The Menopause - where's my fan? - and what it has taught me - by Gaynor 
 
My rude awakening to the menopause came when I was sitting in a meeting in February 2014 - with a whoosh of energy and a total saturation of my favourite blue shirt. I was mortified, as I was sitting with three men who were either polite or totally oblivious. I was so distracted by my body - and this has been the theme of the last five years. 
After the first realisation, I kept fans handy or always managed to find a magazine to cool me down. Luckily, at work I was the boss and felt little embarrassment. The response from other people though was more mixed. Younger women were curious at best and often uncomfortable, for those “going through it” there was deeper sharing of what worked for them. I found blokes raising eyebrows, or ones with partners who were experiencing it giving me twinkly eyed, knowing looks. 
 
My primary symptoms where night sweats, but I also had my fair share of daytime hot flushes, constant tiredness and as Winston Churchill said the “black dog”. As he also said you have no choice but to keep “buggering on”. I am sure it helped that I meditate daily, have a healthy veggie diet and we have Jaya, our collie, who needs his daily walk. 
 
I am a doer and have very strong pusher energy. It got harder and harder, when sleeping for less than 3 hours a night to find the energy and motivation to be head of a charity, responsible for service users, staff and volunteers, and raising money. My body was complaining, I got eye and ear problems. Still, I did not listen, but ploughed on until I had to stop. 
 
HRT was not an option for me as the whispered words from Mum in the lead up to her death of what was to come and the death of my grandmother and aunt felt like too bigger risk. I went to herbalists and tried anything my friends or the internet suggested might work. I read good and terrible books about what to do and what not to do. I took what I hoped was a rational approach, introducing herbs and tonics, using them for a minimum of 3 months even when I felt they were not working. Staying curious and keeping journals to track the input and note the changes, I spent a small fortune! 
 
In the end I gave up work and used my savings to give me the space to sleep and be with my symptoms rather than fighting them and trying to stop them happening. 
I now have a changed relationship with my body as I have got to know it more intimately. I have changed how I care for myself and consciously rest more - not just when I am exhausted. I respond to myself, and others, with more compassion than used to exist. My ‘pusher energy’ is still there; through Voice dialogue I have named him, he’s always waiting in the wings to take over again, but he is learning to be more considerate. 
 
So what have I found that works for me ? 
More self-compassion practice that I ever expected necessary or possible 
A mountain meditation practice and a tree practice I’ve devised from sitting under the oak trees at Bradgate Park 
A Being At Home meditation practice when I wake up to help my body relax 
Labelling my thoughts. There’s lots of humour when you do it everyday. There is no hiding from repeat voices that all have their own personalities. 
Giving myself permission to get up when nothing else works and put my feet on the cold bathroom floor. Or walk downstairs and place my head in the fridge or freezer for the cool pleasure it brings. 
 
Menopause gives you no option but to tune into yourself. It’s been my teacher - helping me to be open, curious and honest. Watching my own and others’ judgements of what I should and should not be doing and choosing to rule them in or out. 
 
I am still menopausal, but I have a new relationship with my body and a changed approach to living my own life. I would like to say it’s beautifully integrated, but it’s not - It just is what it is in any given moment. The difference now is I accept all of it. 
 
Dr Linda Khalid and I will be running a series of half day workshops starting in September sharing what we have found has worked for us. If you’re interested just book your place to come along. 
 
Tagged as: menopause
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