a woman's midlife crisis

A Woman’s Midlife Crisis and How to Cope

There are many days that feels like a relentless march through a minefield of stress. Money worries that hover like persistent shadows.  Anxiety about work, am I doing enough? Doing it right? Will this company ever succeed? And then there’s parenting – that constant, nagging fear that I’m somehow failing my son, not being the mother he deserves.

In the midst of it all, I find myself caught in the crossfire between my husband and son. Each one seems to think I’m in the other’s corner, leaving me feeling like a referee rather than a partner or a mother. Adding to this emotional cocktail is the weight of caring for my aging dad. His health is declining, dementia and heart issues becoming a daily reality, and I’m grappling with the guilt of not being able to be there enough.

Then there’s the battle with my own body. Perimenopause has been cruel. I look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself. Try and I might, nothing seems to help me get this weight off.  It’s an unwelcome change that only fuels my insecurities.

My friends, the ones I cherish deeply, are often relegated to the scraps of my time and energy. And through it all, the quest for personal peace, for a moment of solitude, seems like a distant dream.

The rollercoaster of emotions is exhausting. Some days, the urge to cry or scream bubbles up, a tempest threatening to break through my composed exterior. But then there are days when apathy takes hold, a fog of listlessness that makes even the simplest tasks feel insurmountable.

On these days, my mind wanders to fantasies – wild, outlandish dreams that feel so distant from my reality. Like owning a coffee farm in Colombia. I imagine it vividly, the aroma of fresh beans, the rustle of leaves in the gentle breeze, naming my own brand of coffee sold from a quaint, bustling truck. For hours, I get lost in this daydream, crafting names for my imaginary venture, a brief escape from the mounting pile of ‘to-dos’ that await my return.

And then, as the fantasy fades, I’m back to square one – submerged in stress, feeling more lost and overwhelmed than ever.

And I find myself wondering… Is this a mid-life crisis? It feels like I’m standing at a crossroads, every path shrouded in fog, every step heavy with uncertainty. Do women even have mid-life crisis? It seems like that a man’s thing. And who even has the time?

A Woman’s Midlife Crisis

Well it turns out that women do have midlife crisis. But many of us will go through it earlier than men – in our 40s rather than our 50s like the typical man.  And midlife crisis in women typically unfold differently than in men. Probably because we’ve had a different combination of psychological changes, hormonal shifts and societal expectations.  So of course it’s different for us. 

Some common signs and symptoms often include feelings of depression and anxiety, a sense of mourning for lost youth or unmet expectations, mood swings that range from anger to irritability, and a pursuit of drastically changed lifestyle goals. Social factors like the status of your relationship, children reaching adulthood, or a career crossroads can also contribute.

The emotional landscape can be complex during a midlife crisis. You may wrestle with existential questions about mortality or life’s meaning and satisfaction. These questions often lead to reevaluating your achievements and aspirations. Your mental health can be affected, as feelings of depression or persistent anxiety about the future are quite common.

Women’s midlife crisis experiences are often colored by societal expectations to juggle multiple roles, which can become overwhelming. Emotional responses to aging may bring a confusing mix of both loss of the past and excitement about new prospects. Pressures around your physical appearance and staying productive, while managing your evolving family dynamics, paint a unique picture for women during this stage.

Common Signs

Think you might be having a midlife crisis? Here are some signs to look for:

Searching for Answers

You may find yourself deeply questioning past choices, the state of your relationships, and contemplating what lies ahead.

Impulsive Behavious

In the throes of a midlife crisis, you might act out of character, making impulsive choices about your career or personal life. These decisions can stem from a desire for a drastic change as you reassess your life’s direction.   

Change in Weight

Unexplained weight gain or loss might occur as physical manifestations of the inner turmoil. But don’t forget, these changes in weight can also be linked to your changing hormones or as a reaction to stress during this period of change.

Lack of Motivation

Things that were once so important, now barely hold your interest. You seem to have lost your get-up-and-go. As your passions fade, you’re not interesting in seeing friends, or fulfilling your  career ambitions. You might feel  a sense of aimlessness.

The Future Looks Bleak

A once-optimistic view may be overshadowed by a gloomy perspective of the future. Gender roles and societal stereotypes may exacerbate this feeling, with pressure to adhere to certain expectations despite a desire to redefine personal success.

Bored and Restless

A sense of monotony or lack of excitement may leave you feeling restless and indicate a deeper need for purpose and challenge.

Dissatisfaction with Career

Doubts about your professional path can become overwhelming. Whether it’s through staying in a job that no longer makes you happy. Or the desire for a career that aligns more with your evolving goals, the impact of a midlife crisis can be profound.

Struggle with Every Day Life

Everyday tasks might become increasingly burdensome, and responsibilities towards family can feel overwhelming. Just getting out of bed in the morning and showering may feel like it’s all too much. If this this the case, you could be suffering from depression and you should seek medical support right away. 

How to Deal With a Midlife Crisis

Midlife crisis can be a transformative period in your life, often marked by a quest for renewed purpose and meaningful changes. Here are specific strategies to help manage the challenges you might face during this time.

Acknowledge It

Recognizing that you’re going through a midlife crisis is a crucial first step. This acknowledgment is empowering and can pave the way for positive change.

Talk with Your Partner and Friends

Engaging in heartfelt discussions with your partner and friends can provide invaluable support and understanding. Your relationships can be a strong foundation of support during these shifting times. 

Finding Purpose and Fulfillment

Growth and satisfaction often stem from aligning with your true passions. So focus on activities and interests that light you up. 

Prioritize Your Health

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Focus on your physical well-being through regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and sufficient rest. These simple changes can elevate your mood and self-esteem.

Change Your Routine

Shaking up your daily routine can inject new energy and offer fresh perspectives, helping to alleviate feelings of stagnation.

Seek Professional Help

If the crisis feels overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek help from a therapist or counselor. They can offer personalized strategies to help you navigate these challenges. 

Priorities and Boundaries

Reflect on what truly matters to you. Make these your priorities. And then don’t be afraid to set boundaries. If it doesn’t feel good, just say, ‘NO!’

Build Resilience

Building resilience is not just about personal strength, it’s about being vulnerable and having faith. It’s not about grit or willpower, it’s about taking time for yourself, to recharge your system and find your inner calm so you can better deal with the curve balls midlife sends your way.

Lose the Guilt

Release any guilt tied to past decisions and focus instead on the opportunities ahead. Midlife is a chance to redefine what success and happiness mean to you.

If you think you might be in the throes of a midlife crisis, know that you are not alone.

And consider this midlife phase not as a crisis, but as a moment of awakening—a time to rediscover and embrace your true self with grace and enthusiasm.