This is Your Brain on Menopause

I met my husband at Long John Silvers for lunch during the work week.  I ordered the baked tilapia without the mixed vegetables.  I had ordered the dish before and found the vegetables to be limp, overcooked, greasy and disgusting.  We sat down at a table and a server brought us our food.  There were vegetables on my plate.

My eyes began to water, my lip trembled and I began to shake.  My wonderful husband, ever aware of my well-being, immediately noticed something was wrong.

“What’s wrong sweetie?” he asked.

“They put vegetables on my plate,” I said, fighting back the tears.

He was silent for moment. “Well, you don’t have to eat them,” he said gently.

I started sobbing in the middle of a restaurant at rush hour. “I don’t..want them…on my plate” I sobbed. “They’re disgusting…I hate them… I don’t want to look at them.”

He stared at me for a moment, then took a fork and removed the vegetables from my plate without saying a word.

I was like a prepubescent child, angry because my voice had not been heard and kicking and screaming because I couldn’t get my own way.

In fact, there is good evidence to support the association between menopausal women and prepubescent girls.

Prepubescent girls do not produce estrogen, neither do menopausal women.

According to Christiane Northrup, M.D.s best selling book, “The Wisdom of Menopause” the chemical onset of estrogen production in girls at puberty not only radically changes their physical bodies, it quite literally changes their minds.

According to Northrup, estrogen is a hormone that creates a “vision obscuring veil” over our minds.  This chemical veil drives us to mate, reproduce, nurture, protect, and raise children in a stable environment.  Northrup refers to the chemical veil as a fog that allows us to overlook, deny and minimize anything that threatens the stability vital to our reproductive roles.

When the estrogen stops, and the fog of estrogen lifts from our brains, we are no longer capable of overlooking, denying and minimizing anything.  We are, indeed, like a small child, screaming to be heard, demanding recognition and approval, decrying the smallest perceived injustice or inequality. For the first time in our lives, our focus changes from outward to inward.

We simply want what we want, for the first time in our lives and we become a roaring, raging, unstoppable tsunami of change. This is nature’s catalyst, to turn us from the pursuit of pleasing and caring for others to the pursuit of our own care and pleasure.

We are giving birth to ourselves, and birth is a painful, traumatic and messy process, which is out of our control and cannot be rushed.  We cannot control the stages of menopause any more than we can control the processes of labor and birth or the onset of puberty.  We are acted upon, we are not the actors.

But like a ship at sea, with the proper knowledge and skills, we can navigate successfully through the tumultuous, raging sea of menopause, and come out on the other side, whole, well, healed, fulfilled, vibrant, empowered and transformed.

It may take some time and experimentation for us to decide what we actually want.  We may need to re-negotiate relationships or careers that we find no longer fit our needs. We may need to revise our self- image, question our beliefs about ourselves and discover new ones better suited to our changing perceptions of ourselves.

Have you given yourself permission to put yourself first in your life?  Why or why not?

What will be the consequences of choosing not to put yourself first?

Love, Tonjia

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