Out in the Open

A mid-life crisis of one's own

The stereotypes don’t include them, but Jess Zimmerman says women have mid-life crises too
As Jess Zimmerman approached 40 she left her domestic life in the suburbs and headed for New York.

Stereotypically, the mid-life crisis is something men go through. But Jess Zimmerman says women have mid-life crises too. She knows from experience.

"It felt like a limb waking up," she says of her own, "and all of a sudden once that compression is alleviated the life starts flowing back into it and it's incredibly painful but also in a way less painful, less ultimately debilitating than just keeping the blood flow consticted."

Jess was married and living in the suburbs when she decided she'd had enough.

"I basically threw a bunch of stuff in the car and moved to New York."

Due to the absence of a concrete term for what Zimmerman was experiencing, she often described this awakening, sometimes jokingly, sometimes not, as a mid-life crisis, and more often a nervous breakdown. 

Piya and Jess discuss the reasons why women's mid-life transitions tend to manifest in needing to put others' expectations aside and wanting to be left alone.

"I had gotten into this habit of putting all of my needs aside in favor of trying to figure out what the other person wanted from me. And that's really something women are encouraged to do...you don't even notice it's being asked of you."