This period in life can be very challenging, especially if you’re a woman. Signs of a midlife crisis for a woman may include negative thoughts, feeling helpless, and having doubts about yourself and your body.
Female midlife crisis stages can get confusing and frustrating to the extent you may want to rip your hair out. But you’re not alone in your struggle. All women go through this at one point, and remember that no darkness lasts forever!
What Is A Midlife Crisis And How To Deal With It?
“I just want to scream and scream. Why is it so difficult for the world to understand that menopause is a real problem? Why do they want us to be okay all the time? I have been asked to be okay during my menarche, during my pregnancy, during the postpartum depression and now the same expectation of me at 50. I am done, I just want to walk out of my office and my home,” Muthamma protested.
Many Indian women have entered the workforce with unprecedented choices and few models for guidance. Yet most workplaces are not yet ready for female employees. Awareness about menopause is lacking. The apparent signs of a midlife crisis, triggered by physiological and psychological factors, go unseen and unacknowledged.
Most women fail to find the right – and necessary – support both at home and in workplaces. They continue suffering in silence and Muthamma is one among them.
My husband thinks I’m overreacting
“I feel hopeless and unfit. I feel like I am standing on the broken shards of my life. I’ve paused for the moment because I wish to know if I am heading in the right direction. I get the feeling that I have gone off the track in life. I am not able to talk to anyone.
“One day, I sat my husband down to talk about what I was going through. I could not find the right words to tell him exactly what I was going through. There was no response from him. He thought I was overreacting. He asked me to stop thinking so much. Finally, he concluded that I am bringing the agony upon myself,” she continued.
He, like everyone else in society, refused to acknowledge what is a midlife crisis for a woman. Women have been listening to society’s message that they will be fine as long as they are nice, work hard, do what they are told to do. Then they reach middle age and realize it may have been largely for nothing.
This is what triggered Muthamma’s strong urge for self-evaluation. She wanted to review her goals in life and balance them with where she was in life now. Self-reflection is a step in the right direction because it can get Muthamma to eliminate the things that are no longer in sync with who she is today. But she is not sure if this is over-analyzing.
My marriage is different too
“My marriage is falling apart. It is not what it used to be years back. We don’t connect anymore and our communication is poor. We live under the same roof but in different worlds. Rejin is too busy to sit and talk to me. I feel like leaving the marriage and moving out,” she went on.
Her self-evaluation is leading to a knee-jerk reaction and now she wants to take some time out to reflect on her failing marriage. Impulsive thinking and not considering the possible long-term ramifications of leaving her spouse could lead to a road of regret.
At different stages in our lives, we have different priorities and we focus on them. As we change when those priorities need to change, we experience a period of reforming.
“I feel I am going crazy. My midlife crisis symptoms make me feel like I am worthless. I wake up in the middle of the night and spend the rest of the night thinking endlessly. Then, I wait for it to be morning to get up and begin the day. The sleeplessness is making me lethargic during office hours. My husband thinks I am depressed,” complains Muthamma.
Related Reading: I Am Dealing With My Husband’s Midlife Crisis And I Need Help
What is a midlife crisis?
Muthamma is not just going through menopause; she is going through a midlife crisis. The various emotions and feelings she is experiencing are collectively parts of a midlife crisis. The term “midlife crisis” was coined in a 1965 paper by Elliot Jaques, a Canadian psychoanalyst, who described how people entering middle age are confronted with the limitations of their life and their own mortality.
In simple layman’s language, this is a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45–64 years old. It is a psychological crisis brought about by several events that highlight a woman’s growing age and inevitable mortality. A midlife crisis could also occur due to not achieving life goals.
This could lead to many emotional disturbances, like depression, remorse and anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to the current lifestyle. Going through a midlife change for a woman can be very challenging because it may disrupt her entire existence. All of this sums up why Muthamma is feeling hopeless and worthless.
I’m questioning my career choices too
“I am still career-minded and wish to prove my worth. But I feel my entire system has slowed down and I can’t function like I used to before. Looks like youth has left me for good. Maybe I should consider a career change and think of something different,” Muthamma has begun doubting her professional abilities too.
Her midlife crisis has left her questioning her career and experiences. This is a dreaded part of her life where she thinks that she is riding on a bike toward the horizon and a younger woman’s shadow is constantly following her.
Once the self-identification starts to fall away, you can end up reassessing who you are as a professional. Muthamma now has more questions than answers, as she spends most of her waking hours questioning herself, thus self-sabotaging her relationship and her professional prospects.
“I am 50 and now I know that time is running out. It is natural to remove those rose-colored glasses at this age and see the nude reality; a bleak forecast ahead can lead to a descending spiral. It is, as if, something has slipped off from me and I can’t figure out what it is.
“It is not a physical loss but an emotional one. Like the loss of a wish, the loss of my ambition. It is like a confrontation with reality and feels totally disappointing and unsettling,” she adds.
I don’t have anyone to confide in
Entangled in the nuances of this transition, Muthamma was unable to help herself. She felt complete destruction of her confidence.
“During the days of developing my career and balancing my joint family, I had kept my friends all on the back burner. I hardly spoke to them and only connected intermittently on social media, didn’t make time for weekend outings or movie dates with friends. So now, I have no one to talk to,” she told me when I told her to talk to her friends.
Doing something outside of the typical routine that lights up is one solution to distract from the midlife crisis. The midlife crisis symptoms make you feel like nothing will help your cause. But that is not true.
“The appearance of wrinkles on my face is appalling. That indicates the arrival of old age and there is nothing I can do naturally to stop these signs of aging. I am not ready for these physical and emotional changes. Too much is happening at the same time,” Muthamma rued.
Related Reading: The Marriage Hit a Crisis
No sex, please, I’m not interested
“Sex is the last thing on my mind these days. I do not have any interest as I feel it is no more romantic. Besides, physically I do not feel fit. I have read about endless depictions of the male midlife crisis but very little is written about similar changes derailing a woman’s previously comfortable life. There seems to be less time for women to indulge in midlife crisis solutions,” Muthamma pointed out.
She finds herself attacked from all sides. Loss of youth, possible dreams, even the future are some of the losses women feel during this time in their life. Importantly, there is also a sense of invisibility that women may experience, as women are mostly judged by their looks in their youth.
To all the women undergoing menopause and midlife crisis, tell yourself that it is okay to lose your equilibrium when others think your life should be smooth sailing. You are doing just fine. It is absolutely okay to question your life’s focus. It is okay to think you are unknown to yourself and seek your life’s purpose, rather than feeling aimless.
Midlife crisis is real; get support
Many women do not believe in the concept of a midlife crisis. They think it’s just a coinage of the modern era, which makes living through one all the more difficult. They think that the signs of a midlife crisis are just a myth.
Remember, you need the support of friends and family. A midlife crisis may be the beginning of a turning point in personal, emotional, and financial stages in an adult’s life. Look out for the signs, and take steps to deal with the crisis accordingly.
There is no definite period because every woman is different. However, in most women, it lasts between 2-5 years before they decide to get help.
Most men do go through a midlife crisis, but their experiences and priorities are very different from that of a woman.