Living with Perimenopause: Part Two

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
― Ernest Hemingway

If I could give only one piece of wisdom, share only one thing that’s had a tremendous impact on my mental and physical heath.  I’d tell you to get outside and go walking.  I know this isn’t always feasible.  I know that life happens, weather happens, and our own bodies are not always very cooperative, but walking was my gateway to feeling better.  It’s one of my keystones.  Without it, I feel like all the other things I try to do to help myself, tend to unravel.

My goals are simple.  I go outside, pick a direction, and walk for fifteen minutes.  When my time is up, I go home.  Fifteen minutes out.  Fifteen minutes back.  That’s it.  That’s how I get in a half hour of walking.  I can usually fit walking into my life 3-4 mornings a week.

If I could give you TWO pieces of advice, I’d tell you to get more sleep.

  1. Walk
  2. Sleep

Yes, yes, YES!  I can already hear your excuses.  You’re a special snowflake.  You don’t need the same amount of sleep as everyone else.  Human adults need approximately 8 hours of sleep per day.  Children need more.  But…you’re special.  You can live on NO sleep and make up for your lack of shuteye by drinking copious amounts of coffee, tea, and/or energy drinks.  You’re not going to listen to me, because I’ve been there.  I’ve been making excuses for decades!  Too much to do.  To little time to do it in. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” I said.

And then…I started perimenopause.  My body felt foreign.  My mind seemed to shift. Everything I thought I knew about being me…changed.

If you’ve ever suffered an injury, you’ll notice you feel tired, more so than usual. Why? Because you need sleep to heal.  Children also need more sleep, more than adults, because their bodies are growing. You need sleep to grow.  Healing injuries is a form of growth. Makes sense, right?  Anytime your body is in construction mode, it needs hours to get the maintenance work done.  There isn’t a magic wand fix.  Your body can only do so much.  It’s not as if you can’t heal during the day, but there’s a LOT going on while you’re awake.  Most of your body’s construction work takes place while you’re resting.sam_1629

I’ve been regularly depriving my body of much-needed sleep for a long time.  Decades.  I was in retail management for nearly 20 years.  In my experience, most managers are sleep deprived.  They live on caffeine and adrenaline.

When I started experiencing the symptoms of perimenopause, everything came crashing down on me, all of my years of trying to fit 28 hours in a 24 hour day stopped.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I felt like a zombie.  I felt like I was losing my mind!

For one thing, I wasn’t sleeping as deeply as I did in the past.  Every little noise woke me up.  I’d have a hot flash and THAT would wake me up.  I felt like I was constantly waking up.

So, let’s do some math.

If I go to bed late and get up early, allowing 5-6 hours beddy-bye time, and then those few precious hours get eaten up with perimenopausal tossing and turning…guess how long it will take before Juli goes crazy.  There’s a reason why sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture!  In addition to this dilemma, my body is going through some serious changes. Plus, it’s not as young as it used to be.  All those aches and pains… Yeah, Juli’s body is definitely in “construction mode.”

What does this mean?  Sleep is now a VERY real necessity.  I can’t play games with the clock, not anymore.  I HAVE to get enough sleep!!  Sleep is another keystone.  I can’t possibly feel healthy without it.

If I want to get enough sleep, I have to go to bed earlier.  It’s simple math.  If I want to STAY asleep, I have to eliminate as many distractions as I can.  A cool, dark bedroom helps, but I was already doing that.  And still waking up.  Slept with a fan on.  Still woke up. I reluctantly bought some earplugs.


It took a few weeks to get used to them.  They were uncomfortable, even though they’re made of soft foam.  But, they work.  I need to use TWO alarm clocks, an obnoxious cat, and my hubby to wake me up  in the morning.  The earplugs block out almost everything.  But they do work!

Now that I’m getting enough sleep, I no longer feel like I’m losing my mind.  Sleep has helped tremendously with my battle with depression.  Even my aches and pains have lessened, simply by getting more sleep.

Walking is NOT groundbreaking.  Sleeping is NOT groundbreaking.  These are things I should have already been doing.  Perimenopause is NOT for wusses.  It’s not horrible, either.  Yes, it has kicked my tush, but it’s also FORCED me to live a healthier lifestyle. Maybe there’s a reason why some women breeze through perimenopause and others, like myself, feel like they’re going through a nightmare.  Perhaps this is nature’s way of getting adrenaline junkies, like myself, on track.  I’d like to be around and healthy in the future. Perhaps this is the start.

More posts to follow…

Take care and sleep tight!

xo Juli











Living with Perimenopause: Part One

Before we get started, I should probably make this clear.  I’m not a doctor.  I’m not a nurse. (I’ve had lunch with a nurse, but that doesn’t count.)  I don’t work in the healthcare field or industry.  I’m the “thing that reads a lot,” a woman with an obsessive yearning for knowledge.  I may not have all the answers, but I can spend hours and hours reading stuff written by those who seem to know what they’re talking about.  I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert in anything.  I will share what’s worked for me.

I’ve only had a title to go along with my varying and progressively confusing symptoms for a short time.  I knew there was something wrong.  I knew that I didn’t feel like I did in the past, both mentally and physically.  I knew I needed to do something to “fix” me, but I was grasping at straws, trying to figure out why my emotions seemed to be in the driver’s seat.  I’ve fought depression on and off most of my life, but lately I’ve been all over the place.  I’m happy.  I’m sad.  I’m angry.  I’m sleepy.  I’m an entire fleet of ineffectual, melancholy dwarves.  And while I’m pale enough to be Snow White, and see nothing wrong with intelligent conversations with animals, I’m not ready to embrace the Dysfunctional Princess lifestyle.  Not yet!

I’m perimenopausal.  This means I haven’t hit menopause, but my body is going haywire while prepares to shut down the dairy sections of my body.  No more eggs.  No more milk. We’re turning out the light.  Bub-bye!  From my understanding, I’ve got another 2-10 years before the shut down is complete.  That’s a lot of warning time, when you think about it.  So, I suppose I should be grateful?  Thanks???  In the meantime, my brain has felt like I’d popped it in the blender.  Puréed synapses, anyone?  I’ve got chunks of time missing.  Conversations have vanished from my memories.  Poof!  Gone.  I’m been more achy than usual.  I’m retaining fluid in my legs.  Gaining weight.  Experiencing hot flashes. Yeah…I’m a mess!

Or…I was a mess.

I’m feeling so much better than before.  I can’t even explain the differences properly.  It’s like trying to function on 3 hours sleep.  EVERY DAY.  You might be able to plow through your first day, but it’s not pretty, and the more sleep deprived you are, the worst it gets.

Now that I know what’s going on, I can make different choices. I can help my body through its changes.  I feel like I’m in control again.  I have my life back.

So, what have I been doing to help myself?


We’ve all heard this before.  It’s not mind-blowing.  Get outside and walk!  A half hour of walking everyday would be ideal.  So far, I can only manage to go out walking every-other day.  Seven days of walking is too hard on my “bad knee.”  (Plus, the weather isn’t especially cooperative in Michigan.)  I can mange 3-4 days of walking per week fairly well.

I started walking a few months back, before I owned the title: Perimenopausal.  I figured since I didn’t know what else to do, or how to fix my symptoms, I should start with the basics. Drink water, exercise…blah, blah, blah.

Perfectionist Juli does NOT like to exercise because she tends to make everything harder than it has to be.  Perfectionist Juli would insist that we can’t exercise because…we don’t belong to a gym.  We don’t own a pedometer.  We don’t own the latest gadget.  We don’t have time.  We’re too busy.

I’m going to make this easy.  If you have a sidewalk or street in front of your house, you can probably go out walking.

I live in a small town.  I feel comfortable in my neighborhood.  I don’t have a legitimate excuse for regularly avoiding exercise.  Your situation might be different from mine.  I don’t know.  I’m sharing what’s worked for me.  I’m not giving you orders.

This is what I did when I first started my walking routine:

  1. I took my cellphone with me and set the alarm to go off in 15 minutes.
  2. I picked a direction and started walking.
  3. When the alarm went off, I turned around and walked home.

That’s it!  Pretty simple.  I didn’t worry about steps or speed.  I figured, as I improved, I’d go farther and faster.

I try not to get on the scale too often.  I can’t control the scale.  I can only control my own actions.  If I lose weight, great.  If not, oh well.  My weight isn’t the most important thing.

Have I seen any benefits from walking?


While my weight hasn’t really changed, my jeans are fitting better.  My sleep pattern seems to have imprived, probably because I walk in the morning.  I have more energy.  (Vitamin D, perhaps?)  My “bad knee” isn’t quite as bad as it once was.  Go figure!

On a side note, I really enjoy getting out of the house.  I didn’t expect that!  I don’t know why, but writers often wax poetically about the silence of the great outdoors.  They couldn’t be more wrong!  It’s NOISY outside, especially if you live close to nature.  Birds, frogs, insects, squirrels, things crashing around through the trees and scrub…sometimes, you can hardly hear yourself think!  I spend too much time in my head, so it’s nice to have all the commotion going on around me.  I love the beauty of nature, but my brain needs the break walking seems to provide.

If you’re able to go walking, great.  I’d suggest you wear a supportive pair of shoes.  Bring a cell phone with you, just in case.  Use a timer.  Pick different paths, so you don’t get stuck in the same routine, and for safety.  And don’t push yourself too hard.  Walking shouldn’t feel like work.  If it feels like work, you won’t want to do it long-term.

Sometimes, I like to bring my camera with me.  It’s mounted to a monopod that doubles as my walking stick.  Here are a few photos from my walk this foggy October morning:


If I could change only one thing, I would have started walking outdoors sooner.  In the past I usually exercised indoors, if at all.  However, I saw immediate mental and physical benefits once I started walking outdoors.

Take care and more posts to come…

XO Juli




Seventy-Nine Days

I’ve been away from WordPress for a while. Seventy-nine days, to be precise.  Over the years, I’ve struggled on and off with my pet demons: Depression, Procrastination, Fear, and Perfectionism.  They’re nothing new to me.  They are the enemies I’ve known so long, we should probably get matching coffee cups.


*Like this one from The Hillywood Show.

(I don’t know anything about your pet demons, but I’m sure mine drink lots of coffee!)

That said, I’ve known for some time that something else was going on, something I couldn’t quite grasp.  Vague symptoms have been popping up; little stuff that could have been anything, but all together add up to something.

I’m in my middle years, in my forties.  I’m not a kid anymore, but I’m not quite ready to look at retirement villages either.  Honestly, for a minute there, I REALLY enjoyed being in my forties.  I liked the idea of finally being in a place in my life where I didn’t care as much about random opinions.  I could focus on me.  My body wasn’t young anymore, but I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.  Being in your forties is like being in the middle of the herd.  It’s safe. It’s a good place to be.

Until it wasn’t.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like something wasn’t right, like I didn’t know my own body anymore, especially over the last few months.  I’ve had memory lapses, entire conversations…GONE!  Mood swings. Bouts of depression that have left me confused, because they’re not like the ones I’ve had in the past.  My body is achy, then it’s not!  I’ve had difficulty sleeping, like every sound is being magnified.  I’ve gained weight, but I’m active and I’m not overeating.  Sometimes, I get symptoms that vaguely seem familiar, symptoms that remind me of being pregnant, and yet I am most certainly NOT pregnant. I’ve been worrying over everything, almost to the point of paranoia.

For a while, I thought that maybe Depression was morphing into something else, something darker.  But there was no consistency to it.  I’d feel depressed, then BOOM! Now, I’m fine.  Oops!  Now, I’m not.  That’s not how my bouts of depression usually work. I usually slide slowly into my depression, then gradually pull myself back out.  But lately, my brain is all over the place.  I’ve been feeling like I’m losing my mind.  I was plagued with thoughts of dying, but NOT of suicide.  It’s more like I thought maybe there was something REALLY wrong with my body, that it was finally failing me for good.

I’ve been grasping at every straw I could think of, trying to figure this all out, trying to make myself better.  But I couldn’t put it all together.  Aches and pains are common.  Lack of sleep happens to all of us, from time to time.  Everything I’ve been experiencing seemed so random and unrelated.  Plus, my symptoms were inconsistent.  I’d feel like I’d lost my mind, then I’d feel like me again.  Sometimes, I’d feel BETTER than old me, more focused than old me.  So what does that mean?  It’s still a symptom, even if it’s a positive one.

It means…I am NOT crazy.

I’m NOT dying.

(Okay, technically I am dying, because we’re ALL dying, but not right this second.)

I’m going through PERIMENOPAUSE, the time in a woman’s life BEFORE menopause hits.

For the record, I consider myself a reasonably intelligent woman.  I honestly didn’t know this was a “thing.”  My mother had Multiple Sclerosis.  She died in her fifties.  My maternal grandmother passed away a few years ago.  The matriarchs of my biological family are mostly gone.  The only assumption I had about menopause is that it happened to women in their fifties.  That, and yay!  No more periods.

I didn’t know that a woman’s body goes through changes five-ten years before menopause hits.  I had no idea this was normal.  I thought I was losing my mind!!!

I think Magnolia’s The Perimenopause Blog has more information out there, in one spot, than just about any other place on the web, but her post: The 35 Symptoms of Perimenopause, was especially eye-opening.  I have 27 out of 35 possible symptoms listed. So…umm, yeah.  That says a volumes.

Is this too much information to share?  Maybe. I didn’t get into all my personal gory details, but I felt like I had to say something.  I wanted to get this information out there because I KNOW I’m not alone.  This is a thing.  It’s a natural part of a woman’s life.  It effects the lives of everyone around me.  Plus, there are things I can do to help myself, now that I know what’s going on.

I’ve already made some small changes in my life, and I’m already seeing some benefits, but I’ll share that information in another post.

In the meantime, check out The Perimenopause Blog.  Learn something new.  Do stuff.  And thank you so much for ALL the kind words!

I appreciate you all so much!

xo Juli