The Impact of Menopause on Identity
2nd Mar 22
The menopause used to be referred to as ‘The Change’, this feels like a much more appropriate and defining term.
With change comes loss and vice versa. Kubler Ross’s stages of grief resonate with any form of loss.
We don’t get to choose when the menopause kicks in, why wouldn’t the initial stage be one of denial, confusion and overwhelm? The feelings of numbness allow us the space and safety until we are able to make sense of what is happening.
Anger is an accepted emotion when managing loss, which can be targeted towards those closest to us and prompt us to also turn against ourselves.
When there is the ability to understand triggers and reasons for anger this can be liberating and allow us to step back. The menopause has zero interest in making deals, this is not a process of negotiation and any bargaining is futile.
There is value in accepting the varying changes, symptoms and effects during the menopause as they unfold. A period of reflection can be thrust upon us which in turn brings sadness, depression and mourning about who we once were.
Arriving at a point of acceptance of who we have become is a process, not a linear one and doesn’t happen overnight.
Maximising Menopausal Mind Power
‘Brain fog’ is a common and recognised affliction during menopause, one which can cause a great deal of distress and self doubt. Although discombobulating maybe this is Mother Nature’s way of decluttering our minds, clearing space for the next chapter.
Changes to memory and capacity to hold a thought is not uncommon but there are techniques to maximise mind power and recall. I am a woman of lists, both professionally and personally to a greater extent during the menopause and has continued. Any learning gives the grey matter a boost but equally reading, writing, puzzles and games also support self care for the mind.
Shifting your mindset from a reactive to a responsive state can help when struggling with problem solving and decision making, going through a process of self questioning allows us to step back and make measured considered decisions. These can be done on paper initially but then become second nature.
- What is the issue / Decision?
- Identify any gains / benefits or risks?
- Survey What / Who could help?
- Explore What worked / didn’t work before?
- Discern What is in my control / out of my control?
The Value of Post Menopause
The exciting journey of self discovery begins. Where do you want to go? Who do you want to see? What do you want to do? Having the courage to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things may be daunting and not always work out but some things just might.
The beauty of post menopause is not being swept along by the influence of others, refusal and assertion skills are often paramount during this phase. Journaling is a great way to begin the process of self exploration. Which women provided positive influence and inspiration throughout your life? What were the qualities you admired? These women may be icons or women closer to your own doorstep.
Reflective journaling can allow you to take a step back and be the narrator of your own story. It can help to use a writing style that appeals to you, fairytale, drama, gothic horror, whatever feels comfortable. It’s your narrative and you get to choose how the story unfolds going forward.
Connecting with yourself and writing lists focusing on who you are and what you like can help trigger aspirations and ambitions.
- The people who cheer you up.
- Your treasured possessions.
- Three items you would take to a desert island.
- How you have fun.
- Your dream holiday destinations.
- Difficult experiences that have helped you become the person you are today.
- Your best personality traits.
- What or who makes you laugh?
- Any regrets.
- How would you spend a lottery win of £3 million pounds.
- Your achievements.
It is important to remember that post menopausal women are not lethargic zombies stumbling through life but vital women embracing new experiences. There are often more rewarding experiences to be had in later years with newfound emotional maturity and wisdom.
Mary Wesley did not publish her bestselling novels until in her 70’s, which then became hugely successful and popular television series. There is a boldness to women in this new chapter of their lives and it is my belief that the menopause is the conduit for this to happen.
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