23 Jun 2016
When Perimenopause Meets Middle School: A Survival Guide
My client, Lisa, is in a tailspin. She’s just entering the throes of perimenopause. Sleepless nights, hideous mood swings, crying jags at odd times and crushing fatigue are making her life hell.
And to top it all off, there’s her once-darling 7th-grade daughter, Meredith.
Meredith is a ticking time bomb most days. She’s prone to go off about anything and nothing on a moment’s notice. And Lisa has no idea what to do.
Lisa and Meredith are at the intersection of menopause and middle school. And it ain’t pretty.
Many women of our generation postponed having children until relatively late in life so they could build careers. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the birthrate for women ages 35 through 39 rose steadily from 1979 to 2007 (though that number has slipped some since). Meanwhile, the birthrate in 2013 (the latest data available) for women ages 40 through 44 was 10.4 births per 1,000 women, the highest rate reported in more than three decades.
If you waited to have kids until your 30’s, there’s a REALLY good chance that you’re either in this position or you’ll be there soon.
Like Lisa, you may be at a loss for ideas. The first step is to take action and do some research. As the parent, it’s up to you to navigate this storm. Even when you don’t feel like it.
Having an understanding that the two of you are going through many of the same emotional swings can be really helpful in bringing peace to your home. Both of you are having huge shifts in hormonal levels (in girls, estrogen levels increase eight-fold during puberty!)
Want to dial down the drama? Here are some survival tips for days when it feels like you and your little darling are turning your family upside down.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Have an honest talk with your daughter about what’s going on with YOU. Let her know you can relate to what she’s experiencing. As a bonus, know that she will thank you later when she hits perimenopause!
- Empathize. Recognize that even though you were a teenager once, chances are you didn’t have to deal with the kinds of pressure today’s kids experience. Yes, we dealt with mean girls and cliques. But no one could bash you on social media. Getting into college was not the anxiety-producing experience that it is now. We weren’t overscheduled and under-rested. Today’s teens report much higher levels of anxiety and stress than our generation.
- Be quick to call a time-out. When an argument starts to spiral out of control and you sense that you may say things you’ll regret, walk away and cool off. Revisit the issue later when everyone’s had a chance to calm down.
- Check your stress level. The physical symptoms you’re experiencing combined with the day-to-day stress of work and home life can be recipe for a short fuse. Figure out what your top 3 priorities are and consider letting the rest go. Your sanity will thank you for this.
- Remember, this is a season. The hormonal chaos will eventually die down for both of you and if you can keep a sense of humor your relationship will survive and thrive.
- Get support! If you’re looking to connect with women who are in the same situation, join my Hormone Harmony Club. You’ll get answers to your questions AND a great group of ladies to hang out with.
Lisa decided that her best bet was to start by controlling her symptoms so she could be less reactive. We tested her hormones and re-worked her lifestyle to help her body into better balance. I also helped her create some strategies to manage stress and say yes to less so she could focus on herself and her relationships.
Not everyone’s symptoms or experiences are the same, and no magic solution exists. But as more women find themselves in hormone hell, it’s good to know that there are options to avoid at least some of the fireworks — ours, anyway.
Because as far as I know, teenage drama is here to stay!
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.
Find out more about working with her at https://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.