Menopause - a dirty word?
You’d like to think not in the modern world we now live in, and yet I don’t know about you, but there were times when I felt damaged in some way, broken, like I don’t work properly anymore. Shame would wash over me with waves of inferiority; the words 'washed up' and 'old' come to mind.
As untrue and ridiculous as my friends and family would tell me I was being, I’m guessing I’m probably not the only woman to feel like this, right?
Pressure, whether societal or social media-driven, fuels the perception that the modern woman should be perfect and able to cope in every way. We should Look good, be slim, maintain a good home, cook, and clean, all whilst holding down a job and, for many of us, be a good parent and role model.
If this is not enough pressure in our middle years, the bombshell of menopause strikes, for some like a bolt of lightning coursing through our being. For the lucky ones, menopause is just a bit annoying; for me, it was like a sledgehammer smacking into my gut and taking all the wind out of my sails. It all came at once and sideswiped me. Uncontrollable sweats, weight gain, palpitations, itchy skin, dry skin, tiredness, irritability, sleep apnea, forgetfulness, and a chronic feeling of doubt and panic that left me feeling like I was losing it.
I’m also guessing I’m not alone (phew!).
For many of us, menopause can create a spiral of self-doubt which can hit our self-esteem and self-perception very hard.
It has been a bruising process of looking deep within, challenging myself, pushing myself, and recognising change and embracing it; facing and accepting that this new me has been a work in progress my whole life and that it has led me to where I am now. In my profession, I was lucky to have empathic friends and colleagues to speak to; I was able to show vulnerability, and I was in a safe place to explore all my thoughts and irrational feelings. I’ve learnt to be more forgiving of myself and like who I am. I am sharing my story to give hope that menopause doesn’t have to be the end - it can be the beginning!
These days, I feel proud of who I am. I own my battles with pride and celebrate my achievements in my life so far. I’ve learnt to not always beat myself up if I get a bit tired. I recognise self-care and the importance of looking after my own mental well-being. My motto is to celebrate if 'today has been a good day, or if it’s not gone the way I wanted it to, then tomorrow is a new day'.
Talking about your thoughts, feelings, and worries can help breakdown those negative and restricting walls. Through counselling you can regain your identity. Talking therapies will enable you to see yourself more positively by challenging negative and sometimes irrational thinking. Many therapists will be able to resonate with this sensitive issue of menopause personally, walking alongside you through your journey.
Take a deep breath and take the first step towards the new you.
Showing up is power; it takes great strength and courage to ask for help...
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