did I stop being that fearless athlete ready to take on anything?
Fear and lack of belief in ourselves can also show up in our work. A career woman at the top of the
corporate ladder may be feeling the pressures of work and home life, a woman whose career has
stalled may fear changing direction, and a stay-at-home mother may feel the world is leaving her
behind. How many times have you questioned whether what you’re doing in your career is the right
thing for you, for your family, and for your vision of success? These challenges are real and can
leave women at midlife feeling a huge sense of frustration, which is very stressful. It’s worth taking
the time to ask yourself where you are now in your life, whether you’re happy there, and, if not, what
you’re going to do about it. I found myself in a void, not knowing what to do with my career. I
enjoyed training clients in person, but my passion was dying.
It just so happened that I had to relocate two years ago and give up my in-person fitness business.
This was an opportunity for me to try something else, but I knew I had limited skills for a new career
and wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep my fitness business at my new location. This period coincided
with my deep depression, so the conditions for making such a decision were not ideal. In the end,
even though I am still involved in the fitness business, writing articles and posting online workouts
for my audience, I made the career decision to write this book: about menopause, of course.
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