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Midlife and Menopause

Personal Stories of Menopause and Midlife


"I was sweating with the big girls now."

Dr. Charlotte Loppie

My experience of menopause has been largely shaped by my bi-cultural (Aboriginal/European) background. Many indigenous cultures view health as holistic and approach experiences like menopause from a naturalistic perspective. Yet, Western culture takes a somewhat more disease/deficiency view of this life change.  I entered perimenopause straddling these two worldviews and keeping my balance was not always easy.

It began during the winter of 2002; after almost six years of reading and research about the menopausal transition, I awoke one frigid, December night in a blistering sweat. Quite suddenly it seemed like some internal register had jacked up the temperature in my pajama top.  I quickly removed the offending garment and lay there feeling an odd sense of elation.  I had arrived -- my first hot flash. I was sweating with the big girls now; I was a crone, on my journey toward the wisdom and maturity of elderhood -- corny to be sure but very fulfilling.

More than two years has passed since my first "trial by fire." I have finally arrived. The journey, I fear, was not always as serene and joyful as I previously had imagined.  The lack of sleep almost did me in and the loss of control left me feeling quite weary.  I am still among the ranks of countless flashing, sweating, tired middle-aged women.  Yet, I can easily flip that coin and tell you about the clarity of my vision these days; about the big changes I have made in my most intimate relationships, of the self-love and self-worth I finally found, somewhere in my tired eyes, my aging face, and my tormented body. 

Excerpted from Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, © 2006, Boston Women's Health Book Collective.

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