Menopause, loneliness and identifying as BAME
We are increasingly becoming more aware of the impact of experiencing the menopause by women, trans and non-binary people, and how it can cause distress to someone’s mental health and well-being. This is especially the case if your ethnicity is from the BAME group because it has been reported that people from this ethnic group start the menopause early.
Why might someone be going through the menopause feel lonely?
Someone going through the menopause is experiencing a body transformation which involves neurobiological and physical changes to themselves as their hormones are fluctuating. This is a transitional stage for this person, and it means that their psychological and emotional health and well-being will need a lot of self-care. If the person going through the menopause has unresolved and unprocessed trauma from any of their child or adult experiences, going through the menopause may mean the resurfacing of these issues and hence why they may experience loneliness.
Research has shown how people from the BAME group are reluctant to seek help and support from mental health professionals, and at a time when this is more important than ever is when they should be reaching out. They can receive as much help and support through this process, although it means taking a big risk and choosing a therapist that they can work with to build a trusting therapeutic relationship because it is essential for them to get the right support for their mental health.
Working with a therapist will mean having open and honest conversations about how they are experiencing the menopause, together with how their race and culture impact their life experiences in relation to their identity and the relationship they have with themselves. If you identify as South Asian there will be a necessity to understand, work through and process enmeshment trauma that exists within the culture, in relation to how you are experiencing the menopause too.
Why does the menopause lead to mood problems?
There is a decrease in oestrogen and progesterone during the menopause. The decrease in progesterone increases the stress hormone cortisol. An increase in the stress hormone cortisol arises from the decrease in oestrogen, this decrease is what causes anxieties in the body and any unresolved trauma will resurface.
Then there will be a decrease in insulin. This is what we need to help absorb blood sugar into our body’s cells so that we can use it for energy. With a decrease in insulin, it will mean an increase in blood sugar and this can mean lower mood problems as your blood sugar levels will be high. This will have a direct impact on your emotional health with how you feel about yourself, as you will feel high and low depending on the context of your nutritional intake and physical health.
There are hormonal receptors all over your body and this means you will experience a whole body experience which involves your brain, eyes, joints, muscles, heart, urinary tract, vagina and more. Your hormones will stabilise over time although some people can experience powerful debilitating symptoms during the hormonal transitional period.
What can you do if you’re struggling with loneliness or low mood during menopause?
You will need a lot of self-care and this means all aspects relating to yourself and how you take care of yourself will need to be looked at. For example, your support network will need to be strengthened so that you know you can reach out to someone when you are feeling lonely or have low moods.
You will need to eat healthily, which means reducing sugar and ultra-processed foods from your diet and increasing protein, fruits and vegetables. The decrease in insulin is why you will need to decrease your sugar intake which also includes fructose that exists in fruits.
Any recreational drugs and alcohol intake will need to be reduced if highly consumed as well as your caffeine intake. It will be important for you to have as much sleep and/or rest as you can, and go outdoors for walks as well as body stretching exercises for relaxation methods.
Working with a therapist will help you considerably with your own awareness and acceptance, as well as journaling to be able to work through your feelings as well as process them whilst you are going through this unsettling stage of your life.
Keeping your body warm with hot drinks, surrounding yourself with warm/heated blankets and/or fans when needed and getting hugs from loved ones are all positive things to have when struggling at this time. Also, you should try to do all the things that you love doing during this stage of your life. This is a transitional stage of your life and it is temporary.
You will need seven to eight hours of sleep to reduce the cortisol hormone levels in your body and doing meditation and exercise will help to reduce your stress. Increasing protein and healthy fats is important and healthy fats will help to stabilise your hormone levels. There are research studies that have shown drinking green tea might be helpful too. Your hormones fluctuating have a direct impact on your mood as well as what is being consumed in terms of food and drink at the same time.
There is nothing wrong with accepting help and support when you most need it, especially during what might be the most difficult time of your life. You don’t have to be alone in your experiences, there is professional help available to you. How you take care of yourself during this transitional stage will have a considerable impact on your relationships and every aspect of your life experiences.
I have experience working with clients going through the menopause as well as those from the BAME group. I specialise in working with clients who have experienced severe traumas, intergenerational trauma and enmeshment trauma. I want to help and support you, so please contact me.