Welcome to our October Phoenix Wellness blog as in our series, Our Menopause, Our Way. If this is your first visit, then it is great that you’ve found your way here and you’re starting to learn about what menopause means for you. Of course, if you follow us and have been with us from the start, then it’s great to have you supporting us and I trust you’re getting what you need through our blogs and video blogs.
When we think about menopause, we always focus on what it means for us or how it affects us, and that is perfectly acceptable because after all it is something that happens to us. But menopause doesn’t only affect us. The impacts are more far reaching than we might imagine.
Think about the people around you – your partner, children, parents, friends, work colleagues. Let’s not stop there, think about the impact on you at work – your performance, skills, and abilities. And if you’re a femperneur, what about the impact on your business – your clients, suppliers etc. How we experience menopause, how it makes us feel and behave can have far reaching consequences. My story is a prime example of the negative impact it had on my career and those around me.
At the time I went into perimenopause, age 47 or thereabouts, it wasn’t something we talked about – menopause has only recently been in the public eye – so I had no idea what was happening to me. I sought support as I’d started to suffer with anxiety and was feeling unhappy – very out of character as I’m usually a glass half full kind of girl!
I was working in the Civil Service and had joined a new team doing a new role. That was stress full enough, but the organisation was undertaking a large restructure and my new role was heavily involved. The team was a high performing group of people with lots more experience than me which put me on a back foot. I don’t know how you feel, but I always feel the need to justify my place on a team when I join and this pushes me to work even harder but also to question my ability at the same time. The team was also well-established and competitive – there definitely was an “I” in this “team”.
So here I was in a new role, a new team, a well-established and competitive team, at a time of huge uncertainty for the organisation feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing but thinking I had to prove myself. Everyone was busy and when I needed help, it was rarely given. A perfect storm. I battled on, working long hours, feeling more and more isolated and overwhelmed. I saw problems and conspiracies at every turn. I was also experiencing other weird feelings – not sleeping, putting on weight even though I was eating less, I’d get angry or upset easily. I just didn’t feel like me. I put all this down to stress which seems likely but didn’t think it could be anything else.
It all came crashing down around me one day when I felt completely incapable of making a decision – my brain fog was so bad I didn’t know how to turn on my computer. Even writing this now I can feel those uncomfortable butterflies kicking off, making me feel sick. I ended up in tears and completely broken. It was the quick thinking of a good friend who bundled me into a taxi and sent me home.
At home I phoned my doctor. I needed help. We talked and I broke down again when she asked if I could be depressed – YES that was it! My feelings had a name, and I wasn’t going crazy. So armed with a prescription for antidepressants and a “sick note” for time off to recuperate I felt so much better. I could explain my behaviour to my hubby who had been trying to support me but not knowing how!
I recognise now that it wasn’t just stress, it was perimenopause – I’d not put that equation together and interestingly neither had my doctor, but we know if we aren’t over 50 we are often turned away as “too young for menopause” or we’re treated for something else. I don’t blame my doctor, she did what I needed to get me back on an even footing emotionally but we overlooked everything else that was going on. Even the changes to my periods we put down to stress and overwhelm.
So how does this connect with what this blog is all about?
Very simply. Menopause has far reaching consequences, not just for us women. The department I was working with suffered due to my menopause –
- I wasn’t operating at my best.
- My performance took a nosedive. I couldn’t do my work quickly or well.
- My decision making was impaired. I couldn’t trust myself.
- My teammates (such as they were) had to step in to support me, to redo things I’d done wrong. Important projects got delayed.
- My manager had to give more time to support me, taking her away from the wider team.
I was metaphorically the pebble in the middle of that pool. The ripples impacted everyone and everything we did. The team went from delivering to constantly chasing its tail. I was powerless in the middle of this.
If you could be the best version of you, why wouldn’t you?
Right now, more than ever, it’s vital we try to show up as the best version of us more of the time. Not just for ourselves but for those around us. If you’re the pebble in the pool, where might the ripples lead?
- Relationship difficulties – arguments, upset, shouting and fights. Many relationships breakdown irreversibly through menopause.
- Upset children – they don’t want to see their parents’ fight. They won’t know how to relate to mum who can be all love and smiles one minute, and a bear with a sore head the next. They’ll start to withdraw, struggle at school or become harder to manage.
- Work difficulties – brain fog and mood swings can play havoc with our ability to perform at work with many women facing performance, absence or conduct reviews because of their erratic moods, difficulty concentrating, making mistakes or simply taking time off work to cope with menopause.
Menopause impacts everyone and everything around you – from your closest relationships to the economy at large! Yes, it can be that big and we just don’t see that as we’re up to our neck just dealing with our own s**t which is hard enough.
But if I said to you there is a better way, would you want to listen? Change is hard – menopause is the biggest change you may ever experience and that’s tough enough.
Is there a better way?
Yes 100% there is but we need to want it and make the move to tread that path. Taking the time now to learn about menopause and how it may (or is) affecting you is just the start. Investing in you, both time and money, so that you can understand how menopause could affect you and how it will impact others can be hard, especially in this economic climate, but I’m saying it’s a must have. If you want to be that amazing woman who has her “head together” and can be the leader she knows she is – think of the unicorn from my September video blog – then you must start right now and start with you. Here’s how things could be different
- Harmony – that’s the biggest benefit anyone can want. Harmony at home and at work because you’ll know you better and be able to deal with whatever menopause throws at you.
- Peace – with those around you, but more importantly with yourself which is often lost as we experience menopause. When you are at peace, then so is everyone around you.
- Calm – because all is in harmony and peaceful you will feel calmer and better able to deal with whatever comes your way.
- Success – this must be the big one! Yes, you can be successful in whatever you chose to do whether that’s as mum and/or in your career. No more worrying about your skills and abilities, no more confidence issues – just good solid success.
Take some time now to think about what showing up as the best version of you right now would feel like through every corner of your life. How fantastic would that be?
Who wouldn’t want to be that woman who always shows up in the best way possible more of the time. I guarantee your life and relationships will blossom and flourish in ways you cannot imagine right now in your menopause darkness.
If you want to be that woman – and like I say who wouldn’t – then I can help you and show you the path. The work is for you to do, but I can shine that touch and show you the way out of the tunnel that you feel you’re living in. Menopause is merely a tunnel where we might lose our way, but there will always be a light and a guide if you chose to grasp it.