A Mindful Menopause?
Let’s be clear - I blame Joe Duffy. Menopause. On afternoon radio. Seriously?
Up to that point I was happily in denial, the proverbial ostrich with my head in the sand.
My mother had glazed over menopause, saying she didn’t really notice much. I assumed
I’d be the same. Having had a coil fitted for years, periods weren’t a marker and besides,
the doctor who fitted the last one said I could leave it in and it would see me through
menopause, making it sound as if I’d sail into the sunset.
There was the general attitude when I was young, if a mature woman was grumpy or
outspoken, she was dismissed with an eye-roll and under the breath muttering of ‘she’s
just menopausal’. Observing this, I had to make sure that never happened to me. Until it
did. And Joe Duffy and an Irish Nation of Women were making it impossible to deny any
So why has it taken so long for the conversation to open up?
For me, it was because it was an acknowledgment of ageing. I forever wanted to drink
from the fountain of youth. Except, I didn’t really, I’m quite comfortable in my skin but I
wasn’t ready for society to view - or not view me as the case may be as ‘invisible’. So
while Mum never talked about menopause, she often mentioned how hard she found it to
become invisible as she aged. I always found that sad, as she remained a beautiful
woman her whole life. Yes, her youthful looks were where they belonged - in her younger
years, but she’d evolved not withered.
Apparently, there are over forty symptoms of menopause. In my case, I found two that I
couldn’t ignore. First were night sweats. I’d have to get up at night change everything
because clothes, sheets were drenched through. Second, and the one I found most
discombobulating, was anxiety. I’m a regular meditator and trained to a high level to teach
meditation so to be suddenly on the M50 and feel the terror as if I was a novice driver
alone on a motorway for the first time was a strange feeling. My palms calmed up on the
steering wheel, I was finding it hard to breath. To put it in perceptive, I regularly travel
alone to far flung corners of the world. Driving hire cars on super highways as recently as
a couple of years ago was fun - not angst ridden. This panic feeling was a completely
new experience. I thought maybe it was the pandemic I was reacting to, until these
sudden anxious peaks would hit for no apparent reason. This lead to indecision - I found
it impossible to decide about anything. I found it crippling, I began doubting my ability
and self-confidence nosedived.
As women we have very definitive cycles. Such as, getting your first period - it’s a rite of
passage. I remember mine clearly - I was so excited. My mother had given me a small
book titled ‘My Dear Daughter’. It was a factual guide about changes in your body as it
moved from childhood to womanhood. I couldn’t wait for Mum to come home so I could
tell her I got my first period. She smiled, went to her room to get me some sanitary pads.
As she handed them to me she said, ‘if you’ve any questions, just ask. We’re women in
this together!’ I could have burst with pride. I was twelve years old. Soon I’d be a
teenager and when I was older I’d have a boyfriend called David and he’d drive a red
sports car. Yes, from that first period, in my head I had the next ten years of my life
mapped out. I never did have a boyfriend named David. My first serious boyfriend was
insured on his family’s red saloon. Close enough.
Now here I am at the other end of my menstrual cycle with no manual or rose-tinted idea
of the next decade of life. And up until recently no one seemed to acknowledge it was
happening - including me. Do I believe the adverts of white smiles, gracefully greying
couples off on a Golden Year holiday or swinging their perfect grandchildren in their
arms? Hardly, I’ve just started a new business and I need a hip replacement. Off-peak
extended holidays is likely to lead to being unable to pay the bills and swinging anything
would mean giving myself an injury.
So what now? Firstly, I strongly believe in the power of mindset. Menopause was
traditionally referred to as The Change. It’s human nature to resist change and be fearful
of it. So I’m viewing my menopause as a transition. Transition feels like a slower, gentler
process. In my mind that feels more natural. Time to shake the sand out of my hair, the
fog out of my brain, and dust off my complimentary tool kit and the bookshelves where I
have a treasure trove of books, notes and teachings that I’ve collected over the years. I’ll
be looking with fresh eyes specifically for menopause. .
Here’s how I define my Complementary Tool Kit
Complementary wellbeing in the form of meditation, mindfulness, herbs, healing foods
and supplements. I first became interested in Ayurveda and Meditation when I was
turning forty, a single mother, my career in tatters as my industry moved to cheap
manufacturing in Asia. I found the benefits of both so life affirming that I trained and
became a certified teacher of Ayurveda for wellbeing and a mantra based meditation
practice, Primordial Sound Meditation. As the word complementary suggests - they are
complementary to traditional medicine - they do not replace it. I will explore HRT but I’ll
start here first and see how I get on. I imagine HRT, mindfulness, diet and lifestyle will all
work in harmony together to boost each other’s effectiveness - we’ll see.
It feels good to commit to taking care of myself as best I can. I’m choosing A Mindful
Menopause, acknowledging this important transition and life stage. Thanks Joe!