Around 70% of women in menopause will experience mental health issues including anxiety and depression, but as you begin your menopause journey it’s not something that is top of the symptom check list, it creeps up on you so slowly, a thief stealing your confidence and by the time you realise your confidence has left the building you’re so consumed by your anxiety. How many times have you lied to get out of social commitments, made excuses when asked to take on more responsibility at work, or not pushed yourself forward for promotion as you once would have 10 years ago because you feel you’re drowning inside?
Five years ago, I had a revelation whilst watching my teenage daughter hang out the washing, guaranteed a rare moment, it started with a churning in my stomach my breathing became rapid, she looked over knowing that I wasn’t OK. ‘Can I just peg out my trousers, they’ll never dry like that,’ I said pointing at the creased one leg still inside the trousers hanging lopsidedly on the washing line. I was becoming more irritated I knew how irrational I was feeling over someone trying to help me hang out the bloody washing, I physically turned away. ‘You’re anxious,’ said daughter looking at me with more knowledge of mental health in her 17 years than I had in my 49 years. That moment was my lightbulb moment when I understood that my body had been anxious for years, firstly it started with the big things, work and family but now it was sat on my shoulder and had started gnawing on the inconsequential minutiae of everyday life, I realised in that moment I was exhausted.
Peri menopause is an anxiety ridden bastard that rides in scoops you up and plonks you down in an irrational disembodied haze whilst still having moments of clarity your normal rationale now becomes a catastrophising insomniac that makes lists at 3 am that will not make any difference to the day when it starts properly at 6.30am with your morning mug of tea. Your imminent sense of doom at completing the simplest of tasks the continual ‘what if’s’ whirring through your head in readiness for things to go wrong when years before it would be the ‘why nots’ as you ran head first into every situation with joy and hopefulness.
Imposter syndrome, there’s another unscrupulous bastard that slides into your life and lounges around drinking latte’s and watches as you feel a fraud in your own life, doubting your own accomplishments, making you micro manage the simplest of tasks. For some women to just get out of bed in the morning and function whilst sleep deprived, anxiety steals whatever energy they have left, they definitely deserve more than an academy award for best acting to get through the day.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s started to burn brighter as more and more women come together to tell their stories, and talk about menopause, the symptoms, HRT, and the choices we have available to us, by talking we are opening ourselves up to our glorious vulnerability and we are opening the door for a deeper understanding of what generations of women before us have kept hidden. There is no need to stay quiet anymore, menopausal women all over the world are shouting loud and proud about their symptoms, they’re sharing stories, holding menopause café’s, becoming free to embrace the Queenager, after all if puberty in your earlier years is a physical and emotional change into adulthood then menopause is the physical and emotional awakening into your second adolescence.