,To many people menopause is a topic for jokes ( especially from men ) and something that happened to your grandma years ago. We read about it in women’s magazines but other than that it is largely ignored. We are told ” its natural ” ” don’t worry about it ” or ” just get on with your life as normal ” and so on.
But what is the reality ? And why is it not talked about more ? Why is the internet and You Tube filled with help and advice for parents with young children and yet there seems to be nothing for us older ladies ? We go through something that is equally, if not more difficult to cope with. Are we the forgotten generation when we reach a certain age and the menopause ?
I am 53 years old and in the menopause. I can say this for certain as I have had the test done recently which confirmed what I already knew. Part of my reason for starting this blog was to try and talk about these issues that affect so many women, issues that largely are not openly discussed. Yes, we can find medical advice but they usually churn out the same old statements. We all know about hot flushes, but the menopause is SO much more than that.
For me the emotional consequences of the menopause cause more issues for me then any physical symptoms and this has been true for many years. In fact. it was the emotional changes that I noticed first, and at a very traumatic time in my life.
Think about it. The menopause usually hits us at a time when there are massive changes in our personal life. Most women are around the age of 50 when the menopause arrives. But this is the average age when children are leaving home ( I will talk about Empty Nest Syndrome in a future blog ). We may also be experiencing bereavement from our parents dying or even our friends or work colleagues.
This all happened to me around the age of 50. Two of my children had left home and my eldest had even moved to London which is a long way from our home in North Yorkshire. In my 50th year my darling father passed away suddenly, along with two other friends who were not much older than myself. All this happening to me, along with the onslaught of menopause symptoms caused a massive emotional change in my life.
I suddenly felt old, vulnerable and scared for the future. All I had known in my lovely little world had suddenly changed and I felt very lonely and afraid. Couple this with all the hormone changes going on through my body, and is it any wonder that I felt so bad ? Surely I am not the only woman to feel like this ?
I tried so hard to ignore the feelings but my anxiety suddenly increased at such a rapid rate I found myself acting like a startled rabbit in headlights. My physical symptoms increased around this time too. I started to ache all over for no reason and found my energy levels were at zero some days. I would suffer from a sudden crushing tiredness that meant I had to sit down where ever I was, and sometimes only a short nap would help relieve the feeling. Adding the forgetfulness, memory loss, dizziness, hot flushes, dry skin, hair falling out, headaches, emotional outbursts, depression and other symptoms and you can see why it is overwhelming.
Yes, there are chemical supplements such as HRT that can be taken to relieve these symptoms and I know friends have taken this with great success. I chose not to take HRT as I have had previous breast lump problems and I am concerned of their recurrence so I would rather not take anything. In all honesty I would rather deal with the menopause using more natural methods anyway. I do believe some menopause symptoms can re occur after finishing HRT.
So where does that leave me ? Well I realise I have to take matters into my own hands. I have to find ways of helping me feel better and that is my goal for the next few weeks and months. I have started by making a list of possible solutions to the way I am feeling. Many of these are common sense, but quite often I feel devoid of any sense at all, so writing them down helps me to focus. So, this is my list which is by no means complete but it is a work in progress.
- MUST do more exercise. Both aerobic and more gentler exercise. So far I have joined a yoga and pilates class. I am soon to start spinning ( no, not vertigo…I believe it takes place on stationary bikes). I have started swimming about twice a week and am building up my lengths ( up to 10 at the moment). I walk the dog twice a day, which isn’t much, but at least it gets me out in the fresh air.
- MUST practice meditation at least once a day. This is important for me as it really helps my anxiety. I always feel the benefit from meditating so why don’t I do it more often ? Laziness probably. Anyway this has to be a regular event for me to gain the benefits. I also use Glenn Harrold relaxation apps on my phone which are part self hypnosis and part relaxation. I LOVE these and should do them more often. http://www.glennharrold.com
- MUST stop eating rubbish. I generally have a good diet but when I am feeling a little low I gravitate towards buns, cakes and chocolate. Yes, I feel better for a while, but then my sugar levels crash and I feel rubbish again. To combat this I have bought lots of Medjool Dates which I love. I am hoping that they will satisfy my sugar sweet craving. By eating less sugar I am hopeful that I can loose the extra stone I have put on in the last year. Yes, this weight gain is probably due to the menopause.
- MUST get more sleep. Has anyone else found their sleep pattern has gone totally haywire since the menopause ? I just can’t sleep at night, but put me in an cosy armchair at 2pm in the afternoon and I’m snoring my head off ! ( Not literally – I don’t snore ! I’m a lady ) Once again I must start using the sleep programme by Glenn Harrold to help me get back into a good sleep pattern.
- MUST dedicate time to ME TIME. Most of us ( menopause or not ) are guilty of rushing round, whether we are working or looking after our family. But that can leave us feeling drained and exhausted. So I have decided to really take some time every day to relax properly and just do things for me. This could be a long hot bubble bath with candles. Or snuggling up on the sofa under a cosy blanket watching an old black and white film. Instead of spending time cooking in the kitchen, why not get a take away instead ? Why not give yourself a facial using some nice products ? Or paint your nails a vibrant colour that will cheer you up every time you look at them ? If you can, having an aromatherapy massage once in a while can help with muscle tensions and emotional stress. If you can’t get to a therapist why not ask your partner to give you a nice back massage. As a trained aromatherapist I know the benefits to this only too well.
- MUST seek help more if I am feeling low or unable to function. This could be my GP or just chatting to a friend. I have had counselling before and I would be happy to go again. Going for counselling or seeking further help is not a weakness. It is a strength, as you are showing that you are determined to make a positive change in your life. So please don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.
- MUST drink more water. I am convinced that much of the time I feel rough as I am dehydrated. Lack of water can cause so many health issues for us, both physical and emotional. I know I don’t drink enough water, so this week I have started noting down how many glasses I have. I try and make sure I have 6-8 glasses daily and I find making a note of it is the only way I remember.
- MUST try think more positive. I find that menopause has a knack of altering my mood from one of positivity to one filled with negative thoughts. And, as we know these negative thoughts can drag us down. To try combat this downward spiral I have started saying positive affirmations to myself every morning. I have heard it is also beneficial to actually write these affirmations on Post It Notes and stick them in prominent places. This way you are reminded of them frequently.
So that is my list ( so far) for improving my menopause symptoms. Please let me know if you have any good ideas or you have tried something and it worked for you. By talking openly about the menopause, I am hoping that we can help each other cope with the ongoing symptoms.
Please comment below your thoughts and ideas and let me know your own journey through the menopause. If you aren’t going through the menopause but you know someone who is then please direct them to this post. The website link below is a fabulous menopause site that my GP recommended so please have a read.
Until next time my dear friends