Levi’s has a commercial featuring singer and songwriter Alicia Keys. In the commercial Alicia Keys says, “All women are natural bad asses.” She says it with conviction and confidence; and I approve this message!
Women are natural bad asses! Dr. Maya Angelou says women are Phenomenal! From the “reach of our arms, to the span of our hips, to the stride of our step, and the curl of our lips. It’s the fire in our eyes, and the flash of our teeth, the swing in our waist, and the joy in our feet. We are women. Phenomenally“.
Yes, women got it going on. But what also makes us natural bad asses as Alicia Keys says, and phenomenal women as Maya Angelou proclaims, are the stages in a woman’s life that are rights of passage, which we handle with all of the grace and strength that our Creator gives us. From the onset of puberty, to the start of the menstrual cycle, to childbirth and menopause, women flow through these rights of passage like the natural bad asses we are!!
And it’s no easy feat. At each of these stages our bodies seem to turn against us and rebel against us, sending our hormonal levels into a downward spiral causing all sorts of unwanted chaotic friction within us that we can’t even explain. And yet, we handle it….like the natural bad asses that we are!
I entered this final rights of passage at 35. Doctors call it perimenopause. Perimenopause begins several years before menopause and is the time when a woman’s ovaries gradually begin to make less estrogen. There is a slew of symptoms and not every woman has all of the symptoms. I experienced a few, with the most prominent being those dreaded hot flashes. I can be in an air conditioned room and suddenly feel as though I have been transported to the Sahara Desert. It is annoying on top of annoying on top of annoying! I have also experienced mood swings though not as prominent as the dreaded hot flashes. I have literally gone from nice to straight (fill in the black) in 0.2 seconds! It scares me how quickly that can happen. But the scariest part of all is having no control over it. Especially at the onset of perimenopause and menopause because I had no idea what my body was doing to me.
Now fellas, this is not a slight on you, many of you just don’t know. But when a women’s estrogen levels drop, there is bound to be a change in her behavior. Why? I’m glad you asked. “Estrogen is a hormone. A hormone is a chemical substance. It’s secreted by one tissue and travels by way of body fluids to affect another tissue in our body. In essence, hormones are “chemical messengers.” Many hormones, especially those affecting growth and behavior, are significant to both men and women. The amount and levels of hormones change daily. The sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, are secreted in short bursts — pulses — which vary from hour to hour and even minute to minute.” (WebMD). And because I know God does all things well and he was masterful in creating the human body to function optimally, then he also made sure that women would receive just the right amount of estrogen to ensure that we were in balance.
So fellas, can you now see how a woman can be affected by mood swings during these stages of life? Her body is not producing enough estrogen therefore sending everything into a chaotic state. It’s not that she’s crazy. It’s not that she’s angry. It’s not that she’s mad…well maybe she is mad, but mad because her body is under siege and she doesn’t know what to do.
Just this past Monday I didn’t know what to do. Not only did I feel like my body was under siege, but my mind as well. I started feeling “strange” last week. I could feel a cold trying to come on so I attributed that “strange” feeling to a cold. I was drinking green tea like it was water. But as the days rolled on, the more “strange” I felt. By Sunday night, I felt depressed. Low level depressed but depressed nonetheless. I could feel myself withdrawing. I wasn’t answering the phone and I just wanted to stay secluded in my home. I was having thoughts of doing harm to myself.
Monday morning, not more than five minutes after waking up, I was crying uncontrollably. Something wasn’t right. The last time I felt this way was when my mother died. I’m sitting on the side of my bed, hugging my pillow, crying like my mother had just died. I honestly felt like I was losing it. I started doing the one thing I knew to do, call on the name of a Jesus! So here I am, sitting on the side of my bed, hugging my pillow, crying uncontrollably, praying, “Jesus help me! Jesus help me!”
I forced myself to go to work that day….and the next. But I was withdrawn. No real interaction with my colleagues and I felt on edge. I could not continue on this way. And so I reached out to my friends through social media seeking guidance.
After reaching out to friends, I was relieved that (1) I am not crazy (well, that’s debatable) and (2) I am not alone. One of the many tricks of the enemy is to convince us that we are alone or the only one that has ever gone through something. But the devil is a liar! My friends stepped up and offered sound advice and I appreciate them for that. There were even a few friends that reached out to me to share their personal stories. They armed me with knowledge that not only empowered me but also brought a sigh of relief. Relief in knowing that I wasn’t losing my mind; feeling depressed is a symptom of menopause. Relief in knowing that others have traveled this road before and survived. Relief in knowing that I will get through it as well. It’s simply the final right of passage. A right given to me as a woman. A right that makes me a phenomenal natural bad ass!