So I am at a Hen Doo and the young women laughed that Menopause is for old women and that it is ages away. Then they asked a few poignant questions about fertility and swiftly it was dawning on them that being 30 something was the next chapter, where the female form is evolving and suddenly getting older. The lightbulbs were going off about feeling anxious and losing confidence.
I wish that my 31 year old me who was told that I was already in peri-menopause had the courage that this 51 year old has. I am the other side of menopause and have severe social anxiety. I wish I had someone like me to support and lead me through the un-chartered waters of peri-menopause.
So what is Peri-menopause then?
Peri-menopause: when you experience menopausal symptoms due to hormone changes, but still have your period. The funny thing is that younger women feel invincible and that the future is forever away. Most of them don’t even know or understand the term peri-menopause. (that’s not a dig, but a societal challenge to educate and support more people about this subject.) It might just last a few months but for most individuals, peri-menopause lasts for many years.
For the purpose of the headline I want to talk about the psychological symptoms.
- Heart beating quickly or strongly
- Feeling tense or nervous
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Attacks of anxiety, panic
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Feeling tired or lacking in energy
- Loss of interest in most things
- Feeling unhappy or depressed
- Crying spells
Connecting the Meno-Dots Case Study
So 39 year old Sara has started having panic attacks and is feeling a bit down. She visits the GP who informs her that she has a lot going on right now and times are a bit stressful. Just to help take the edge off her anxiety, here are some anti-anxiety meds that will help. Symptoms worsen over the months and now she is no longer going out shopping or doing any of the normal things she was doing months ago with friends and family. She is at the point where work is a place of dread and she is falling out with friends and family. Now she is feeling like she’s invisible and the pills aren’t helping. What’s the point of being here!
If I had a pound for every time I have heard this story…
Sadly, we hear this scenario and variations of it, time after time. That includes myself. My story of my own social anxiety took to me to the edge. And whilst I was on this precipice, I was informed that these feelings were connected to oestrogen loss in my body.
One Davina Programme doesn’t make you an expert
Some of you are reading this and eye-rolling as if this subject is so boring and so over it, but let me enlighten you.
Research from the independent Nuffield Health group discovered the following sobering facts.
- Approximately 13 million women in the U.K are either peri- or post menopausal
- Symptoms can last up to 15 years
- Over 60% of women experience symptoms resulting in behaviour changes
- 1 in 4 women will experience severe debilitating symptoms
- Almost half of menopausal women say they feel depressed
- A third of women say they suffer with anxiety
- Women commonly complain of feeling as though they are going mad
- Approximately two thirds of women say there is a general lack of support and understanding
When you start to see the pattern around mental health you can see why talking and sharing with women is so important. And because so many still believe this subject is private/stigma or taboo, relationships are breaking down and women are taking their own lives and attempting to take their lives.
Outside of work, the menopause also has an enormous impact on other areas of a woman’s life. Mental health, mood and social lives can all be affected, and may be contributing to the fact that women aged 50 to 54 have the highest suicide rate in the UK.Written evidence from Health and Her [MEW0054]
When I write these words, I feel physical pain and desperation. I have fire in my belly to want to help other women not to suffer, not to feel such pain, but feel heard and valued. To feel that she is not alone and is an asset to not only survive, but thrive in her midlife. This is why we at iCareiMove are running programmes about mental health and menopause and getting back into our communities to listen and educate.
It starts with one
It starts with you. Being open to talking about female health is a great starting point. Everyone has a connection to a woman and it really helps having a better understanding of how we all function. Even better, attend our Menopause Muse Live sessions or even undertake our training modules. We can help. We can listen. We can support and educate, and we can be here.
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