The dog looks at me hopefully. Trouble is, I can’t remember if I fed him already. Or is it that I haven’t taken him out yet today? I have a clear memory of getting his food, filling his bowl with water, and placing it on the kitchen floor, but was that today or yesterday morning?
Recently in a restaurant, Jeff took my hand and prayed over our meal. Moments later, before taking my first bite, I asked if he was going to pray over our meal. Needless to say, he asked if I was okay. Okay, define okay. I’m here. It’s today. What do I have to do or say or jump through to determine if I’m okay?
These kinds of memory lapses have been increasing as I travel through perimenopause. I walk into a room and forget why I’m there, which happens all the time. I put names and phone numbers in my blackberry but for the life of me can’t recall who these people are nor why I have their name in my phone.
My issues with menopause, which everyone who knows me is aware that I have diagnosed as “mental-pause” can have me look at a lamp and forget the word for it. I have called the dogs in by the names of my kids. I am for the most part, a work-at-home mom, which helps because fortunately it is my two dogs, Sam and Bailey who would have the greatest stories about my mental-pause days (daze).
Things like the hot tea I made three hours ago that is still sitting on the pedestal at the one-cup-at-a-time coffee maker we have. Or the cup of tea I roam around two floors looking for only to find the cup washed and in the sink drain with no recollection whatsoever as to whether or not I made tea, drank it and washed my cup or if perhaps, I never even made it in the first place.
Then there’s email – I have checked my email archives trying to remember if I responded to someone on a particular issue from days ago. And there are days when I just stay in my pjs and work with my laptop in my bed. Something I would never have done 10 years ago. I can go all day till around 1 pm and not even think about food. The next day I’m hungry every 15 minutes.
I think the most difficult is that I can be angry or in tears so easily. I can have trouble getting an extension cord unplugged from the outlet and actually sit in the floor and sob about it. My poor dogs don’t know what to think, but they faithfully come to where I am and sit with me during my “moments”.
Or sometimes if Jeff doesn’t answer his cell phone right away, I feel angry and abandoned. I have even told him so. Or at least I think I have. A benefit to mental-pause is that my husband is learning that I definitely cannot read his mind when most days I may be discovered actually searching for mine.
Our brains need estrogen, but as those levels decrease, are we doomed to live in a state of forgetfulness? No. According to Barbara Strauch, health and science editor of The New York Times, many of the stereotypes of the aging brain are wrong, and in reality, our problem-solving ability is far better in mid life than in our 20s. But while menopause is “an enormous bumpy road” memory-wise, according to Strauch, our adaptable brains function just as well — if not better — after menopause. Another benefit of the aging brain? Well-being peaks in later years. Now if I can only remember that.Regardless of this strange season of life, the prognosis for survival is good. The better news is there are support groups if that is something that you think could be helpful. There is also a host of interesting articles and books on the subject that can make you feel a little more “normal” in this otherwise abnormal state. Menopause can be a good time in life to look forward to getting older, which means you will be through all the symptoms both known and unknown and the overall discomfort.Sharing this article with the special people in your life may help them understand that you are still you and that you will get “okay” again – you just aren’t exactly sure when. It can help us to also remember our own moms and smile at some things we may have thought about behavior from them that seemed a little out-of-the-ordinary. So have fun and enjoy being in a new character role occasionally. After all, variety can be a spice to life ;)Common symptoms of menopause include:
- Heart pounding or racing
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Skin flushing
- Sleeping problems (insomnia)
Other symptoms of menopause may include:
- Decreased interest in sex, possibly decreased response to sexual stimulation
- Forgetfulness (in some women)
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Mood swings including irritability, depression, and anxiety
- Urine leakage
- Vaginal dryness and painful sexual intercourse
- Vaginal infections
- Joint aches and pains
- Irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Realtor, Writer, Wife & Mom