Today marks the start of World Menopause Awareness Month
So I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain why I’ve started talking about menopause a whole lot more, and the decision I’ve taken to focus my business on helping women who are navigating it.
As someone who’s always looked ‘young’ for my age, and been lucky enough to be independent, and basically do what the fuck I liked most of the time, I didn’t really give perimenopause a second thought.
It was something that happened to ‘older’ women, and not something I thought would affect me.
Something that old women referred to in vague and cryptic whispers, behind closed doors.
Something to be feared, which I was 100% not on board with, or even remotely interested in.
Which is odd for a 48 year old Health Coach, who mostly coached women over 45 😳
I may have been in denial about aging.
Then, around 18 months ago, my ignorance up and slapped me right in the face.
Subtlety at first, just a little tickle.
First came the irritability, and daytime naps, like an overgrown toddler.
Closely followed by dips in energy, a lot of unnecessary tears and prickly skin.
My body began to feel alien to me, I would get pins and needles, shooting pains, and epic fucking headaches.
I would get extreme sensory overload.
I can’t stand to be in a room where the ‘big light’ is on, as well as the TV, and different noises coming out of phones and various other devices….it literally felt like someone was sticking pins in me, over and over again.
But that was nothing compared to the fuckery that was about to come – a triple whammy of insomnia, hot flushes and anxiety, oh my (I definitely was NOT in Kansas anymore Toto).
Each of those symptoms handily feeding into the other to create the perfect breeding ground of THE WORST internal trash talk I’ve ever experienced (as someone with a ‘different’ brain, this is some fucking statement, believe me).
What is the point of me anymore?
No one needs me, I don’t have anything useful to contribute to society.
I’ll never be myself again.
I’ll never do anything extraordinary again
I felt like a pencil drawing that was slowly being rubbed out over time.
The anxiety was crippling.
I couldn’t make any decisions cos I was so fucking afraid of saying/doing/being the wrong thing.
I couldn’t go outside to go for a walk, or go to the shop.
I just didn’t trust myself or anything that came out of my mouth.
I would have fits and starts of doing all the health behaviours I KNOW work.
Eating well, getting exercise, consistent bedtimes, staying hydrated.
But I just didn’t have the energy, capacity, and let’s face it, I just didn’t have the fight in me to keep them up.
But you know why I FINALLY went to the doctors?
The hot flushes.
Cos that’s perimenopause right?? 😒
And no one will take any of those other symptoms seriously.
Let me remind you again – I’m a Health Coach – I know way more than the average person. But I still didn’t know why the hell this was happening to me.
So after finally getting some HRT, and starting to feel some relief from some of the symptoms, I started to get angry (not in a hormonal way 😬).
The way I saw it, you can’t win.
You either say nothing, fade into the background, suffer in silence, and become invisible.
Or you educate yourself, hang onto every fucking thread of your self esteem you can, get angry, learn to advocate for yourself and be seen as an ‘angry and bitter older woman’.
Or you give zero fucks. If perimenopause is gonna put me outside of my comfort zone, why not go there on my own terms?
If I’m uncomfortable anyway, why not do shit that scares me? Say what I like, be what I like, wear what I like, do whatever ridiculous shit I fancy.
Only to be seen as the batty old midlifer who’s lost her shit, the butt of all the ‘hormonal woman’ jokes 🙄
And have people ask ‘are you ok hun?’ 😳
Yes, that actually happened to me, when I decided to pull myself out of my perimenopausal slump by signing up to 15 Ultra Challenges in one year.
These can’t be the only choices.
While I was doing my research around perimenopause (cos you have to do don’t you, where the fuck else is this info coming from), the rage started to build.
Being a veteran of the health & fitness industry, I’m used to all the bullshit marketing I see about ‘dropping a dress size, blasting belly fat’ and drinking special tea that makes you shit yourself.
But the menopause health stuff??
Holy fucking shit – way to latch on to a vulnerable population and absolutely fucking rinse them.
Gone are the pink and fluffy, pert little tits and juicy peachy butts of general fitness marketing.
Oh no love, you’re over 40 now dontcha know?
It’s all about ‘meno belly’, saggy skin, thinning vaginas, and avoiding exercise cos we’re all delicate, brittle ladies who are ‘sensitive to stress now, all wrapped up in an insipid ‘menopause mauve’ package (no bow though, too ‘girly’).
That was it, my mind was made up.
I decided to change my focus to ONLY helping women over 40 to make the most of this opportunity to examine their health.
To show them that we can still do extraordinary things.
Excited about my new messaging, I cracked on with writing some posts, setting up a new Facebook group and generally telling the world
a) what I thought about this shitshow and
b) how I was gonna use all my hard won skills and qualifications to help women feel good in this stage of their lives.
But there was a problem I didn’t foresee.
I noticed I wasn’t posting as often.
My messaging wasn’t as strong.
I felt reluctance to show I related to my intended audience.
I couldn’t understand why.
I had the skills, knowledge, experience and confidence in my abilities to know, with 100% certainty I could help these women.
I had my own personal experience to know I could coach them with empathy and sensitivity.
So why wasn’t I putting myself out there?
After some journaling, and a chat with my coach, I’m ashamed to say I figured it out.
Based on the marketing I’d seen, the ‘jokes’ I’d heard, and let’s face it – the shit on my social media feed…I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I was a menopausal woman.
I didn’t want to be seen as ‘difficult’ ‘hormonal’, ‘unattractive’ or past my sell by date.
I’m not proud of that, but it does highlight a HUGE part of the fucking problem!
I want to be part of the solution.
So I’ve just had to get over my fucking self and deal with it.
Something that would be a lot easier if the narrative about older women was different – I’ll save that soapbox for another day.
That’s why I’m starting with helping women over 40 remember who the fuck they are.
To show you:
That you DO have autonomy over your health.
That perimenopause can be the catalyst you need to change your life for the better.
That you can still go on adventures.
That you are more than your menopause.
So that’s me, ‘coming out’ with my warts and all perimenopause, my HRT, and my declaration to try and help women (and the rest of the world) feel differently about this stage of our lives.
It’s uncomfortable as fuck, but lead from the front right? 😬
If you feel shit, if you feel confused, angry, tearful, lost, mad, joyless, unattractive, useless – any and all of those things?
I AM HERE FOR IT, and you.
If you’re fresh outta fucks, and ready to do something different with your health, physical, mental and emotional, it’s time to join us.