If you are hoping to find practical advice on how to deal with those 35+ potential symptoms of menopause or whether to use HRT or not, this is not the place. However, if you want to survive menopause and feel in control of your future, I’m going to share seven steps to help you take back control.
Your unique menopause journey
Many of you most certainly know more than me about menopause, especially as this passage is so individual.
But if you have ever wondered if there is a reason behind the menopause – I don’t mean the natural decay of fertility, I mean a deeper sense; some kind of hope-giving meaning – then let’s have a chat!
I am talking about a ‘raison d’etre’.
Something that would allow us women to use it as a surf board to ride more smoothly through the different waves of this wild and unpredictable storm.
Something that we could all be rewarded with at the end for our patience, endurance and quite frankly martyrdom!
Well, I’ve found mine!
My answer to surviving menopause
“How is that even possible?”, I hear you laugh and snort sarcastically.
My steps to survive menopause may not be your answer or your best friend’s, but they are mine. They help me immensely and could help you too.
But let me start at the beginning.
“I am getting old”, was my initial dread when signs started to appear. At the same time women in all circumstances started to randomly tell me about their menopause.
I felt like shouting “shush, be quiet. I am not ready to hear this!”.
Could this really be it? The fun of childhood. The emotional roller coaster of teenage years. A bit of fun. A hint of a career. A minute of sex appeal. Many long years of highest highs and lowest lows as never resting and totally selfless parents.
And once I had given it my all, it was all over? Ready for disposal.
I was simply not ready to accept that!
How long can menopause last?
I bet you have asked yourself: ‘how long does menopause last?’. But have you ever wondered why it is called a ‘pause’?
Pausing what exactly?
So we are looking at up to 10 years (the hint at a jail sentence is intended). This is almost half a generation!
So after 2 to 3 years (or maybe 4, I have lost count!) of ‘initiation’ via the precursor perimenopause, I decided I had enough.
“Am I, or am I not, in menopause?”
I wasted my precious time studying potential signs and crawling my way through the unclear waters of so many ways to deal with it, torn constantly between the promises of total relief of HRT to the more healthy, potentially safer and closer to nature approaches to treatments for menopause.
Either way, I spent most of those years and a great part of my income studying a subject I didn’t even like. Add to that never ending discussions with similarly confused friends ending in more frustration, stress and anxiety.
I needed to know where I was going
My answer was to create a mental image of my own journey.
I imagine I am a cocoon or chrysalis transforming into a beautiful butterfly. I know. This is so woo woo!! But I say we all need a bit more of that!
First of all, it is not a pause!! Because when we finally come ‘out the other end’, we are not the same person anymore. We will be changed.
So I felt that I had two choices:
- Coming out the other end feeling changed, old and disposable.
- Taking control of the ride, choosing my destination, travelling in style and with great confidence!
Becoming solution focused to survive menopause
I can blame my work in solution focused hypnotherapy for my natural approach to surviving menopause. You see, that is where ‘solution focused’ comes in. The human mind needs a vision; some hope, anticipation and aspiration.
I needed to know where I was going, so I could be in control of the process…not my hormones, my doctor, the media or a society that calls itself advanced and modern, and yet is so repressed and taboo about the most natural processes.
I’m like the caterpillar who is born with everything it needs to become a butterfly and at the right time changes substance to do so. I like my cocoon and I am looking forward to becoming that butterfly and using my wings.
Of course, I still have random ‘interesting’ days and regular, spontaneous new symptoms that can take me by surprise at the least ideal moment. But I have stopped stressing about it!
Menopause is not a fixed ‘state’. It is fluid and comes in spouts of normality versus surprises (ha!). And it is my reaction to it that matters.
For years I grieved becoming old. Feared my kids leaving home, and feeling aimless and useless.
My menopause symptoms are part of a process. You can drive past the most beautiful scenery, but if you focus on the bumps in the road, the traffic or the road works, you will miss the view.
We are far too focused on getting rid of the symptoms and forget to look at what the journey is.
And the reason being that, even in advanced times, us women are left to our own devices. We have lost the wisdom of the wise and elderly of our tribes, but still are not connected to any other truly supporting system. Even worse, our society is still run by patriarchs ignoring female needs at every stage.
But with half the world’s population going through this at some point in their life, it is time for us to start rebuilding those female ties. To support and to care for each other – sisterhood at its best.
My steps to survive menopause
Anxiety and stress are strong influencers in our lives. Both often increase as we get older through hormone fluctuations and increasing responsibilities. But the way we think also determines how we feel. Worrying is the fuel that drives the anxiety fires and to survive menopause we need to put out the flames.
So, how do I extinguish the fire and treat my menopause naturally?
Here are those seven steps:
The first step to surviving menopause is acceptance. Acceptance that I’ve reached this part of my life path.
Not accepting menopause is like fighting labour. The baby is coming whether you are ready or not. Giving in makes you the leader!
2. Letting go
The next step is letting go. Letting go of hope to find a clear, easy, informed straight path through the thickest and most spikey jungle of information and opinions.
Surrendering to the process and focussing on the view along the way has served wonders for me.
3. Taking the side of my sisters
My biggest eye opener during menopause has been social media support groups.
I was so saddened and shocked by the language, the disrespect and the rudeness in some that I decided which camp I wanted to be in: the sisterhood camp.
I decided that this was finally the time for me to become a true and authentic ‘sister’ to my fellows. A time to teach my daughter NOW to become that girl and future woman who will support other women to become the best, the most beautiful and happy version of themselves.
4. Focus on the process
I choose to focus on the process to survive menopause, not the symptoms and side effects.
Remember that beautiful drive!
Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? Look at your life and all the things you have achieved.
You have the chance to redefine yourself again. Make it worth your while.
5. Find passion and purpose
What passion or purpose makes you get out of bed in the morning?
What makes you want to read and learn, and learn some more?
What makes you feel alive?
What makes you forget the drive, but look at the view?
Who do you want to be when you are able to fly?
6. Be yourself
Be yourself for once and all. After all, everyone else is taken.
Seriously, now is the time! You can’t hide any longer.
And I quite frankly don’t want to. It has taken me so long to find myself!
7. Enjoy the 50+ ‘fuck it’ stage
I had been warned this time would come. My ‘fuck it’ mood seemed to be premature – it started at 47.
But I’ve never looked back! Now is the time to live the life you want and say ‘fuck it’ to everything else.
What is keeping you from creating that life?
Will you join me on my mission to survive menopause mindfully?
If you’d like to be updated on my regular blogs and ideas to support women through life, you can sign up to my newsletter.
If you’d like support finding your way through the jungle of menopause to become a happier and more relaxed version of yourself, you can book an initial consultation. I’m a hypnotherapist based in Kingsbridge near Plymouth in South Devon and also offer hypnotherapy consultations outdoors and online. Find out more about hypnotherapy treatment for menopause.
Sometimes we just need a little boost. Listening to positive messages like this trance again and again can improve your sleep and retrain your brain to focus on the positive.
If you feel severely affected by the menopause please always contact your GP.
Featured image by Ash Edmonds, Unsplash.