It can seem like the world is out to get you. Not only is your husband fighting everything you’ve asked for in your divorce and custody agreements (hello mediation for the fifth time) but you just feel awful. If you’re irritable, unable to sleep, and your moods are out of control, you may be thinking that it’s due to stress. But if your periods are irregular and your hair has started falling out, it’s possible there may be something else at play. You might have a host of other symptoms, that lead you to suspect something different is going on with your health.
A trip to the doctor might confirm your suspicion; you’re in the beginning stages of menopause, called perimenopause. If you’re closer to fifty, you might be experiencing menopause itself. Great. Just what you need while battling the former love of your life for access to the children you gave birth to. There is hope though. You are not alone in battling menopause and divorce simultaneously. There are many different solutions that may help.
You are not alone in battling menopause and divorce simultaneously. There are many different solutions that may help relieve some of the discomfort you are experiencing.
There are natural options to try. For example, if you’ve been taking evening primrose oil for your irregular periods, it may also help with hot flashes. There is a host of information on natural remedies for menopause like black cohosh, red clover, Dong Quai, and ginseng. However, a lot of the research is inconclusive, and what may work for some, will not work for others.
Your Sleep Environment
You may have been having hot flashes for months, but since summer is in full-swing, you could’ve chalked it up to the heat. It may seem like a Herculean effort to make any major changes in your life right now, but sleep is vital. Your bedroom needs to be an oasis you can retreat to after a stressful day on the front lines. If you are waking up in a hot sweaty mess, try some temperature-regulating sheets and a cooling gel pillow, and see if you can install a fan above your bed or in your room if you don’t have one already. You’ll be surprised at how much this will help after just one night. Turning down the temperature in your home at night will help keep you cool too—the ideal temperature for sleep is 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit according to many physicians.
You’re already in survival mode from your divorce—it can take so much out of you— so even these small efforts can be difficult. Between the perimenopause and stress from the divorce, you might not be sleeping, which means survival during the day equals a ton of caffeine. This can create a vicious cycle and it’s suggested that you refrain from any caffeine during the eight hours before bedtime. This can be extremely difficult for the first few days, but doing so will enable you to fall asleep easier at night so you can get the rest you need for battle the next day.
Your Bedtime Routine
You’re going through a lot. Try treating yourself to a hot bath every night. Some nights, there may be equal parts tears and water in that tub, but it is good (and free) therapy. If you’ve never had a nighttime routine, it might help your body (and your stress level) to start one. You can wait until the kids are in bed—or not. Soon you may find that you began to depend on it and look forward to it every day. It might feel like the world, your divorce, mediation, and your ex are all conspiring to suck you dry but that bathtub and your kids can feed your soul every night.
Seek Medical Help
If you try these suggestions and still find that either the perimenopause, stress or both, are still keeping you up at night, it may be time to seek medical help. Sleep deprivation—and therefore your health—is not something to mess with. You need all your strength to fight this battle and stay present for your kids. There are sleep aids that are available to help you through this time in your life, or your doctor may decide that lab work is in order. Hopefully, though, some of these suggestions are already helping you sleep better.
Menopause and divorce are a difficult combination, but knowing some tricks and knowing that others have survived both can help a little.