What I’ve learned about the menopause so far
When I first entered the menopause, I had no clue what was happening to me. I’d heard jokes about hot flushes and night sweats, and whispers about odd behaviour, but I didn’t take it seriously. It wasn’t long, though, before I discovered that ‘the change’ was no joke, but I still thought my experience was a one-off, caused by my circumstances. In the five years since then, as part of my mission to change the conversation around menopause I’ve met doctors, nutritionists, trainers, alternative therapists, and hundreds of menopausal women.
Whilst I’m no medical professional, and everyone’s journey is entirely unique to them, I have learned that there are some almost universal truths impacting all of us.
You can read all the books in the world, but honestly, when it’s your turn you still won’t know what to expect. Every woman is so different; our feelings about our changing identity, our hormone balance and our histories mean our experiences are totally unique to us.
If we say things like ‘oh, it wasn’t that bad for me’, we not only negate someone else’s equally valid feelings, we also shame them into silence, which affects us all. I read an article advocating more understanding at work for menopausal women, which was great. What wasn’t so inspiring were the comments. Older women, who’ve already been through it, saying things like ‘I didn’t need that’ and ‘these women need to suck it up’. It’s so sad when we don’t show support for each other, when it comes from a place of not having been supported ourselves. Instead, lets champion our rights to go through this massive life change however works for us, without shaming anyone else for doing it differently.
Lots of doctors think the answer to treating the menopause is to diagnose depression and hand over oestrogen and antidepressants. This isn’t always right. According to the research I’ve done, women experience an increase in anxiety and feelings of overwhelm, coupled with issues around their identity. The better solution seems to be a combination of individualised treatments and lifestyle changes coupled with CBT.
It’s been brilliant to see women talk about their menopause experiences, but we need more. More understanding from employers, more legal protections, better provision of healthcare and more education for younger women. That comes from us being honest, open and willing to continue to beat the drum for better awareness, Be it a sympathetic friend, a compassionate colleague or a family member, getting the support you deserve makes all the difference on the tough days and will see you through to the best bit – when it’s all over and you can start your third age feeling like a new woman!
Patsy Kensit Her beauty range, Preciously Perfect, is available from Ideal World. Search at idealworld.tv to discover the full collection.
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