If you are circling, swimming in, or exiting menopause, the negative slant that the world at large puts on The Change can feel so personal when it’s happening to you. When people refer to menopause as The Curse, they’re not just talking about the 34 Harvard Medical Review listed symptoms rattling your world. They’re also referring to the media neglect and public ridicule aspect of the whole situation as well. Great.
I began World Menopause Month searching for essays written by my favorite story teller, Nora Ephron. Surely she had something incredibly clever to say on the subject. But do you know what I found? Nothing. I bought her book on aging, I Feel Bad About My Neck. It’s an excellent collection of essays about getting old, but there is only 1 perfunctory mention of menopause. Nora’s synopsis of the whole affair recounts, “I kept getting sent books that were called things like The Joy of Menopause and I just wanted to throw the book at the wall.” Was this really the only direct mention of menopause I would get in all of the great Ephron’s book on maturing? But then maybe this was more of Nora’s genius, the summary of her experience put simply – “I just wanted to throw the book at the wall.”
Next in my research, I watched a Ted Talk about what happens to a woman’s brain as a result of menopause. It was horrifying. Listening to this lecture felt like a direct attack against my health and wellbeing. Flight or fight response kicked in and I wanted to turn it off immediately. I watched it twice.
The most distressing fact of the study was that women’s brains change significantly during and for the 10 years following menopause. Dr. Mosconi found that “brain energy” decreased by 30%. I took a breath and slowly began to rationalize the findings. First of all, let’s say it’s true. Thinking of all the things women juggle their entire lives, a woman’s 70% sounded more capable than the competition’s entirety. Come to think of it, this loss of brain energy after menopause may be the only time in life when women are really equal to men.
Even with this inspiring spin, I was so disturbed by this 30% shutdown post menopause that I came up with a theory . After a certain age, most women receive the wonderful gift of not caring about the many things that wasted our time earlier in life. I would say that the “things” in question definitely occupied at least 30% of brain energy reflected in the study of pre-menopausal women. I think the big news here is that we found scientific proof that women are so evolved, we literally shut down that part of our brain when we run out of fucks to give.
Satisfied with this interpretation, I went back and watched the video for a third time. I was able to make it to the grand reveal that, although our brain energy does decrease by 30% during menopause, our cognitive function remains the same, throughout The Change and beyond. Thank god. Not a brain-death sentence.
My World Menopause Month research resulted in a paradox of discoveries that ranged from female emancipation to the imminent total collapse of your lady parts. The more depressing details reminded me of when I was pregnant and bombarded with alarming information and unsolicited advice that would send me into a tailspin. I think now, what I thought then, that I won’t make bad things that may happen a cornerstone of my daily worry. I’ll just take it as it comes. If I dwell on it too much, it just makes me want to throw a book at the wall.