Midlife opens a door for a positive shift in self-confidence and assuredness but very often for women, the opposite is true.
Perimenopause causes physical challenges for many women, but what is not often talked about are the mental health issues that arise.
Quite often they are first to raise their heads and are mistakenly viewed as being problems in their own right instead of symptoms of early menopause.
While physical symptoms like hot flashes are commonly discussed, the psychological challenges arising during perimenopause, such as depression and anxiety, are not given enough attention.
These symptoms can significantly interfere with our work and businesses. Unfortunately, there is a lack of open information on how to support women through perimenopause in the workplace.
In this episode I talk about my experience with these challenges, and why it’s important that we debunk societal stigmas, and encourage open discussions to ensure women receive the necessary support and understanding during this phase of our lives.
We are far more empowered when we focus on our psychology and mindset through midlife through the lens of our changing body and brain.
Join me as we bring these subjects out into the open and step into a powerful phase of life.
Full Episode Transcript
Kia ora my friends, I really do hope you’re doing well this episode I wanna dive into the deeper promise that’s available to us in midlife and why I’m doing this is because I’ve been doing some research for my midlife reset course that I am developing, and that is gonna be coming out in a beta around very soon.
So if you’re keen to jump on that, let me know via email, because I’m gonna run it for a small group initially so that you can help me refine the course to be the most amazing course for women in mid midlife. And the course is primarily focused on mindset, our thoughts, our psychology, our emotions, how we see ourselves in the world, our beliefs.
And I’ve been doing some research for the course, like I said, and all I keep seeing out there in the online course world is courses about how to change your physicality, how to lose the meno belly how to get rid of all of the, you know, the horrible symptoms that sometimes arrive with perimenopause, how to reduce the night sweats, how to, a lot of them are around how to lose weight, how to build muscle, how to gain vitality and energy.
And whilst I think they are very important, I do see us sometimes moving towards that kind of course because the other stuff. The psychology, the mental health issues that arise during perimenopause that maybe haven’t been around prior to that, they just seem too hard or they’re not talked about. So we don’t realize that these issues arise because of perimenopause, and it is astounding and not in a good way about how much perimenopause symptoms interfere with our careers, our work and our business. And cause in a lot of ways, going through this journey is only just starting to be taken seriously now and not to be something that we would blame ourselves for and hide away from discussing with other people.
So we don’t really have a lot of open information about how to support women through perimenopause in the workplace, in their business, in their careers. And the research I did for my talk that happened at Tahi last week, the age range.
For women in New Zealand who are in that age range of, I think it was 42 to 55 from the 2018 census, and this is just from memory, there were 474,000 women in New Zealand in that age range. So a large percentage of those women may be going through perimenopause. And what’s really tricky that I have found for women and the feedback that we got from the event was that
We do understand about hot flushes, insomnia, low energy, increase of headaches, weight gain, all of those sort of physical symptoms. But what is less talked about is the mental health issues and challenges that arise and. There’s a large percentage of women that experience mental health issues through perimenopause, and a large percentage of that group of women have never had these mental health issues in their life before.
And so I’m talking about here depression, anxiety, panic attacks, low mood, irritability, and anger. And also there was some stats around feelings of worthlessness. And really, honestly, it can be a bit of a shit show and you sometimes are experiencing these symptoms before you realize that perimenopause is on the table.
And that was my experience. I think I went straight from having my child, my second child at 37 into perimenopause. I had some, some times of. Not having my period of my cycle changing. And I had significant fluctuations in my mood and my capacity to just get on with life and be resilient. And of course I had a little baby then, so it was put down to that and it was a lot of that, but I never really transitioned out of that
difficulty, it seems that my body went straight into a slow perimenopausal stage very early on. And so I think that this does happen for a lot of women, like you’ve got the symptoms arising or just less capacity to show up and push through power through like you’ve, you know, done so well in your life before your capacity for that has lowered.
And maybe you’re noticing some more anxiety arising, maybe some lower mood, but you are not automatically connecting that with the possibility of that. Maybe this is the star of perimenopause. And one clear signal that I understand that perimenopause is starting is that our cycles the. Timing of our cycles.
If they were very regular, like clockwork, say every 28 days, then that cycle that starts to change, the timing starts to change. So they might, you might have a short cycle, long cycle, short cycle and some variation in there. So that’s often one of the first physical symptoms. But very often from the research that I was doing is the mental health
symptoms can show up very, very early as well. So I think that’s something to be really aware of as a woman. I would say from your early forties, I, I probably had that slightly maybe a year or two early. And this, you know, that was very early menopause for me, but it’s not wholly uncommon. Quite a few women go through that and
I didn’t think I’d have to face into menopause. It’s really interesting around my languaging, isn’t it? Face into menopause. This dreaded thing that my mother never ever talked about. But I saw her go through it. I saw her go through the difficulties. I saw her spend a lot more time in her bed, resting in her bedroom.
I saw her having a lot more headaches, which interestingly, I had a bit of a pattern of myself through perimenopause, and I saw her want to divorce my stepdad. At the time she didn’t, but they went through some difficult times. So I didn’t think I’d have to be thinking, considering wondering about menopause until I hit nearly 50.
But by the time I was 42, my periods had stopped and they never came back. And the bloods that I did, the tests that I did according to my doctor, showed that I was well into menopause and that took some adjusting as it does. Right. And so I worked really hard on the physical symptoms and the mental stuff that was coming up for me was an increase in anxiety and a lot of sleep interruption.
And you know right as a woman that if you have. As a human, sleep is so important for us. It’s so reparative. It so builds up our resilience that if our sleep has been interrupted, then all hell breaks loose with other symptoms that are going on for us mental health-wise, physically. And so I was trying to get a handle on the physical stuff that was going on for me, and I’ve spoken a bit about that journey in other podcast episodes, but I did do a lot of natural therapy and then later on I had my eyes open to the possibilities of bioidentical h r t or m h t.
And have been doing that for the last two years, and that was the thing that has consistently changed my sleep and some of the other physical symptoms that I was experiencing. Now it’s not for everyone. I believe some people can’t take it. Some people can’t tolerate it, but it is absolutely worth
looking into, if you’re a woman who has been, you know, you’re struggling with peri menopausal symptoms, and I’m very hopeful I’m gonna be able to get somebody on the podcast very, very soon to talk about this with us Bio, H R T, I mean, so there’s a lot of promise for moving into the second stage of our life as a woman in terms of our empowerment in terms of throwing off the
gender conditioning that we’ve all been subjected to, but before that, through this perimenopausal phase, there can be a significant increase in mental health challenges. And that’s tough because I, I think it’s not probably talked about enough and it may well not be identified readily enough. By our local gp, unless they’re really well versed with menopause and perimenopause.
It’s often not linked. You know, if you are having to rise in anxiety and say you’re in your early forties, it’s not often linked from the women I’ve talked to and from what I’ve heard that is not often linked to, maybe this is perimenopause and sometimes it takes a woman who knows us, knows us well, who’s in our circle, who says like I have done to one or two friends.
Hey mate, do you think this could be perimenopause? Maybe it’s worth checking out because context matters, right? If I’m just having anxiety coming out of nowhere and arising in my life for no reason, then I’m probably going to go down a different path than if I’m having anxiety arising in my life. But it’s because I’m entering that perimenopausal phase and my hormones are fluctuating, and that’s creating some shifts, a lot of rock and roll and transition in my brain.
Then that’s gonna see me down a different path. Yeah. So I do think it’s really important to be mindful of this. From our forties, but also, you know, for some women earlier and what stops us from being open to this is a possibility to even seeing it, I think, anyway. What causes us to have our blinkers on.
Is our gender conditioning is conditioning around what menopause means around the conditioning of what menopause meant for our mothers. What society thinks of menopause, what society overall generally thinks of the post-menopause or women. If fire, I was to say to you, crone, the word crone. What do you imagine?
Right. The crone is obviously connected to the postmenopausal woman, but there’s so many negative connotations with menopause. I do remember seeing in the in the Daily News it, which is our local newspaper or was. I don’t even know if they still publish it, but in any case, it was quite a long time ago, maybe five to seven years ago, and they, they did an article on menopause and the picture of the woman.
In the photo to me, to my mind, and I admit I was probably quite defensive at the time, was really derogatory. She looked really disheveled, down beat. She had her head in her hand. She looked gray and gray as pallor not vital. And like I said, I’ll admit, it probably triggered me because I was going through menopause.
I didn’t wanna be seen as that, but that was another great learning for me. Right. If so much of our identity is wrapped up in how we appear, how we appear to. People in the outside world, our level of attractiveness, there is so much value placed on a woman as a fertile being as a woman in her fertile years, whether or not she has children.
There is such a structure around valuing women for their reproduction. And so then when we moved beyond that. And these are, these are structures, these are beliefs that are in the shadows, right? We don’t really talk about this all that much, but it is a really, really important conversation to have because we carry that inside of ourselves as well.
It’s not just out there. We’ve taken on those beliefs about the post-menopausal woman ourselves. We are so obsessed with youth in our culture, in our westernized culture, and we have internalized much of those belief systems. So when you come into perimenopause yourself or menopause, there often is a fight to get back to the way I was, to maintain a.
Level of physical appearance, physical youth, I’m gonna say, I mean, people would say attractiveness, right? But it’s not re it’s not really because what is attractive attractiveness is defined from our societal conditioning. There’s such a push to stay really young. And whilst I am all for staying vital for.
For being resilient, for being active, for feeling energized, for feeling central within ourselves, you know, this life force flowing through us. That is what I mean by when I say that. What we are often confronted with as women is that peace around. Will I no longer be valued when I’m post-menopausal? When I’m say over 50.
That we have internalized our society’s conditioning around age and ageism for women, and we carry that inside of ourselves. What’s that quote? I, I included in my talk was something like, as men age, they become distinguished. As women age we become diminished. All of this, all of this is showing up in me. And it’s definitely been my process and I’ve still got a long way to go with it, of course, because like you, I’m a product of my conditioning.
I’m a product of the culture I live in. But what I wanna invite us to do is to. Yep. There’s the, there’s the, the, the food that we eat, the exercise that we do, the pleasure that we take, the relaxation that we do and take and receive. And there’s also our beliefs, our beliefs about aging, our beliefs about ourself, how we really feel about ourselves.
Perimenopause is an amazing time for because, because you’re moving from one. Developmental stage into another, things get, can get a bit looser within our psyche. You know, things get a bit more shaken up. So it can be a time when themes from our early life, traumas from our early life. Attachment issues, ways that we weren’t cared for in the way that we needed to the fullest of what we needed.
They can start to show up again within us, within our thoughts, within our anxieties, within our, you know, Challenges that we’re having in life. And so this time can be a time where things start to come undone a little bit, but it’s, it’s very, very hopeful. I think it’s a very hopeful time because with support and with more conversation, I know so many of you out there are wanting to have this conversation.
We can actually move into the most empowered phase of our life, but. What I’m trying to say is I don’t think that we are able to do that to move into the most empowered phase of our life. If we are just looking at what we eat, how we move, the exercise that we do, and how we look, I think that we need to do deeper inquiry on yourself, on who am I?
What do I value? Do I value that because I’m still being a good girl? Cause this is what I was taught? Or do I value this because this is inherently so, so important to me as a human being and I want to bring more of this into the world. Whatever the values are for you. And so we, we definitely do have to, well, we don’t have to, but we can.
Look back on our life, on our conditioning, on some of the traumas or some of the culture of our family, our society that we lived in and through and do a bit of a edit on. Do I really wanna keep that going forward? Is that still important for me? Is this in the second part of my life? Do I want to continue?
Talking to myself like that. Do I wanna continue labeling myself in that way? These are all very important questions, and I really think we need to be talking more about them with other women or other people that are willing to listen, to not judge, to not give us advice, to not tell us what way to go, but to hear us and to hear our process and our musings and to be there for us.
Because you’ll, you’ll work it through as you talk it, as you speak it to someone that can hold that space for you, that can be in presence for you. You will work through that stuff and I, I don’t know, is this sounding long-winded and tedious? I’m not sure. It doesn’t, for me, for me, it actually sounds really, really exciting because I get to, it’s not really reinvent myself.
I get to actually lean into that feisty. Young person who like pre puberty, I’m talking, she had so much agency, she was feisty, she was happy, she was sad, she learned how to speak up for herself. There are elements of that that are want to come through for you in perimenopause, menopause in midlife, and this is what’s possible for us.
But we can’t keep all those old structures and move into a. New self or a more authentic self is a better way to talk about it. We actually have to examine those structures and think about which ones we want to tear down, which ones we wanna destroy, and some of them we will want to keep. And I think this is best done in community with conversations, with hearing about other women’s experiences.
So talk to your friends, my friend. About what is going on for you? I try and be pretty transparent about my journey with menopause and I’m, you know, I’m happy to. Talk about my experience, the good and the bad. I’ve been on the other side of menopause for quite a long time now, and so I’m much more into that really steady phase where I’m not having the up and down fluctuations of hormones because I did go through it earlier.
So that that part where it was such a struggle is, is behind me. And a lot of time when I was going through that, I didn’t actually know that that’s what it was. So yeah, talk to. Talk to the women around you. Let’s have more conversations. Let’s make our belief in ourself, our own experience of agency in the world, our own experience of ourself.
Just as important as the physical stuff, as the exercise, the food, the diet. Let’s make the mindset stuff just as important and just as valuable cuz it is gonna give you the fuel. That is gonna create your most empowered next stage of your life. Whether or not, you know, you might be struggling with physical stuff right now.
And so when that’s going on, it’s really hard to lean into more of the psychology around growing into that second stage of life. So that’s where, if that’s happening for you, then get some support to get a lot of that physical stuff managed. Sorted helped. Doesn’t need to be sorted a hundred percent, but when you’ve got a bit more stability coming through there through whatever avenue you want to go, natural, mainstream, bit of both, then you can up open up to this promise of, okay.
What is this next part of my life gonna be? What works for me? What doesn’t work for me? What haven’t I engaged in? Where haven’t I been brave in my life? Where I want to be brave or creative, or more loving or more playful? Whatever it is for you, it’s your life, it’s your journey. But there are women around you who are thinking the same things, who are going through the same things, and I bet who wanna support you?
All right, my friends. That is my case for giving some focus to our psychology through midlife, our mindset through mid midlife in a very, very practical way. Hope that’s been helpful. Reach out to me if any of this has landed for you. I really do love having those conversations with women, going through this similar stuff about what, you know, what’s helped you, what’s met with your experience, because we are growing a supportive community even through this.
And that is just so helpful for us as women because we shouldn’t be alone through this journey. Yeah, go well and I’ll talk to you next week. Bye for now.