Let’s talk about Menopause this World Menopause Day
By Caroline Wright, Mental Health & Wellbeing Counsellor for Somerville Heart Foundation and Humanistic MBACP Counsellor
Going through the menopause can be one of the most challenging chapter’s a woman can face. Whether we are talking about the early stages of menopause (perimenopause), the ‘full monty’, or perhaps the end of the journey (post-menopause), it can alter a woman’s life course dramatically. For some, their journey can feel very isolating, confusing and scary. If it isn’t hard enough to be experiencing symptoms which can include hot flushes, weight gain, sleep disturbance, vaginal dryness, constipation, anxiety or depression; women also have to wrap their heads around how the menopause can impact relationships with their loved ones. For some, it can be difficult to accept, acknowledge and understand the menopause and this in turn can lead to a delay in seeking professional help through a GP, the NHS or more specialised menopause service.
There is also still a real misconception that women have to be of a ‘certain age’ to start menopause… This simply isn’t the case! Women including those who are diagnosed with ACHD, can be thrust into medically-induced menopause at any age, due to health conditions, treatment and/or medication. This ‘dropped into the deep end’ chain of events can be extremely difficult for women to manage alone. As a Counsellor, I often see the emotional impact the menopause has on women’s mental health. Sentences such as ‘I feel like I’m going mad’ or ‘I don’t feel like myself anymore’ are all too common. This is why it is vital that we proactively open up the conversation to allow women from all backgrounds and ethnicities to feel that they can speak about their struggles. To be frank – it saves lives.
The good news is whatever stage of the menopause you may find yourself in, there is always help available….. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of the menopause, it is important to make an appointment with your GP to determine where you are in your journey and to be informed of the range of options available to you and your specific heart condition. Options may include HRT (hormone replacement therapy), holistic therapies or professional counselling to help you manage life better. Celebrities such as Lorraine Kelly and Davina McCall have recently taken major steps in shining a light on social stigmas surrounding the menopause. Davina’s documentary entitled ‘Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause – All 4 (channel4.com)’ is a great watch. She shares her own journey through the menopause with vulnerability, yet empowerment, and allows women to identify with her experiences. The NHS also provides a great range of information and support Menopause – NHS (www.nhs.uk).
There are plenty of ways you can help yourself too! Simple changes to your lifestyle can have a positive effect on your menopause journey….. here are a few tips:
- Exercise – Aim to get 30 minutes in daily. It’s great for the waistline and mental wellbeing
- Yoga or Pilates – It’s low impact and great for the mind, body and soul
- Relax – listen to meditation or mindfulness exercises – Free on YouTube or try the ‘Headspace’ app
- Hydrate – Buy yourself an eco-bottle and fill up regularly to keep your body hydrated
- Keep cool – Keep those hot flushes at bay by wearing loose clothing and cotton when possible
- Mindful eating – Try a more balanced diet to help decrease symptoms and fridge raiding urges!
I would like to leave you with a reminder that you are only human, and a little self-compassion goes a long way…… The more we are able to talk about the menopause, the more it will help not just you, but future generations to come. So, allow your voice to open and remember that there is no shame in asking for support. One step at a time, things will become more manageable 😊.
If you would like to talk to Caroline about your heart condition and menopause, please get in touch with the office.