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Aussie Life Challenges

Menopause, we need to talk!

This afternoon on my way home from work, I considered throwing myself in front of the Northgate train as it pulled into platform 3, but even though physics is not my strong point, I knew that the train was moving too slowly to cause my instant death.

I considered having to live with the consequences of such a poor choice, inwardly telling myself to snap out of it. This was not the first time I’d thought about how I would end my life if I made the decision to do so; after watching the recent film A Star is Born, my thoughts turned to our own garage and how easy it would be to rig up the same ending.

Does having these thoughts of ending my life make me suicidal? Don’t we all have a thought like this at some time or another during our lives? What brought me to such thoughts was a concoction of events throughout the last few weeks and an emotional week at work was just the icing on the proverbial.

During a leadership forum I learned of the incredible survival story of a woman who tried to end her own life by jumping off Story Bridge (in Brisbane). It was August 2012, and she was suffering not from mental illness, but from a crisis of confidence which led to her life unravelling in just ten days. She was pulled out of the river by a passing ferry, with five fractured vertebrae, a broken rib and a lacerated liver. Lucky to survive such a fall, she now uses her incredible survival story to coach others on resilience and wellbeing – it was an inspirational story.

Later in the week, I attended a training course and the facilitator recounted her near death experience following the birth of her twins. She nearly bled to death and it was the generosity of blood donors who saved her life. The way she recounted her story, how she could see her healthy new babies but knew she was staring death in the face had us all in tears.

What with one-thing-and-another, it was a terrible week. I’ve been feeling anxious, stressed, sad, miserable, ravenous, worthless, useless, unable to sleep and hot…oh! so hot! Turns out that these are some of the symptoms of perimenopause which have all come to me as a total shock. Why was I not prepared for this transition in my life? As little girls we are prepared for the onslaught of womanhood by our mums (I remember a book), aunties, grandmothers. sisters, school and friends, but when it comes to exiting the other end, it’s all a bit of a hotch potch. Yes I know what it’s all about, and I know what’s happening to me but no one talks about this shit and I’m wondering why. Sure when I mention symptoms to other women my age or older they’ll relate their own experiences, providing me with useful nuggets of information such as ”You’ve got ten years of this” or ”I didn’t even notice it happening”; but no one sat me down like that little girl, no one gave me a book and no one forewarned me of the impact it would have on my life. What I do know is that this transition can be totally different for every woman – there is not one peri-menopause experience the same.

What I have learned is that how you navigate this change is greatly affected by how you have looked after yourself in previous years in terms of diet and fitness, mental health and spiritual health – they all have an impact on the balance of our hormones and depending on how out of kilter they are, determines the impact of perimenopausal symptoms. So for instance, I am a stress head; I’m always worrying and stressing about something – usually completely out of my control and mostly made up in my head. As a result of the stress and anxiety I live with, IT MIGHT BE contributing to the awful hot flushes I’m experiencing.

What is a hot flush? Hot flushes occur due to changes in the body’s thermoregulatory system, which regulates body temperature and maintains it within a certain range. It is thought that hot flushes are triggered by hormonal changes, more specifically, the rapid decline in oestrogen.

So what does the body’s thermoregulatory system look like – IN MY HEAD?

This is what normal body temperature looks like – the thermoregulatory system – IN MY HEAD
And my broken thermoregulatory system

Turn your attention to the adrenal glands for a moment; responsible for producing cortisol, the stress response hormone – it’s what our bodies need for the flight or fight response – which ever category you sit in. Turns out my body is probably constantly producing cortisol, leaving it no time to produce the balancing hormone progesterone. Accodring to a podcast I’ve been listening to, a study a few years ago found that the one intervention which had the greatest impact on a woman’s perimenopause symptoms was meditation. During meditation, our adrenal glands have time to rest, in turn allowing our hormones time to balance out.

Thankfully there is plenty of help available on the internet with podcasts, videos, websites and blogs a-plenty. I have learned several strategies to help with my symptoms and the first one to try is meditation – not something I have ever done before but I’m prepared to give it a go – eliminating stress from my life will certainly make a difference – won’t it?

Donna Thistlethwaite, the woman who survived the jump off Story Bridge, now practices gratitude every day; with her friends, they text each other the three things they are grateful for that day – I can see how that simple practice would set you up with positivity every day.

So with gratitude, meditation, a healthy diet and a hand-held fan, I might just be able to control the hormones who choose to play havock with me – I’ll keep you posted!

12 replies on “Menopause, we need to talk!”

Great great post.
I love you tone and the info.
Thank you – I’m grateful I read it 😉

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That would be lovely to exchange in the future.
Luckily, I haven’t had to deal with menopause yet – I’m 46 – but I’m not really looking forward to yet. The impact it seems to have on the mental well-being scares me to be honest.
The meditation and daily gratitude discipline is something I really want to get into.
Have a great day,
Love from France.

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