The fine line between menopause awareness and menopause freak-out
World Menopause Day came and went, and I can’t help wondering if it created more menopause awareness, or more opportunities to freak out. Perhaps it’s both.
In London, the creative team at North Greenwich Underground Station, also known as All on the Board, showed their support for women going through THE CHANGE by dedicating their popular daily words of inspiration, written on a whiteboard, to the menopause. They listed 36 symptoms commonly associated with perimenopause and menopause and then wrote:
“We can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, but we can try to show you we care.”
How many people say that?
How many doctors say that?
No doubt women of a certain age who stopped to read the board before catching their train that day felt the love. (While women before a certain age who caught sight of the list must have gulped at the allure of what awaits them in life.)
The almost five thousand people who shared the Facebook post with the picture of the menopause whiteboard, no-doubt felt the love too.
Having your symptoms acknowledged and knowing that you’re not alone going through night sweats, brain fog, anxiety, insomnia and more, is comforting, and can help a woman feel just a little less crazy. Receiving a virtual hug on your commute, or as you scroll through Facebook, is heartening too.
As menopausal women navigate this sensitive time in a male-constructed world, any show of understanding and care is welcome. And yet menopause awareness often comes with a problem.
In so much of what we read online and in the media, menopause has been reduced to lists of crazy-making symptoms that need to be managed. We read how symptoms should be managed in the workplace – with private, cool and quiet workspace, suggests the HR team at Channel 4. While elsewhere we read how symptoms should be managed with medicines and supplements, although some things work for some women while not others, and it seems every few months we discover further questions about the safety of conventional and less conventional treatments.
In the public sphere, we’re stuck downstream with the idea that symptoms are inevitable (they’re not!). As a result, it’s assumed our focus needs to be there.
In some online menopause support groups, the focus on symptoms is so overwhelming that participating in such groups should probably come with a health warning. Spending time in these groups can feel like bathing in toxic soup – you’ll probably gain a few symptoms and be more convinced that women need “fixing” – more so than before you joined.
So how can we offer true help to perimenopausal and menopausal women?
By changing the conversation!
When we spend more time looking upstream, contemplating the brilliance that lies at the heart of WOMAN, and questioning what could cause our symptoms within that space of brilliance (without needing to blame our hormones), a transformation in our experience of midlife change happens, symptoms disappear and we start feeling a lot better!
And if spending more time upstream (rather than in pools of toxic soup that sit downstream) sounds appealing, here are a few ways to start:
If you’ll be in London on Sunday 3 November, I invite you to join me for a talk and workshop on HOW MIDLIFE CHANGES YOU … for the better! You can find out all the details about the event and book your ticket HERE. There really is nothing like the energy of a live event to awaken the senses and gather insights! And why not bring a friend too and make an afternoon of it?!
If you fancy listening to a podcast to discover more about the principles of innate health that allowed me to embrace a completely new and empowering understanding about midlife change, that led to my symptoms disappearing, tune in to the latest A Little Peace of Mind podcast, hosted by the lovely Nicola Bird. Nicola and I discuss how a journey to transformation is so much simpler than we think.