JUST when I had finally stopped obsessively worrying that I might possibly be offending someone somewhere; just when I had started feeling (almost) comfortable socializing with humans, rather than pets, at dinner parties; just when I had mastered the polite nod, knowing when someone is waving to me and not the person behind me and saying “thank you” when being complimented…. THIS.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Nadine. You never mentioned THIS. Nobody did. Everyone talked about my period! Especially me. (I tend to “over-share” sometimes.) But I was totally ready for that. My mother made sure of it. She had been traumatized as a young girl herself when she one day suddenly started to “hemorrhage” while walking to school. (My Grandmother, due to the modesty of the times, had failed to mention menstruation to her.)
I had my own copy of all four volumes of the “Life Cycle Library.” I was notified about pubic hair, the use of deodorant and the existence of the maxi pad. When Mother Nature came to call, it was no big deal. In fact, I didn’t even bother to stop climbing on the monkey bars at recess. So, when I reentered my classroom, looking like a walking crime scene, I was sort of surprised that my teacher seemed so put out. Clearly, she had not read the “Life Cycle Library” volume 3. Thus, I proceeded to fill her in by presenting a lecture on menstruation. The point is, while certain Neurotypical adults might have been shocked when I got my first period, I myself was not.
But there was no “Life Cycle Library” volume on hot flashes. No mention of hormone levels that having you sobbing when you can’t find socks that match and threatening to run away when someone asks you if you got the mail. Nobody tells you that your metabolism just stops working one day and you can gain five lbs. by watching a Burger King commercial, but that you might sweat it off again at night. Who knew that the hair on your arms would one day disappear and reappear on your chin? Not me! Just what I love best! A surprise! (No I don’t – I like ROUTINE and predictability.)
And there’s an added bonus for those of us who are not just perimenopausal women, but Autistic perimenopausal women. Some us–including me, because I’m lucky like that–also start having sensory challenges again, even if they had faded. Our executive functioning, which may not be so great already, can also take a big hit. And well, two words – mood swings. I’m sorry. But somebody had to tell you. It might as well be me because my social skills aren’t that great anyway.
I also want to tell you this though, you will make through this like you made it through everything else. Really. You’re going to make it. I can’t promise that people who make you wait fifteen minutes to buy shoe polish at Walmart, while they chit chat idly with the only open cashier will make it, but you will. You can believe me. I read all the volumes in the “Life Cycle Library.” And I’m not good at lying, so I don’t bother trying. Good luck. May estrogen be with you.
About the Author, Nadine Silber.