Repeat after me: Menopause does NOT have to be miserable!!
Some aspects of the media would have us believe that we need to hunker down, get supplies in and be ready for the s**t storm that is coming…because it’s ominous and it’s going to be, well frankly, terrible.
Without wanting to diminish the hurricane that many women find themselves in (I was one of them), it’s often about how we frame it.
The more we can frame is a powerful metamorphosis instead of a nightmare hormone deficiency, the more likely we are to experience it as such.
This is down to the incredible power of stereotype embodiment.
Stereotype embodiment is the concept that societal stereotypes and cultural beliefs about a particular group of people can influence the health and mindset of individuals belonging to that group. So in the context of menopause, stereotype embodiment suggests that the cultural expectations and stereotypes surrounding menopause can affect a person’s experiences and their symptom severity during this stage of life, especially if they buy in to the narrative described my mainstream media and/or negative family dynamics.
Dr. Joan Chrisler, is a renowned psychologist specialising in women's health. She has conducted studies on the link between the expectation effect and the phases of a woman’s life including menopause. According to her research findings, women's expectations about menopause can significantly influence their experience of the transition.
Dr. Chrisler's studies have shown that women who hold negative expectations of menopause, such as anticipating severe symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and memory problems, often report experiencing these symptoms more intensely. On the other hand, women who approach menopause with a more positive or neutral outlook tend to report less severe symptoms.
So how are you going to approach your menopause transition? With fear and trepidation or curiosity and interest?
My experience of menopause has been nothing short of monumental. I’m unrecognisable from my pre menopausal life. My values have shifted, I prioritise differently, my friendship circle has changed, my daily routine is completely different, my preferences are different, the language I use, my dietary requirements, my clothing choices… it’s all so different.
One of the biggest things I learnt through all of this is that I cannot think, act and behave the same as when I was in my 20’s/30’s and if I try to, it all goes horribly wrong. That girl is NOT coming back. I have been through a complete life transition, peppered with grief and loss for that younger version but ultimately menopause has made me stronger.
There’s a certain physics that occurs with menopause synonymous with chaos and order; destruction and regeneration; syntropy and entropy. We must dig deep into the depths and grab the medicine this ‘dark night’ is offering.
Right now as I write, I feel empowered and sturdy with an increased interest in social justice and a flaming sword and shield with which to take on the world. I’ve lost my fucks about what people think of me which makes me unafraid of constructive criticism. With this attitude, I feel like the world is my oyster. I know myself, but that’s because I’ve chosen to disengage from the negative talk and engage with the positive affirming talk that I hear from elders.
So here are a few journal prompts you can do to help you view your menopause as medicine rather than misery. Create some time, put on some nice music to help your mind relax, grab a journal and pen and make your environment comfy.
We're going to reflect on our past, present and future. You can do this as many times as you like through your menopause transition to gain more clarity from the changes your amazing body is going through.
So settle in.
Here are the prompts:
The messages I got from my past:
When I first started my period….
When I got my first boyfriend/girlfriend/partner…
When I become sexually active….
When my mum went through her menopause…..
When my grandmother went through her menopause….
Finish those sentences and just let yourself write without blocking or screening. Just free flow with it. What was being said and was wasn’t being said around you. What was your mum saying, your aunts saying, your grandmother saying, what were the men in your life saying. More importantly think about the feelings you had to what was being said. If nothing was said, ask yourself why and how did that silence make you feel. Pay particular attention to the messages that you were receiving about being a women, fertility, motherhood, childbirth, sex and sexual pleasure, periods and menopause. So free flow with your writing and then move on to the next step.
What my present wants me to know:
The reason I’m currently frustrated in my life is….
What triggers me the most is….
What I need more of is….
What I’m so grateful for is….
Again just let yourself free flow, don’t screen what you’re saying, this is just for you but what I really want you to focus on in the why’s, think critically here. For example, what triggers me the most is when doctors say I can’t go on HRT and I find that triggering because it undermines by ability to make choices for myself, or words to that effect. And then ask yourself is there anything in my childhood that made me feel like choices were taken away from me. So try to relate what happened to you in the past to why you feel like you do about certain frustrations today. There’s an expression we use in therapy and it goes “if it’s hysterical, it’s historical”…. so if you’re feeling triggered or frustrated today, ask yourself why and ask yourself if you felt like that at any time when you were little or younger. Then you can forgive yourself and know that it’s not YOU, it’s come from something in the past.
What my future is calling me to envision:
My hopes for the future are….
I see my role in society as….
I bring value by….
I wonder if I could get more of what I need by….
When you’re done, I suggest reading back over it all, closing your journal and having a cup of tea or snack and be proud of yourself.
Remember this Menopause Medicine Process really is for you to get to know yourself better and gently start putting things in motion so that you can set your life up to have more of what you need to support your belief that menopause does not have to be miserable.
If you like the idea of this process, but don’t want to do it alone, I would be honoured to work with you on this via a Menopause Solution Session.
It’s £147 for 90 minutes plus you get everything written up in a nice pdf for you.
Click here for more information https://www.sallygarozzo.com/mentoring
Thank you for reading and here's to a happier menopause this World Menopause Day 2023.