You didn't choose to have the menopause, but you can choose HOW to have your menopause!
I was having lunch with a group of my networking friends a couple of weeks ago and we were brainstorming some ways to help women, and the simplest thing ocurred to me (and it never had before!) that you don't choose to have your menopause! You don't choose to feel low, miserable, irritated or overwhelmed. You don't choose to be knackered, achy, bloated, anxious or to have completely lost the art of sleep.
It was this that I realised separated out some women from others, those that choose to go on diets or to go to the gym - they choose to do it!
Our menopause is chosen for us the moment that cells start to divide in the womb. From the moment you are born there is never a single second in your life that you can think yes or no to this; and let's be honest you didn't even give it any thought until you started feeling like something was wrong, and that's ok. Why should you give it a second thought, it's something that happens and its something that shouldn't be an issue.
Now you've arrived at this point where symptoms are starting to surface, and for many that first one is a tiredness like you've never had before, and if this has already given rise to brain fog and overwhelm then you're already backfooted on thinking clearly how to deal with it.
Suddenly this bundle of symptoms is appearing and making you feel more like 80 than 40 something and the Dr hasn't been able to help you apart from suggesting you're peri or menopausal. Here you are at this point in your life, you have a whole multitude of things going wrong, you're shattered and without any say in the matter you are now 'menopausal'.
This is what I hadn't got! I hadn't thought about it in this way in all these years that I've been resolving symptoms for myself and for my clients. Seeing clients on a one to one basis means you don't see very many, not in the grand scheme of things. However, when you start to put information on line, hold talks, open up a facebook group and write a book that anyone can read, you start to hear stories like you've never heard before.
I've been in a bubble of my own making. I remember my dentist Mark (fabulous dentist!) telling me once, if he viewed the world through his eyes as a dentist, everyone had bad teeth; I never forgot that. The world I've been viewing menopause through is, that everyone is like me, proactive in sorting out their symptoms one at a time, however long it takes. Climing to the top of Mount Menopause to see the fantastic view from up there; no symptoms, where ever you look!
What I hadn't quite genuinely given thought to was the majority of women at the base of that mountain, looking up at it as an insurmountable climb that they had no energy or inclination to do. And furthermore - no choice in the matter. I know now that many of you are in the shadow of this looming precipice, this thing to 'get through', this rite of passage that seems insurpassable at this time, and so now I need to help you see your way through this.
INSPIRING RATHER THAN MOUNTAIN CLIMBING!
This maybe you right now, today, thinking: 'How am I going to get through this?', and 'When is it going to end?' 'Will I ever get my life back as I knew it?' And many more questions. You're thinking this from a point of view of not having been able to make a choice This puts you in the position that you feeling resentful at where you are now and not feeling able to let go of who you were, especially in favour of this current position you now find yourself in.
What I want to do for you today is to take the 'mountain' out of the picture for you and make it more of a gentle stroll through the woods. I don't want you to stand in the shadow of the peak and feel near exhausted at the thought of taking the next step up it.
I recently did a talk about 'Resetting Your Menopause', and it was based on a talk that had been designed a few months back with a company who wanted that agenda. She was like me, excited about reaching a symptom free life, she was stood at the summit of this mountain too- breathing that symptom free air. So was her boss, who advocated our talk as she was already up the mountain before us. When though I tried this talk out on women in general, it felt wrong! It felt like I was handing out the crampons and carabiners, casting up the ropes and then saying come on here's where you start climbing! And it only hit me the moment I'd finished the talk, it was too much to ask and it created the mountain, and cast the shadow and left women stood at the bottom feeling even more fatigued and overwhelmed than before.
All I can say is that I'm sorry, sometimes experts have to go through painful learning curves, we can't all get it right the first time, but what we usually have in common is that we keep trying. I choose to get up, dust myself off and find a way to help you stroll through your menopause with hope and positive thoughts, and not feel like it's an insurmountable climb!
The thing is I'm sometimes like a puppy with a new toy, I get so excited at the possibility of how good your menopause can be, because it can. What I need to remember though is that I'm on the other side of all those symptoms, they've all gone, it took me some time as I was finding my way through without any guide ropes; I just had my intution, my chinese medicine books and my curiosity to resolve all my symptoms naturally. 5 years ago I ticked 25 out of the then '34 symptoms' , and slowly I crossed them all off as they appeared and riled me!
HOW TO MAKE STEPPING INTO, THROUGH AND OUT OF THE MENOPAUSE MUCH EASIER FOR YOU
It starts with going back to seeing it from your view point, looking up at what's ahead and tapping into how you're feeling. HOW ARE YOU FEELING? I do genuinely like to know this!
I had overwhelm, I had brain fog, I remember those years, plus low moods, irritability and getting unnaturally emotional over everything. I took that into account when I designed my book 'Understanding Your Menopause' where I keep the information in short bites, and explain you can take it at a pace that suits you. Maybe what I should have said was that it is a bit like a recipe book where instead of cooking 8 great dishes you'll relieve 8 absolutely exasperating symptoms.
I didn't wake up one day saying right I'm going to fix my menopause, let's get started and then go hell for leather into a life changing regime. Nope! Didn't even have such a thought. What I did do though is think 'If I'm going to have my menopause now, HOW am I going to have it?'
And my answer to that was: 'I'm going to have a good one!'. I didn't at that time know how, but I did open my mind to the possibility that I could have a menopause that didn't cause me any issue. I had always been saying I'll be fine, I'm a therapist.
The funny thing was when I was thinking this, I already had these symptoms:
aches and slow recovery from sport
tiredness even though I slept a lot
So I wasn't actually in a great place, and on a day to day basis if I'm honest things were a struggle. I hadn't realised all of these things I was just 'putting up with' were united under the banner of 'perimenopause' (I'd never heard the term - see I knew less than you do! And I was part of the 86% of women that didn't know how menopause was going to affect them). I was a complete novice, but I had the thought 'how can I have a good menopause', mainly because I'm pants at putting up with pain of any sort, or lack of sleep I just don't function so I couldn't even give a thought to those things happening to me.
YOU CAN'T CHOOSE NOT TO HAVE YOUR MENOPAUSE BUT YOU CAN CHOOSE HOW TO HAVE YOUR MENOPAUSE
Once you think 'how can I have a good menopause?' , your walk along the path of transition has started, that is your first change. You have switched from begrudgement that this is happening to you, to having a choice - and that is empowering.
You can now choose - 'do I want to stay on this path, with these symptoms and dread what comes next?' OR 'do I want to choose to have a good menopause?' Don't worry about the 'how' , that will come, just make this first choice. I'll give you a minute.
Made a choice?
If you've made the choice to have a good menopause, this is now filed into your memory banks, you can reinforce it by replaying that you choose to have a good menopause. Another plus is that you will feel better as you've been allowed to choose your own path, then... the universe steps in!
You will start to see ideas, advice, and information in life that will point you in the direction you have now chosen to go. This is what happened to me; I thought one day, I wonder if my books can help me, and then another day another thought, and then another, until 4 years later it's so ingrained in me to seek menopause information whether I have symptoms or not. It is a transition of a woman's body that is so complex I'm not sure I will ever stop learning but I enjoy it so much that this isn't an issue.
I hope now that you have found that you can make a choice about your menopause and that the decision of how you have it is in your hands helps you can take the next step to resolving the symptoms that you do have. The internet though is a confusing place, and getting tips from groups and advice from friends can lead you straight back into the quagmire of overwhelm, so here's the next simple step to take: follow a defined plan for relieving your symptoms.
It is not a rite of passage that you must pass through years of sleep deprivation, anxiety and hot flushes to arrive on the other side feeling exhausted but victorious. The rite of passage is to have transitioned to post menopause and wondered if it had ever happened - that is where the victory truly is :)
Where are you at right now? Do you have symptoms? Are they starting to stack up and get you down? If like me a few years back you having mounting symptoms your next step is to ask: 'how do I resolve them?'. This is where I come in with a plan that works. It worked for me (slowly as I had to feel my way through as I was learning), but it's worked for clients that I saw face to face, and then more impressively clients who I took through an online programme (this was the first time I'd helped women without the support of my therapy Shiatsu), and then finally where I've distilled this plan into my book 'Understanding Your Menopause',
It hit me recently that my book is just like a recipe, a single recipe where you step through the chapters and alleviating your major symptoms as you read and take action. The final chapter is the culmination meaning that you may never get hot flushes, or if you currently have them, to alleviate them. If you have mild to moderate symptoms stepping through exactly how the book is laid out will help you change how you're feeling in a matter of weeks. When you relieve your symptoms you will start to feel better, and then it is intrinsically linked that you will start to feel happier, and then you can be confident in the knowledge that you made the right choice :)
Here's the thing, you have the choice right now to do nothing, to sit with the thoughts in your head of 'I don't know that it will work, nothing else has' or 'I just have to suffer through this it's what life is really like' or you can take a punt, which starts with the thought 'ooooh, I like the idea of resolving my menopause symptoms by following a laid out, planned recipe by someone who has done the research and testing and has the insight and information that I need to make fantastic changes in my life!'
What a choice to make?!?!!
READ MORE ABOUT 'UNDERSTANDING YOUR MENOPAUSE' by Andrea, Cotswold Menopause
Look what's inside: