"You’re not alone in feeling alone" – we were struck by this brilliant quote from the Davina McCall documentary “Sex, Mind and the Menopause”
It’s true that for many women the menopause can feel like an isolating experience, yet it’s something that so many of us are going through at the same time. It’s estimated that 13 million women in the UK alone are currently perimenopausal. So why does going through menopause sometimes trigger feelings of isolation and frustration for so many women?
The link between menopause and mental health
Being alone is not necessarily a bad thing if it’s what you want. The problems arise when you feel as though you are trapped in a state of being alone and the unwanted symptoms of menopause can be to blame.
While the physical symptoms like hot flashes and missed periods are well known and understood, many women find themselves unprepared for the impact of the psychological symptoms. Changes in hormones can impact your mental health and emotional well-being. Mood swings, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, irritability, feeling unhappy or depressed and feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope are all common symptoms of menopause. These psychological symptoms can be debilitating and have a serious effect on your quality of life.
You don’t feel like you anymore and you don’t know why
Many women report that they just don’t feel like themselves anymore and that they have become someone they don’t recognise. Perimenopause can be a confusing time which can increase feelings of isolation as women struggle to understand why they are feeling this way.
It can often be hard, particularly in perimenopause phase, when you may still be having regular periods, to realise that your hormones are to blame. Life can be pressured during this time of life, and it can often take a while to connect the dots and figure out what’s going on. Not feeling like yourself can cause you to retreat from friends and family when you need them the most.
You Don’t Feel Understood
Even when diagnosed, many menopausal women feel that family and friends may not always understand what they are going through or give them the support they need, and it can sometimes feel like a lonely time.
Things are starting to change, and menopause is being discussed much more in society, but there is still a long way to go before menopause is widely understood by everyone. Until recently it has been shrouded in secrecy and taboo, so women have been unprepared to cope with what is happening to them both physically and mentally. Friends and family can find it difficult to understand what you are going through and struggle to give you the support you need.
What can help you
Just like the ways we can try to manage our symptoms; we can also fight the feelings of isolation to help ourselves cope better.
Education is Everything during Menopause
There have been so many brilliant books and TV shows on menopause released recently – understanding what is happening is key to getting the help and support you need to cope and to get on top of your symptoms. If you haven’t watched the Davina McCall documentaries yet Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause - All 4 (channel4.com) and Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause - All 4 (channel4.com) we highly recommend that you do. Why not watch with your partner, family, or friends so they get a better understanding too?
Dr Louise Newson is a GP and menopause specialist, and her website is a brilliant source of information on the menopause and perimenopause - Balance - Homepage (balance-menopause.com)
Lisa Snowdon and Dr Naomi Potter have done an excellent live series on the menopause “Midweek Menopause Madness” Midweek Menopause Madness Series with Lisa Snowdon & Naomi Potter (menopausecare.co.uk) which can be found on both of their Instagram channels.
There have been many great books on menopause released recently. We love Kate Muir’s “Everything You Need to Know About the Menopause (but were too afraid to ask)”.
Find a Support Network
It can often feel as though you are going through this alone, but you really aren’t- there are 13 million of us menopausal women in the UK alone! Opening up to friends and sharing what you are going through can make the experience a lot more bearable and helps you feel that you are not alone. Building new friendships with women going through the same thing can be empowering. If you don’t want to do it in person there are so many online communities and groups for women going through menopause that can give you support. Why not join our online community through The Living Room, our private Facebook group?
Remember you are not alone in feeling alone – there is a whole community of menopausal women in the same situation and the more we can support one another, the better things will be for all of us.