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Opinion We need to talk about Menopause

When you’re ‘in menopause’, it’s time to stop and give yourself a wellness service, writes Barbara Edwards.

“IT’S ONLY A matter of time”, is something regularly heard in conversations about menopause between women of a certain age.

And while it may be true, for the majority of women it will happen naturally when her body is ready, which is generally accepted to be around the late 40s or early 50s.

Unfortunately, for some women, it’s not a natural process, and menopause can be triggered early due to medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

But regardless of how this latest phase of a woman’s life has been triggered, the truth is that it can have a devastating effect on their life, relationships, family and even their career.

Menopause is more than just a hot flush too, even though this is what most people will associate with the phase.

Women will stand discreetly fanning their hand near their face, hoping no one notices, and praying that they’re not actually bright red even though it feels like they should be.

shutterstock_205679977 Shutterstock / Cara-Foto Shutterstock / Cara-Foto / Cara-Foto

In fact, there’s more to menopause than feeling hot and sweaty. Other symptoms can include:

  • Drowsiness/exhaustion
  • Low mood/mood swings
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of libido
  • Disturbed sleep pattern

I’m not a medical practitioner, so I can’t do anything about libido I’m afraid, but all the other issues listed above are connected.

The above list seems a recipe for disaster, so it’s no wonder women dread menopause – what on earth is a woman supposed to do?

  • Read every self-help book on the shelf looking for the Dos and Don’ts?
  • Book a one-way ticket to far-away lands where she can scream LOUDLY without upsetting the neighbours?
  • Or do what I did when my teens came knocking – a sign on the door which said, “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT”?!!

But it doesn’t really matter which option you choose, because even though women now are more educated, aware, independent and strong-minded than previous generations, this one thing can have the same debilitating effect.

As a wellness coach, I work with women on my Mind Your Menopause programme either on-site or online, helping them through this process, and I fully relate as I too belong to the same club.

shutterstock_1042277725 Shutterstock / Asmiana Shutterstock / Asmiana / Asmiana

After the initial shock of realising the stork has returned to take back the eggs and replace them with menopause, a lot of women find themselves (ironically) in no man’s land.

Questions I hear from clients are:

  • Now what?
  • Does this mean I’m old?
  • How will I cope with work?
  • Will I tell the kids?
  • And if it’s a same-sex relationship, then there are two menopausal women under one roof, how will we cope?

I take my lead from the client but invariably my first comment or question will centre around self-care and time out for themselves.

This seems to be a real stumbling block because our nurturing nature is to look out for and mind everyone else except ourselves, which makes absolutely no sense at all.

shutterstock_1332865538 As women, our nurturing nature means we look out for and mind everyone else, but ourselves. In menopause, this has to change. Shutterstock / fizkes Shutterstock / fizkes / fizkes

So, you’re ‘in menopause’

You are ‘in menopause’ as I like to put it, that means the mileage has been done so stop and give yourself a wellness service.

If your heating system runs out of oil, you’ll call a plumber to clear the airlock.

So why not look after your wellness when your own tank is low?

Women have this habit of saying “I’m grand”, but learning to accept the changes that menopause brings is key, as it’s the first part of looking inwards and seeing what it is you really want and need for YOU.

Time out/wellness/self-care, they all mean the same thing: it’s time to look after yourself both mentally and physically.

It doesn’t have to cost 

Even though it can be hard to incorporate this into an already busy schedule, there are lots of free and simple things that can really help, like:

  • A walk in the fresh air to clear the head (preferably with no phone distractions).
  • Writing in a copy (journaling) to get your thoughts on paper, because if they’re on paper, they’re not clogging up your thoughts.
  • Have a go at mindfulness – I lasted about two minutes the first time I tried it and I didn’t even enjoy it. I felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t give up. Now I can do about 10 minutes, but it took me a long time to get to that point.

shutterstock_307015256 Journaling, writing your thoughts down means they're gone, and not clogging up your mind anymore, says Edwards. Shutterstock / Creaturart Images Shutterstock / Creaturart Images / Creaturart Images

Just as menopause will affect every woman differently, the choice and type of therapy will differ too.

Barbara Edwards is a Wellness and Leadership Coach. Originally from Dublin, she moved to Donegal 18 years ago. Her practise BeCoached focuses on women’s health and wellness, with a particular focus on menopause. Barbara is giving a ‘Mind Your Menopause’ talk at the WellExpo2020 in Donegal Town on Thursday, 23 January. 


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