Mental health and the menopause isn’t really talked about but they are so heavily connected and the impact of it can affect women so intensely.
Mention menopause symptoms and people say hot flushes and an end to periods. But there’s a great long list of symptoms which last for years and years and mental health is at the heart of it.
As I write this, I have misplaced something important and I can’t work out where it is or even when I last had it. My head is full of hormonal fog because I’m guessing my period is coming and I’m feeling pretty frustrated about it although that is mainly because I will now have to tidy the house in an attempt to locate it. This is an example of the annoying things that can happen – not the end of the world but it’s enough to knock confidences and enable that feeling of stupidity.
I will be 50 next year and I have been experiencing some kind of peri-menopause since my early 40s mainly with irregular periods and those hot flushes. But when I hit 45 things really started to ramp up – anxiety and depression, feeling like I was going mad, brain fog, insomnia and a crashing lack of confidence.
And I’ve battled through ever since. I changed things at work to ease stress and tiredness, and I have allowed myself more space to rest and to have headspace. But being menopausal is a scary, lonely place – middle-aged women are the butt of jokes, society tends not to take us seriously and we become invisible. In short, we don’t matter.
Mental health and the menopause – finding my voice
Davina Mccall’s Menopause documentary was packed full of statistics and one is that 9 in 10 women feel that the menopause had a negative impact on their working life. I have thought about closing my practice because of the demands of being self-employed but I really don’t know what else I would do – working with parents has been my focus for almost 20 years and I am also really damn good at it.
In a way I am very grateful for the last year and the pause it has given me. A pause to reflect on my mental health and the menopause, to think about what I struggle with and how I can move forwards without feeling tired, old and miserable. Thanks to the privilege of having the time to reflect, some real soul searching, writing and a lot of reading, I’m not ready to sit back and let life pass me by and I will not be a victim to my hormones.
Reading posts and articles by menopause doctor Louise Newson, Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, along with a range of research, social media posts and other women’s experiences, I am ready to tackle it head on.
I am ready for my 50s and I am ready for HRT. I am being more open about the physical and emotional changes of being a middle-aged woman and I am ready for my next chapter of life and work with a new confidence and determination. I might just need an afternoon nap.