I Know It Was The Blood: The Struggles and Triumphs of Bleeding over 40

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Women over 40 know menopause brings struggles of all sorts. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and stocking up on hormone therapy can be overwhelming. But despite the challenges, there is also a sense of triumph that comes with surviving the blood each month.

I’ll never forget that day. It was my 46th birthday and my body physically notified me of “judgment day” :). Yep, I’m talking about that good ole lady-like friend called, Peri-menopause! 

I actually started experiencing symptoms of peri-menopause on my 45th birthday (something about that day that just rings gloom for me, but that’s another story for another day). I didn’t know what it was at the time, I had just moved to Ghana from the U.S. My whole life was in transition so I wasn’t paying attention to my body as I was high from emotions. You’ll have to read my blog on “My Matatchebo Story” for more on that…

Anyhow, back to my 46th birthday. So my body said, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Today, we come with gifts: hot flashes, vertigo, and mood swings!”

In conversation with my Legend friend, Renée Waters, Founder and Head of Culture of The Renaissance Period, she educated me on peri-menopause and told me to see my doctor.

Well, after months of ignoring her advice, and trying to find my own healing without medical assistance, I gave in. Vertigo convinced me that it was time to get professional help. And low and behold, it was peri-menopause. Confirmed. Sealed. Delivered.

Let’s first define this thing.

Perimenopause is the transition period in a woman’s life when her body gradually begins to produce less estrogen and progesterone, signaling the end of the reproductive years. It typically begins eight to ten years before menopause, but can last anywhere from two to eight years. Common symptoms include irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. 

Note – they did NOT mention vertigo! Because vertigo is not “common” but some women have complained of the symptom. It’s not common enough for medical researchers to do something about it, I suppose. But I digress…

What is the difference between peri-menopause and menopause? 

Peri-menopause is the transition into menopause and usually occurs several years before menopause. It is characterized by irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and decreased libido. Menopause is when a woman has not had a period for 12 consecutive months, and is considered the end of the reproductive years. Menopause is marked by the permanent ending of a woman’s menstrual cycle. 

Now THAT’S out of the way, I was an emotional wreck! 

I was confused. 

I was angry. 

I was depressed. 

Let’s just say that I didn’t take the news very well. So all of my years of working on myself, changing my negative mindset, stepping more into my healing gifts, meditating and growing closer to The Most High, packing up my entire life and moving to another continent to learn more about my family history… all of that self-improvement work did NOT prepare me for this?!!! 

I remember my very first slogan when I started my first full-time entrepreneurship venture was, “My past does not define me, it refines me.” Oh boy was I totally disappointed on my 46th birthday to learn how much malarky that was! My past did not refine me well enough to deal with the emotional turmoil of peri-menopause.

Everything that I knew about me was disappearing. I was literally having brain zaps and memory loss! It was so bad that I almost burnt down my kitchen because I FORGOT I was cooking!

It’s actually kind of a funny story so I’ll break now to tell you 🙂

The ancient text tells us that laughter is medicine to the soul. It’s actually my go-to soul healing tool when I’m having a bad day.

Afrikana Stories

#StoryTime

I’m not a big breakfast eater. Typically, I’m awake by 2 am so I’m not really thinking about breakfast, other than my morning cup of coffee!

This particular morning, I was peri-menopausing, which often caused increased appetite urges! I decided to boil some eggs. While the eggs were a-boiling, I was working on editing a video. 

I’m a multi-tasker, or I USED to be before the P word. You would always find me doing more than one thing at one time. I’m washing dishes, while I have the washing machine running with a load of clothes, a movie playing in the background, while a video is downloading that I had just finished editing. That’s my free content-creating, living-alone, lifestyle. I come and do as I please 🙂

So, this particular morning, I put on the boiled eggs and forgot about it. Literally. It wasn’t until I heard a loud POP that made me run to the kitchen. And when I opened that kitchen door, the entire kitchen was covered in smoke and burnt egg pieces! The smell immediately took over my whole house and it smelt like a huge FART!

What could I do? I forgot about the eggs. Even with the timer on, I heard it and dismissed it because I didn’t know where the sound was coming from. Instead of getting upset, I went into this uncontrollable laughter because no matter what I did at that point, my house STILL smelled like a ton of farts! That was funny! 

If you enjoyed this story and it made you laugh, buy your girl a cup of coffee! Afrikana Stories LOVE to drink coffee while she writes 🙂

Ok, let’s get back to the point 🙂 Storytime over… The Triumph

A little over a year later, I am now sitting on the other side of that traumatic experience of identifying the root of my symptoms. The greatest challenge then came vertigo. If you don’t know what vertigo is, it’s when you’re dizzy. It feels like your brain is inside a salad spinner. Your brain is moving round and round, but your body is still in one place. You’re imbalanced. There’s typically no pain with this experience, it’s just extremely uncomfortable.

I learned how to cope with it, what provokes it, how to comfort myself during the hurricane/storm, how to ride the waves (literally). I found my superpower in creation!

I realized that my body is transitioning and there’s nothing I can do about that. BUT, the things I can control, I will control in order to make this transition more palpable (to me AND to others). 

When vertigo happens, I pull out my laptop and create something. I learn a new skill. I design a product for my store. I simply create. But it’s not just ANY creation. I’ve NEVER created like this before! My skill set level has increased phenomenally! 

I discovered gifts I didn’t know I had before. I discovered a part of me that is unstoppable. She’s a true badass. She’s strong. She’s resilient. She’s capable of anything. 

I feel super empowered to conquer anything while bleeding. I noticed these skill sets aren’t as powerful during my non-bleeding days. The peaceful days, which are becoming less and less every month now, are blissful days. Non-creating days. Rest days.

But a few days before I bleed, the vertigo shows up, and so does the Universe with new creations, new gifts, new skills, new ideas, new partnerships, new relationships, and an overflow of support from my spiritual guidance team!

I’m LOVING this experience of creating, but I am HATING the symptoms that come along with it. Truth be told, would I be able to create as I do now had it not been for peri-menopause? I don’t know, but I’m glad I was able to find peace in this process. And so will you!

At the end of the day, if you have a womb, you have gifts beyond your imagination to aide you in this thing called life. In every stage, and in every transition, you have the power to create and re-create a version of YOU to endure.

So be patient with your journey. Be faithful to it. Be honest with yourself and your feelings. Don’t ignore the symptoms. And seek professional help for goodness sake!

I mentioned earlier about my Legend friend, Renée Waters … well, here we are together on my new podcast, The Eve Series, talking about her newest venture, The Renaissance Period. We both share our experiences of finding support during peri-menopause and endometriosis. Warning: Strong Language, for adults ONLY.

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About Renée

Renée is the Founder and Chief Culture Officer for The Renaissance Period. In her career, she has consulted on growth strategies for a leading fashion brand and a Fortune 500 technology firm, directed the investors communications for a mergers & acquisitions advisory, managed inside sales efforts for two professional services firms, and recruited C-level executives in the tech, consumer, luxury and fashion industries. She has also served as a contributing editor to fashion industry publications in the UK. 

My story begins when my periods were so severe, I was avoiding school. I was always told, “oh you just have bad periods” and handed some paracetamol. My mother mentioned that she had gone through it, and so had my grandmother – but I never heard the word endometriosis until 2006. 10 years after I had my first period, I finally had an answer for what I always knew was more than a “bad period”. I had previously been chastised by a doctor during my appointments, misdiagnosed, and left with unbearable pain, shame, anger, and mental illness. Since then, I have had 5 endometrial surgeries (for removal of cysts, tissue, and to explore new activity) in the US, UK, and Netherlands.

As there is NO cure for endometriosis there have been several options to manage the condition and lifestyle. Of course, as this conversation was taboo, I had no idea what others were doing until slowly the topic became approachable. I had to rely on my gynaecological teams and some wisdom from my elders to cope. During this time, I was overprescribed painkillers, overwhelmed by hormonal/contraceptive options, and remedies were constantly failing.

In 2020, after giving birth to my daughter and completing breastfeeding, my menstrual cycle re-commenced. The products of which I was accustomed, or my heavy flow were getting less real estate in my local pharmacy and grocery store, either due to demand or supply chain issues. I was becoming more frustrated with my continued purchase of period products that were inadequate to my needs.

I looked for alternative products online but could not physically review them. After speaking with a community of others like me who demanded better solutions, I began my research. Then I realised my daughter would have to go through this process when she is of age. How would I like to see her navigate this landscape? Thus, began my gestation period….

 …and, in 2022 The Renaissance Period was born, taking an old concept and marrying it with a socially conscious mission. Thusly named, as renaissance means rebirth in French. The French (feminine) word for born is ‘nee’, so Renée means “reborn”. Though influenced by my name this movement belongs to all of us. This is OUR renaissance.

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