Never mind pandemics. For me menopause is the new normal.
Although it’s been hanging around for ages.
According to NHS menopause advice, I should be done with perimenopause by now. I’ve never been average though. One can but hope.
There’s only so much fluctuation a girl can take.
'I feel as if I'm losing all my leaves.' This quote is from the film The Father. It made me cry. Not because of dementia but because it described so well how perimenopause made me feel.
Let’s talk about menopause
I wish I’d known more about menopause before it started.
Is the sentence I hear most from other women. It’s crazy isn’t it. Something that happens to half the population, is often utterly debilitating, and takes up a big chunk of female lives.
Still isn’t talked about enough.
32% of women (USA research) felt there was not enough perimenopause and menopause information available before they started experiencing symptoms.
So let’s change things. Today I’m going to talk about how taking my menopause outside has helped me, not just deal with the symptoms, but rediscover myself.
What does menopause feel like?
Imagine a cardboard box.
Big enough for a size 16 woman to climb into, shut the lid and hide inside. Well when my menopause first started, that’s where I wanted to be. The symptoms I experienced were both confusing and physically painful. I felt like I was falling apart.
I discovered it was much easier to hide inside my metaphorical box if I stayed in the house.
But I knew outdoors was better for me.
Exercise and menopause
So one November day I took my menopause and threw it into cold water.
Well in truth I eased it gradually into the sea.
I discovered that, not only did the harsh chill of the water completely obliterate any hint of a hot flush, it also took the edge off my unreasonably high anxiety levels.
Possibly because being anxious about cold water actually makes sense.
At the height (or depths) of perimenopause, this reaction to cold water was so positive I would notice my menopause anxiety reappear after two days without swimming.
So I kept swimming.
I took my menopause outside
And gradually I gained the confidence to go back to the outdoor activities I had previously loved.
I took my menopause for walks along the South West Coast Path.
I took my menopause camping.
I took my menopause back onto the hills as an outdoor leader.
I even took my menopause jogging.
My menopause and I are, by the way, still in discussion about the jogging. It definitely helps with perimenopause symptoms but is currently my area of least outdoor confidence.
That is until I try climbing.
Which I haven’t yet but might do one day because I’ve discovered something else about the menopause.
Despite all the hassle and heartache, it can be an exciting time.
As my body has discovered new ways of being and thinking. So have I. I’m more compassionate, less critical, more inventive, and more active than I think I’ve ever been before.
Which is nice.
I also still struggle from time to time.
Which isn’t nice.
Personal menopause advice
You can read a bit more about my outdoor menopause story here. It’s definitely not all bouncy and happy.
Everyone is different but my menopause advice is simple.
- Expect it
- Talk about it (to friends, daughters, sons, partners, doctors)
- Be open to options (medical and alternative)
- Get Outside (as often, and in as many different ways as you can)
From another outdoor writer called Fiona, here's a very brave poem about menopause. It isn't an easy time but it is one that will eventually pass. Thanks Fiona.