Divorce is difficult enough to go through without throwing something else in the mix over which you have no control – namely, menopause. Menopause is nothing to be ashamed of – countless women have gone through it for centuries. It’s just something that is part of being a woman. But it doesn’t make things any easier when you’re already facing a difficult time.
What can you do to make this time in your life a little easier while you are also going through a divorce? Much of what I’ve learned is in hindsight.
1. Visit your healthcare provider: Talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy. For many women, HRT is not an option. This is something I stayed away from because of the high incidence of cancer in my family. If you are concerned about a link between HRT and the occurrence of cancer, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can also provide antidepressants to deal with the mood swings.
2. Explore different options to deal with mood swings and stress: Physical exercise has been shown to release endorphins, those ‘feel good’ hormones. WebMD states, “When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.” Walking is the cheapest form of exercise and can be done just about anywhere. Yoga is also an exercise that relieves stress and provides a feeling of peace. There are many different herbal supplements to try as well. This website is a good resource: https://www.womentowomen.com/menopause-perimenopause/five-steps-for-natural-menopause-relief-2/
3. Talk to someone: Many employers have EAP benefits (employee assistance programs) that provide a predetermined number of free visits to a mental health professional. If your employer does not provide that, seek out a trusted friend or speak to your pastor or clergy member. It seems to me that our thoughts lose their negative effect once we voice them. When left alone, our negative thoughts can rattle around in our heads and grow bigger and bigger and do more harm. For me, it helps to journal.
4. Be accountable to someone: Whether it’s a friend, therapist or clergy member, someone needs to walk with you through this time. There needs to be another person who will help you put things into perspective. You will need someone to help you work through some big decisions. You can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. Find a support group to help you through this time.
5. Realize that there are many changes occurring all at the same time and be gentle to yourself: You will be dealing with lawyers (both his and yours), court dates, discovery, time off of work, property division, etc. There is a great deal of stress involved in a divorce. It’s easy to let things go – eating properly, sleeping, etc. Take time to be gentle to yourself. Take a walk in the park, bake a batch of cookies, read a good book, take a nap. You are not expected to be Superwoman when you are going through two major life changes at the same time! Allow yourself to have a day of doing absolutely nothing. Need to stay in bed and cry? Do it. Need a day of purging your home of all ex’s stuff? Do it.
6. Lower your expectations: Don’t expect ex or his lawyer to be kind to you. Don’t expect yourself to have all the answers. Don’t expect the judge to understand your emotions. There will be many rotten days as you walk through the divorce. Don’t expect every day to be sunshine and puppies. Your body is changing and your life is changing. Give yourself grace.
7. Do Your Homework: You know that your body is changing. Do your homework – talk to your doctor, research on the internet, talk to friends who have experienced menopause. I just signed up for a series of lectures through Myjob presented by Red Hot Mamas (http://redhotmamas.org/). Find out as much as you can about menopause, its symptoms and how to deal with these changes (http://redhotmamas.org/menopause-a-z/survival-tips/). The more you know about how menopause affects you, the more you can control how you are feeling.
You cannot control your ex, his lawyer, the justice system, etc. Pay attention to what you can control and let those things be one less distraction as you walk through the divorce. Stay tuned . . . .