A lady emailed me a few weeks ago and said that her doctor told her that she was in the mentalpause and I thought what a fabulous description. Because that’s exactly what the menopause is – a journey through both physical and emotional extremes with most of us not having a clue as to what is happening!
How hormones affect out emotional and mental wellbeing
Falling hormones affect us in many ways. At the present moment there are at least 34 recognised main symptoms, with many women having unique symptoms that don’t always get recognised as menopausal.
Oestrogen, especially, is a mood enhancer and when the levels start to dip that can have a huge impact on our emotional state. Low mood, anxiety, mood swings, anger, frustration, impatience, absentmindedness and even depression can hit us really quickly, catching us unawares.
Suddenly, our ‘usual self’ disappears and it often feels like we have been taken over by some stranger who acts completely differently. This can be a real shock for our friends and loved ones as the person they knew suddenly starts to snap and snarl and work colleagues start to give you a wide berth! Some women decide to completely change their lives, even walking out of their relationship and leaving everyone stunned.
Can we blame it all on hormones?
The hormonal changes in the menopause can stress the body itself tremendously. We are, in effect, coming off hormones that our body has been used to for many years and this decrease causes withdrawal symptoms just as if we were stopping smoking or coming off drugs of any kind. So, of course, our emotional self is going to be affected in some way as we go through this process.
We also have to realise that as women today we are forever busy, on the go and our minds are constantly whirring about what we need to do and – like an overworked computer – sometimes it just crashes. I was out for a family day recently and was chatting to one of my daughters and eldest grandson and was telling them that a little while ago I tried to put the box of washing powder and fabric conditioner in the fridge – you just know that moment when you suddenly ‘come to’ and go ‘oopps’. My daughter, who’s 35, said that recently she had poured orange juice onto her breakfast cereal instead of milk; and my grandson, who’s 19, said that he had gone to wash his dinner plate and found himself in the bathroom. Phew, so I am not going senile! Many of these so-called menopause moments are nothing to do with age or hormones but just the fact that our poor brains never get a moment’s peace!
What you can do
So is there anything you can do for this mentalpause? Yes, believe it or not the stronger your body is the more easily it can adapt to these changes. Looking after yourself well, having a good varied diet which will give your body all the nutrients it needs at this time, plenty of rest and relaxation to allow the body time to rebalance, and sensible exercise to keep everything in working order can make a huge difference to the number and intensity of the symptoms you will get; and hopefully this will give you a more emotionally balanced and physically easier journey.
What strange thing did you do in the Mentalpause?