Why is this so hard? I feel as though the ground has shifted from beneath me, anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, hot flushes, unpredictable periods, tearfulness, lack of sleep and my motivation is on the floor.
How am I going to get through?
It feels like the end of life as I know it.
Is that it? Am I ‘past it’? No longer able to take up my place in society, of little value in this world where youth, speed, and output are rated so highly?
This is the feeling of many women as they go through the stage of peri-menopause, through to menopause. It can all feel quite hopeless. I know - I’ve experienced this.
Unfortunately, much of our society doesn't respect this time in a woman's life, doesn't provide support, doesn't offer a different story.
I remember I tried to ignore it initially, pretend it wasn't happening, but that didn't work for long. It didn’t go away and so I faced it and started to look at how to support myself at this time, how to experience menopause in a different way, a way that would feel more empowering.
So just how do you navigate this ever changing time in your life?
Firstly, recognise that peri-menopause is a transition, and like any transition in life there are different phases. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It can help to take notice of where you are in this transition, then you can get the support you need as you move through. Know that you do not have to do this alone. You can shift between these phases so it is not always a linear experience.
Ending of a chapter, feelings of loss, grief, anger, anxiety, as though the ‘ground has shifted from beneath you’ are normal at this time. Past trauma, old wounds, and unresolved issues can come up and need resolution. It is time for you to create some space and take care of your own needs.
Letting go a releasing of the old story, of societal messages that don’t work for you, of things that are not serving you. What roles have you been playing that you are willing to release in order to create space for the future you? Where could you clear out items and ways of being that no longer feel aligned?
During these phases it's particularly important to have compassion for yourself and all that you are feeling, your feelings are perfectly natural and valid. Reach out and get the support that you need. It might be helpful to work through things with a therapist at this time.
A Neutral phase, not knowing what comes next, you have let go and don't yet know what your future looks like. It can feel unsettling. You’ve left the shores of the familiar island you’ve been on for many years and are now somewhere in the middle of the ocean, not yet having a clear view of the new destination. It can be tempting to try and go back but you’ve come this far and when you look back the island you left is no longer there.
Ride the waves rather than fighting against them. Take this time slowly, rest, and replenish yourself regularly. Pay attention to what's going on in your body. What do you need?
What practices do you have in place that nourish you and help to manage any symptoms you may be experiencing? What helps you to replenish and soothe at this time?
Which foods are you eating to support you? Are you getting the nutrients that allow your body to do it’s best for you at this time while undergoing these changes?
This is time to really start to connect with what you need and what is important to you.
In part 2 I talk about the phase of a ‘New Beginning’.
(Recognition to the work of William Bridges and Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer of Red School on transitions)