I cast about for the clock on the nightstand. 1:38am. My heart wants to jump out of my chest. This would make sense if I were coming out of a nightmare, but lately my dreams have been stubbornly inaccessible. Experience has me tear off the blankets, and then, there it is: first the heat that runs through me from my toes to my head, followed shortly by its opposite, a chill. It's maybe thirty minutes before I can get back to sleep, not so long, really, except for the fact that I am awakened again in similar fashion three times before dawn.
When doctor discuss menopause (but they don't! - there is surprisingly scant information on and off the internet about menopause), they always mention the mood swings. I read about mood swings and nod, irritated, because if nothing else, having one's sleep chronically disrupted does no favors to mood.
Menopause is a lonely experience. For one thing, its symptoms serve each and every time to remind you that you are old enough to be going through menopause, and not just old enough, but also objectively old. The symptoms themselves are unpleasant - here I'll add thinning hair to the lot - and unlike in pregnancy there is no positive outcome to counterbalance the discomfort. There will be no baby for my trouble. There will be only the certainty that I am done with all that.
And although I may have believed for years that I am done with all that, menopause has a finality that belief lacks.
I wonder why as a culture we seem so embarrassed by the idea of menopause. Is it really something that needs to be discussed in whispers, and only by women? Why is information so hard to come by? Why is there not more research into its symptomatology and its course?
This I do know: The way we skirt around menopause makes it an even lonelier experience than it already is.