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Are You Freakin' Crazy?

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They're the moms among us who sometimes go over the edge-- they fly off the handle at a moment's notice. But before you write them off as just plain nuts--could something else be going on? Yep... it's called menopause and it could soon happen to you.

We all know a few women at work--not to mention the carpool line or the grocery store--who can't stay focused, nap at their desk and even ones who lose it for no apparent reason. Sure, they're annoying as hell, but before you complain to HR, we'll let you in on a little secret: Mean Mary from accounting may be going through menopause.

Hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, and short-term memory loss are just a few symptoms women experience during menopause as their ovaries produce fewer eggs and eventually stop. Ah--sounds lovely, right?

According to the National Institute on Aging, the average age of menopause is 51; however, many women experience perimenopause in their 30s and 40s--a stage of transition where symptoms kick in early. And these symptoms don't break for your 9 to 5--in fact, many women become irritable, sleepy, and distracted at the office.

Yes, this could happen to you too. How would you deal if you became forgetful while talking to your boss? Or you fell asleep in the middle of a meeting?

Well, you could just deal--or should you (gulp) tell your boss?

"Disclosing any personal information to your superior is a personal and important judgment call," says Colleen Longstreet, Human Resources Director at a New York City-based technology company. "You have to ask yourself how bad the situation really is."

Did you miss a deadline? Well, that can slide. Have you overslept three times this week? That may be a bigger problem. But can disclosing such personal information work against you, causing co-workers to view you as weak  or emotional? Or will divulging the problem clear up any confusion about your recent behavior? Heed this advice: "There are key things to consider first--what is your relationship with your boss? Is your office a formal setting?" she says. "If you work in a high-pressure environment, ask yourself whether your boss would have the patience to hear you out."

That said, according to Longstreet, most mangers are sympathetic to people's personal needs, especially those of women. Chalk it up to more and more women entering the workforce, or maybe it's the fact that people spend so much time at work (thank you, Blackberries and Instant Messenger!). And as a result, companies are becoming more adept at dealing with personal issues that crop up at work.

But what if you work in a male-dominated environment? It can be awkward--if not downright icky--to tell your male boss that hot flashes have you wanting to strip naked in the office. "Sure, a man can never fully relate to women's health issues and he may not even understand what menopause or other gynecological issues are, but he will listen."

"However, if you're going to confront your boss, keep details to a minimum," Longstreet advises. Start with something along the lines of: 'You may have noticed I've been forgetting to pitch ideas lately or that I look tired during meetings. I'm experiencing menopause and am trying not to let it affect my work.'

"The bottom line is most companies have a zero tolerance policy on discrimination and your employer does want to help you perform to the best of your ability," Longstreet says. "Managers are also willing to tailor people's jobs to fit their situation. Your boss may ask for a doctor's note, but concessions can usually be made."

next: Pizza and Pancakes: Diet of Champions
8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous August 14, 2008, 10:57 AM

I had a menopausal boss a few times. NOT FUN.

Sandra August 14, 2008, 3:02 PM

I work in a predominantly female environment and if I ever admitted to menopausal outbursts, I would get no respect. Women treat it like it’s some horrible disease they don’t want to catch like it’s only for old, shriveled-up women. What they should do is be more empathetic that some young women can’t avoid it and work extremely hard at living a normal life.

BuckUpSister August 15, 2008, 2:22 PM

I think some women use menopause and pre-menstrual syndrome as an excuse to act badly. I’m sick of hearing it as an excuse for weepy women at work. We women should try to exert some self-control or we deserve for men to not respect us as leaders.

Anonymous August 15, 2008, 3:16 PM

Hey Buck Up Sister,
I bet you’re not a gem to be around. I have an idea… Buck Off.

Xrumer guide December 29, 2010, 7:13 PM

Thank you for the cool post

Susan January 19, 2011, 1:21 AM

There are many afflictions and emotional addictions that can cause people to act a bit loopy sometimes. We’ve all done it. Good advise about confronting the boss, you might also want to ask for some sick leave when you notice the effects.
Susan - the AA Route Planner

Jeogreptdeern January 31, 2011, 10:28 PM

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Raymon Christophe March 28, 2011, 8:37 AM

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