Barbara put her menopause symptoms to rest.

Menopause is a topic close to Barbara's heart. She writes Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause Roller Coaster. She lives in the small town of Hillsborough, NC with her husband Cliff and cat Lillian. When Barbara turned 40, menopause reared its head. From keeping her awake in the middle of the night or waking her much too early in the morning to moodiness and menopausal mind spinning, Barbara had it all. And she was not happy about it. Fortunately, that all changed.

Week 1

Sleep. Ah, precious sleep.
Barbara longs for the days when she could sleep through the nights and into the morning.

Week 3

Keep it sunny.
Barbara tries to keep a positive attitude!

Week 5

Barbara offers some practical and easy tips
for finding your way through any dark days.

Week 7

Counting blessings
on happy days is easy. But when you're down in the dumps, sometimes it gets trickier.

Week 10

Hormone havoc
Have you ever seen a hormone? Barbara wonders how such a little thing can cause so many big changes.

Week 1

Sleep. Ah, precious sleep.

In my 20s and 30s, I slept through thunderstorms and cats meowing for attention. I had to be careful to keep a mother's ear open for a child calling to me in the middle of the night. That's how well I slept.

But as perimenopause inched my way, so did sleeping troubles.

As menopause rolled closer, I went from being awake in the middle of the night to early morning waking. On some days, I'm jolted awake at 4 or 5 a.m. I toss and turn as my mind spins like the whirligig on my porch. Then I give up and get up.

Sleeping troubles zap my energy and darken my mood. When I get enough sleep, I'm astounded by how great I feel and the zest I have for life. When you/re rested and energetic, you can take on the world, in happy times and challenging ones.

I'm on a quest for a full night's sleep!

Week 3

Keep it sunny.

It's not always easy. In perimenopause and menopause, pesty hormones can bring on some pretty dark storms.

Knowing that moodiness is usually temporary helps. So does understanding that other women are weathering similar storms. Three cheers for the blogosphere and sites like this one sponsored by the Estroven Good Sleep Challenge. They connect us to the worldwide menopausal sisterhood.

Exercise, friendships, pets, hobbies, volunteerism, and happy rituals also propel us to the sunny side. Sometimes, it takes some effort. Sometimes, you have to push yourself. "Move over, dark clouds! I'm steppin' into the sunlight!"

And good sleep sure is important. When you've slept well, you greet Mother Sun in your best spirits, and you're better prepared to stay on that sunny side, no matter the changeable winds of menopause.

Week 5

Barbara offers some practical and easy tips

Give a hoot? Read ten tips
Here are some tips I would give a younger me right before the Great Pause hooted my way.
• Understand how Estroven can help you, and make good use of the resources on the Estroven site. Check out Estroven on Facebook and Twitter, too.
• Speak up-about moodiness, physical symptoms, all of it. Don't suffer in silence. Let your family and friends know what's going on.
• Don't make a stranger of your doctor. Visit. Email. Call. Ask. And if after a visit or so, your doctor still feels like a stranger, find another doctor.
• Don't expect menopause to necessarily be a quick process. For me, one symptom would go away but another would appear. This is still happening!
• Be watchful of what you eat. I found all the menopause weight stories to be true. I wish I had been more careful.
• If doctors, therapists, and buddies are suggesting you are depressed and need medication, explore the possibility that this is menopause first.
• Lotions and creams are your magic potions: moisturizer, sunscreen, conditioners, and lubricants.
• Exercise does everything it promises to. Big bad hormones hate exercise. It scares them away, making you feel better, sometimes within the first ten minutes or so.
• As you feel yourself changing, make some. Small changes, larger ones. Good ones. Happy ones. Change helps us climb out of ruts and feel like we're the boss, which in many ways we are!

Treat yourself. You deserve it. Enough said.

Week 7

Counting blessings

And the grump of menopause can sure put you in the dumps. I found, when I was in the middle of menopausal moodiness that the negatives in my life came to the forefront.

Often I would spin those negatives in my mind. I don't know what the answer is to menopausal mind spinning. A good night's sleep, exercise, outings with friends and family, and happy projects can often zap the negativity.

Count blessings as you sort socks, dust bookshelves, or empty the dishwasher. The task will go faster as your spirits improve.

Week 10

Hormone havoc

You never know when a symptom (a new one or an old one) is going to start up. Grumpiness. Hot flashes. Night sweats. Sleeplessness. Water retention. Nervousness. Dryness of one sort or another. A period arriving six months after you figured you were done. Just when you're feeling calm, just when you think you're finished, the symptoms can come swirling back.

I would love to SEE a hormone. What do these little buggers that cause me so much trouble look like? I know they fill a biological purpose far beyond my understanding. Thanks to Estroven Nighttime for helping me tame some of those (symptoms).