First things first: Why didn't anyone tell me this was going to happen? Why isn't this a widely discussed topic in our work lives, churches, clubs, and community conversations? Why isn't it included in "the talk", right alongside menstruation, sex, birth control, and menopause?
If it is discussed, what should we call it? The truth is, so many of us have been caught completely off guard by this thing - this middle-life turned upside-down and kicking us upside the head and catching us unaware.
Hey, Younger Woman! Here's What's Coming Down the Pike:
If you are in your teens, 20's, or 30's, let me be the one to break it to you gently: Middle-age gets rough, especially if you juggle a home, children, husband, job, and 21st century western First World living and culture.
Your doctor likely won't let you in on this either, which is weird. My (male) doctor said, "That's not a thing." I politely replied, "Okay" and took my business elsewhere. There's really no use arguing with the uninitiated; that would be like arguing the finer points of childbirth with a man.
My Story of Hormones, Middle Age, Stress, and the Mess
A psychologist friend patiently listened to me as did my RN sister-in-law, and both wondered aloud if this was more hormonal than anything else. Regardless of what is being taught to physicians, there is hard evidence that stress adversely affects our hormones, and middle-age women tend to carry plenty of it. In my case, my body was also breaking down the fallout of three children nearly dying, a son's failed wedding, my husband's cancerous tumor diagnosis and removal plus his Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, the day to day management of our brain-injured son, my brother's precarious cancer removal surgeries, and interpersonal extended family turmoil.
I put all of that in writing and stand back to look at it and think, "Well, duh! Of course you were falling apart!" But as you probably have observed in your own life, we don't always take stock of a stressful situation in the midst of it. We just do what we have to do and move on until the storm passes.
How to Know When It's Time to Make Changes
Clearly, when I read all that I had been living and managing (plus 8 kids!), it's easy to diagnose the problem, or at least understand where those pesky symptoms of anxiety and weight gain had come from. But we're not always so good at diagnosing ourselves.
I'm thinking that if you landed here to read this series, you have an inkling that something isn't quite right. Is now your time to make a change? Ask yourself:
- Am I managing everything that is in my life as well as I did six months or a year ago?
- Do I feel sick or overwhelmed when even a small change is made to my routine?
- Is my body showing signs (weight gain, hair loss, acne along the chin line) that it is carrying more tension than is obviously healthy for me?
If you can see that it's time to do something to change the trajectory of your health, stick around for my last post in this short series. You can even scroll down and subscribe to get it delivered right to you so you don't forget. There is hope, I promise!
Read the rest of the posts in this series: