WARNING: Mid-Life AFAB Ladyhealth Content!
Please read that title again before deciding to proceed! YOU ARE DULY WARNED.
It seems that the experience of perimenopause is vastly varied amongst the assigned-female-at-birth worldwide. It is mostly un-studied by medical science. Medicine is like, "Ladies, what the actual fuck, the data is all over the place, we are just going to not study you, good luck. Please don't kill me."
I thought I would tell you a little about my experience of perimenopause, in case, like me, you are stumbling blind in the maelstrom of emotional and physical panic that strikes when your hormones flip. Anecdotes are all we got. Medicine gave up. I shall now anecdote on you.
I don't get periods very often now - once every three months or so, in the winter once ever four months. It's not regular enough to really say how regular it is. I got my period at age twelve, which used to be young, at the time when I got my first period, in the 1980s. Now it seems that is not considered a young age at which to begin menstruating. But since the 1980s, I have been bleeding and enjoying the accompanying mood insanity every 28 days like clockwork, until a few years ago, when it all went Pete Tong, as the UK folx used to say.
I had hoped that, when I started getting periods less frequently, their accompanying hilarious reality-warping emotional effects would charmingly decrease and evaporate, just sweetly going away.
WELL, THAT IS NOT HAPPENING, MY FRIENDS.
Instead, they're multiplying, exponentially. I do get to enjoy longer stints of relative emotional "stability" (which is placed in quotation marks because of just how relative they are, impacted as they are by Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACEs] and those experiences' resultant Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [CPTSD]) in between. But when they hit, they're genuinely a hundred or more times as intense as my previous monthly terrors.
Everything makes me cry. Nothing makes me cry - I just cry, out of actual nowhere, sudden incapacitating spasms of dire misery. And/or I fly into the most incandescent of rages, with or without inspiration. If inspiration is present, the rage is maximalized, but a cause is not required. No external stimuli is necessary. Rage mode just ignites spontaneously at random.
So far I have been spared hot flashes - in our family, all of those are endured by Tiffany, who has been living through "surgical menopause" since her gender transition surgery back before the pandemic started. Due to her elevated risk of stroke, she cannot use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - so now she simply has neither testosterone nor estrogen, and the removal of all of these hormones from her body has led to a cascade of health disasters for her. She would do it again, even knowing these disasters were imminent, because the gender euphoria is worth it - it is worth it for her to live as who she truly is. But the change in her body triggered her already-overactive immune system to attack more of her, resulting in rheumatoid arthritis and a cavalcade of other disabling chronic conditions, including powerful hot flashes. With the loss of testosterone, Tiffany lost some rage, but also gained devastating self-doubt, an emotion testosterone masks wonderfully.
The rage stays with me in sleep.
Last night, for example, served me up an epically-violent rage dream.
In the dream, a villainous acquaintance of mine, who did me very wrong a few years ago, showed up at a large party I had been enjoying at someone-or-other's rich and well-appointed manor. I fled her through the party, from room to room, but she wouldn't leave me alone. Catching up to me, facing the same direction as I was, she tried to clothesline me, presenting the gift of her left arm across my throat. I captured her left wrist in my right hand and arm-barred her left shoulder, then bit down hard into her forearm, breaking skin, tasting blood. She threw her head back to scream, giving my right hand the generous gift of her hair, which I wrapped around my fist and yanked back. I hip-checked her and fell on top of her, knocking the wind from her body as I slammed her head into the marble tile floor, again and again, until she stopped moving. It took six slams, I remember. Just six.
Just a dream! Ha, ha! Ah, ladies in mid-life and our amusing quirks.
When I finally do get a period, I frantically re-inventory all of my interactions and emotions from the preceding fortnight to assess whether I did anything really nutso that anyone would consider out-of-character for me. Fortunately, most people who have only a casual association with me give me a wide margin there in any case. Hooray for maintaining a public persona that's ambiguously emotionally disturbed! Ha!
This information is furnished for your reference, in case you are drowning in similar tidal waves of hormonal chaos. Maybe we can catch hold of each other's hands in the waves and make a raft of ourselves and help each other stay afloat.
Last night's Phoole & the Gang episode reassures me that I can still put on a show and have fun with Phooligans while withstanding the hormonal-emotional nonsense-barrage. On camera, you can hardly see me raging or panicking or dying inside. I'm just breathing past all of it and making myself stay present with people. CPTSD brings with it the most intense expertise at dissociating - leaving the body, emotionally, and existing solely in the mind and imagination - so I'm reassured about my ability to anchor and focus in a physical present. I hope that stays and increases. You can verify the experience, and help me verify it too, by rewinding the show at phoole.com/rewind if you like.
I promise not to bite you at a party, or smash your head into a marble tile floor.*
* One exception applies. I can't promise that particular person that I won't do that. I just can't guarantee with absolute certainty that it won't happen. I am in MMA training after all. She was a rocket-bitch to me, and once tried to choke me in real life.