Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be looking at why you can feel lonely and isolated in perimenopause and menopause.
It's not uncommon to feel isolated when all the hormonal changes are impacting you both physically and mentally. And that withdrawal can impact your emotions as well, just making you want to take a big step back from everything.
So today, I'm going to look at why these changes can happen and what you can do to help yourself.
What can cause you to feel isolated and alone?
Firstly, let's take a look at what can cause or contribute to these feelings of isolation and loneliness:
1. Physical symptoms overwhelming you
Physical changes and symptoms can be overwhelming. If you are getting constantly poor sleep, if you're getting fatigued, if you're getting joint aches and pain, if you're just feeling physically worn out and tired, then this can affect you emotionally. It can pull you down. It can make you feel that you just don't want to do anything. You don't want to exercise. You don't want to do all your usual activities. You just want to withdraw from everything.
2. Emotional symptoms overwhelming you
Your emotional symptoms can also be overwhelming and greatly contribute to your feelings of being isolated and alone. If you're constantly suffering from mood swings, if they're going up and down, if you've got low mood, if you find that you're getting irritable and angry, again, you just don't want to do anything.
And in this situation, a lot of women tell me they just don't want to socialise because they can't cope with other people. It can also be things like going shopping. A lot of people say that they just can't cope. The emotional issues are so overwhelming that even going into a supermarket practically traumatises them, and they just don't want to be in that situation.
3. Feeling like no one understands you or what you are going through
It can also be that no one understands how you're feeling. And, how can you explain to someone how you feel when you don't understand it yourself? It's a really difficult situation to be in.
It could also be the fact that no one else is listening to you. You're trying so hard to explain maybe to your loved ones, your family, and friends, and your work colleagues, "This is how I'm feeling." And people are just dismissing it and telling you to pull yourself together – that doesn't help at all.
It can be a very isolating situation when you think that no one cares about how you feel.
4. Feeling like you are not getting enough support from your doctor
It may well be that you feel that you're not getting enough support from your doctor. Your doctor may just have said to you, again, "This is something you're going to have to get on with. I can't really help you." Or they're basically telling you that the symptoms you are experiencing are nothing to do with menopause and you're left in limbo. What can you do when you don't even get that kind of support from the people that you're actually relying on?
What you can do to help yourself?
So, what can you do in this situation? Here are a few things that I recommend:
Talk about it: I know it's easier said than done but it really is important to talk to somebody. One of the things that I find really gratifying is so many women will come to me about their problems, I'll just send them a quick message back, and they will say, "Thank you for listening. I feel better already." So just getting everything off your chest, having a good moan, having a good talk to somebody can make a huge amount of difference.
So, try and talk to family if you can. You could talk to a friend. Maybe you've got a friend who's going through menopause as well so you can compare notes.
Look at support groups, as these can be really helpful and supportive. One of the lovely things that's springing up all over the place is menopause cafes where you can go on a certain date and just be with people who are going through the same thing as you.
Look at your workplace as well. Is there a menopause support group there where you can maybe meet up once a month and have a chat or organise a menopause coffee morning once a month too? Sometimes, it's not about looking for something to help you but, maybe, you can start something up yourself.
Look online as well. There are lots of online menopause communities that are so supportive such as chat forums and Facebook groups. You could also look at your local library. They, very often, have lists of groups and organisations in your area and you may find that there's already a menopause support group lurking in the background somewhere that you can contact.
Find the right doctor to help you: If you feel that your doctor is not helping you, if you're in a big practice, maybe ask if you can speak to another doctor to see if they're more supportive. You could ask if there's what's called a menopause clinic in your area. These are clinics that are specifically for the menopause and are supported by doctors and nurses who are well-versed in all matters menopause.
Seek out other healthcare support or therapies: You could also look into other natural, complementary therapies. Maybe look at a medical herbalist or a nutritional therapist to help you combat some of your physical symptoms.
You can look into specific techniques that can help you to cope better emotionally, so that's things such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique – also known as Tapping) and NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming). If you Google these online, you will find practitioners in your area who can teach you the basics, and a lot of people find that these can be very beneficial because they can help you just feel in control instead of you being controlled by everything else that's going on around you.
Take control of your symptoms: Try to find solutions to your symptoms if you find that your symptoms are really pulling you down and contributing to this feeling of being isolated. So, you can look at herbs such as Sage tablets for hot flushes and night sweats, Valerian for sleep, Passionflower to help support relaxation, and don't forget magnesium and the B vits because they're really wonderful for helping to support and strengthen your nervous system too.
Remember the basics: These are the ones I like to call the menopause basics or the good habits that all women should introduce as they go through perimenopause and menopause, but they are easy to forget to do.
When we are feeling low, when we're feeling down, when we just want to shut out the world and not have anything to do with anybody, we're very often not taking care of ourselves because we're in such a low place. And very often, you will be reaching out for sweet snacks and processed foods because you want something quick. You want something that's going to give you a quick boost. But these things will impact your nervous system and your physical symptoms, so just taking that little bit extra care of yourself with your diet can make a huge amount of difference to how you feel emotionally and physically.
Remember the water, because dehydration is going to make absolutely everything worse.
Try and prioritise a good night's sleep. I know it's a really difficult one! You can look at herbs such as Valerian for this.
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And also do your night-time regime of switching everything off and having a calming hour before you get into bed, or having that warm bath with a dash of lavender oil in it just to help you more relaxed, to help you to sleep.
Look at exercise as well. Exercise is so important on so many different levels. But if you exercise enough, it releases endorphins, which are happy hormones. So these hormones lift you up. And especially if you can get out into nature, just being in amongst the trees and the birds and that sort of thing, again, that can make you feel so much better. Even just a 10 or 15-minute walk a day can get those hormones whooshing around your system, making you feel that little bit better.
A lot of local parks now have walking groups and Saturday fun runs. And most areas, there will also be hiking groups or walking groups that you can enjoy. And that's nice too because you're getting to mix with other people who are enjoying the same activities that you are as well.
And do the rest and relaxation. And I know you're going, "But, wait a minute, I feel isolated. I'm on my own anyway." But there's a difference between feeling lonely and isolated and unhappy, and just shutting yourself away for 30 minutes to do some mindfulness, get some lovely music on so that you can just relax. That will help to calm your nervous system. It will also help to give you that little bit of a boost as well.
So, I hope you found this one helpful. This is such a common symptom and I know that probably many of you out there are thinking you're the only person that's going through this. Believe me, you're not. I was there as well. I used to just look out the window and wish I could fly away into the horizon, never to be seen again.
So, it happens to just about everybody at some point. It tends to be a phase; so, for most women, this is something you will find yourself easing out of. But if you do all these things to support yourself, you're going to feel that little bit better and just a little bit less on your own.
Just remember though, if this is really pulling you down, if you feel really debilitated, if you feel that you literally can't cope every day, if you don't even want to get up to face anybody or anything, then please don't suffer in silence with this. For some women, the hormonal changes are so severe that medical help is really necessary just to help them through this phase. So please, if you're just in any doubt about what's going on, speak to your doctor.
If any of you out there have things that have helped you, strategies, supplements that you have taken, or anything that you've done that has really made you feel more empowered and more in control, please share them. There are so many women out there that would love these tips and I'm just always so happy to read them when they come in, so please don't hesitate to leave your comments.
And until then, I will see you next week on another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.
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