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Daniela Miller

We’re going on an (actual) adventure

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Day 1

My husband Tony and I are about to head off to LA this week, from where we will take a 3 week road trip through California, Nevada and Arizona. We have both travelled quite extensively, both together and individually, but this is nevertheless a big adventure for us that ticks “seeing the giant Redwoods and Sequoias” off both of our bucket lists.

It all happened quite spontaneously and impulsively. One evening in February, Tony told me that he had booked two return flights to LA for June. This was an anticipated quiet time work wise for him when he could fit in three weeks away (which doesn’t happen often) and he decided to just go ahead and book the flights. At the time my reaction to these news was swaying between excitement and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good adventure but the older I get the more anxious I seem to get. I’m not sure if it’s simply the fact that with age comes experience and with experience unfortunately an extended knowledge of all the things that could possibly go wrong or if it’s just these bloody hormones. Anyway, anxiety tends to ride shot gun with me quite frequently nowadays. 

In addition, a road trip is not exactly my preferred method of travelling ever since I had a panic attack while driving on a motorway almost 10 years ago. Why and what exactly happened back then would require a whole blog post of its own but suffice to say that I myself don’t drive on motorways anymore and I don’t particularly enjoy being a passenger in a car on a motorway, either. 

Anyway, so the flights were booked and we now had to put together a route and an itinerary, which we did over the following weekend. We picked, quite intuitively, everything that interested us and that was  doable within the given time, and very quickly, an obvious route started to take shape. I was particularly excited to discover that the itinerary we put together meant that we would end up in Las Vegas for my 47th birthday. Way to go! The scales started to tip towards excitement rather than anxiety. 

Then, in the last few months, my perimenopausal symptoms started stepping it up a gear. I’ve been experiencing horrible mood swings and random outbursts of that “hot rage” I mentioned before, and suddenly, my main concern became less to do with the trip itself or even the driving on motorways but whether or not I would be able to not let my hormones ruin this trip for us. Because when I’m in “one of those arsehole moods” as Tony, quite appropriately, refers to them, I could be in the most beautiful environment and I don’t think it would make much of a difference.

What’s quite interesting is that despite Tony not having consulted me about my hormonal cycle when booking the flights (I do generally try and book holidays to coincide with inner spring and summer), it turns out that we head off just at the end of my inner winter, which couldn’t be more ideal. However, as we’re away for three weeks, my inner autumn will eventually catch up with us and as my hormones have not really been abiding by seasonal rules in the last few months, anything could happen at any time.

“If you know it’s just your hormones that are causing these feelings, can’t you work with that?” Tony asked me the other day. It’s a reasonable enough question from a male perspective, I guess; and as someone practicing yoga and meditation, a part of me asks myself the same question.

“Feeling possessed” is the best way I can describe how it feels when one of these moods comes over me. It seems to come out of nowhere and takes me by surprise, whereas “real feelings” tend to develop and allow at least some space to adjust my stance before meeting them full on. This shit feels like being barrelled under a wave catching you from behind. One moment you’re happily waving at your family sitting on the beach, the next one your desperately trying to come up for air.

But I will try. I’m determined to not let my hormones ruin this adventure for us.

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Daniela Miller

What the fuck is going on?

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Contrary to popular belief, menopause itself actually only lasts one day as it’s defined as the moment when a woman hasn’t had her period for 12 months. The time leading up to this moment, is called perimenopause and can last from a few months (lucky you!) to a decade or more (please no!). It’s the transitional period in which your estrogen levels go on a rollercoaster ride alongside the decline in ovarian function. From what I hear from women past menopause the “fun” isn’t over afterwards but I don’t want to look that far ahead yet and am trying to take this one step at a time.

Having periods and a monthly hormonal cycle has never been exactly enjoyable but after years of cycle tracking I managed to live quite harmoniously with it and even reap some benefits (such as the deep wisdom and insight that can occur just before the bleed). However, since hitting my mid forties, it’s become a bit of a bumpy ride. What was once a predictable, reliable and therefore manageable hormonal fluctuation has become highly unpredictable with sudden and extreme hormonal spikes and troughs. Suddenly there are no smooth transitions anymore between the inner seasons but the weather of my hormonal landscape can change as abruptly as a summer storm ruining your picnic.

What that means in practice is that, as my husband put it, I can go from “sex goddess to evil witch” within a matter of minutes, which is as confusing for him as it is for me. And let’s not even speak of the hot rage that is provoked by the slightest of inconveniences and looks to other people like watching a mad woman and feels to me like being possessed.

Anyway, I hope you get the picture. There are physical symptoms too, which I won’t bore you with but let’s just say that they don’t help the mental and emotional symptoms. And before someone feels the need to comment on all the products and things that can help, thank you very much but I’m on it! However, while they can indeed help, they don’t eliminate or “fix” this natural developmental phase in a woman’s life and as much as I’d rather not experience this, I believe that there must be some growth and wisdom to be found in all this too. After all, it’s the manure (shit to you and me) that makes the garden of life grow and bloom.

So with all this said, this blog will be a place for me to share and reflect on my experiences navigating this period in my life: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Enjoy the ride…

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