A.Vogel Talks Menopause: Who am I now?


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


13 June 2016

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog A.Vogel Talks Menopause. Now over the weeks, I’ve talked an awful lot about our physical symptoms going through the menopause, our emotional symptoms going through the menopause as well. But there’s also another deeper aspect of the menopause that I actually wanted to talk about today, and that is the question, “Who am I?”

Now, it’s amazing how many women have actually gotten in touch with me over the years, and they are puzzled and also sometimes a little bit frightened about the way they are feeling because they don’t understand who they are anymore. They might find that they are fed up with life in general. They might be extremely bored. They might decide that they don’t like their job anymore. They may find that the clothes and hairstyle and makeup that they’ve been quite happy with for a long, long time, suddenly they just think, “That’s not me anymore. I feel that I need to change.” They can feel that they just want to stop everything. I know, for me, very often I just wanted to open the backdoor and fly away into the sunset, never to be seen again.

Escape

So we very often feel that we might want to escape our daily routine, our daily troubles, and also just to escape the actual menopause itself. And we do need to take time to find out who this “us” is, if you like, purely because it’s part and parcel of the menopause. And learning who we are at this particular point in our life can actually help us to move forward and it can help us to cope with the menopause as well.

Exciting and frightening

It can be very exciting, because you suddenly realize that there are things you can do or things that you wanted to do that you’ve never tried before. It can also be very frightening, especially for those around us, because suddenly they’re seeing this woman that they’ve never seen before. And it can actually have quite a profound effect on relationships as well. So that is actually something to be aware of.

Now, why does this actually happen? And why now?

Well, believe it or not, it stems from way, way back when we were evolving as human beings. Because the human baby takes such a long time to mature and to be able to go out into the world and look after itself, there was a bonding process going on between mother and baby. And this bonding has a lot to do with the hormones or, I should say, the hormones have a lot to do with how this bonding actually takes place and how long it actually lasts.

Now we have a hormone called oxytocin, which is basically your love hormone. And it does several different things. When you’re about to give birth and when you actually give birth, there’s a big surge of this hormone which acts as a stimulus for bonding with the baby. And an awful lot of women actually do say that they suddenly get this rush of overwhelming love when they first hold a baby in their arms. And oxytocin and oestrogen are very, very closely linked together.

And over the years and even today now as women, we’re still in this caring role. We’re the ones that keep the family together. We are the ones that organize everybody. And even if we’re working, most of us will still carry the main burden of organizing the family and running the household. And over the years, the oxytocin has actually captivated us in the way it’s held us prisoner against caring for other people.

Now what happens in the menopause as your oestrogen starts to fall, the levels of oxytocin can fall as well. And that actually loosens our feelings of love, our feelings of responsibility to other people in our lives as well. So this can be quite a big factor in this whole aspect of who am I now. Suddenly there’s this whole new person actually emerging as well. So we need to actually be aware that these feelings we get are not just about us. It’s not in our head. There is actually a real, physical reason for this level, too.

The role of testosterone

The other thing that can actually happen at this particular time is that, as women, we do have testosterone. And sometimes in the balance in the menopause, our oestrogen and progesterone can fall, but our testosterone can actually stay quite high. And there are those women who suddenly get a real sense of purpose, and drive and focus. And that in itself can be quite frightening, too, because suddenly instead of wanting to care for everybody else, you’re like, “Wait a minute. What about me? I need to be looked after. I don’t want to have to do all this as well.”

But then what happens is, as women, what do we do? We feel guilty about absolutely everything. So these new feelings that we can start to get, we think, “Oh, I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to cook the dinner when I come in from work at night. I don’t want to spend the weekend doing the housework. I want to go out and I want to have some fun.” And then of course we start to feel guilty and that guilt puts more added pressure on how we feel about ourselves as well.

Is this you?

So if this is you, if you are thinking to yourself, “Oh, wait a minute. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life,” then try and take it slowly. The problem is I have had women who have had this sudden urge and they literally walked out the door. They’ve left everything behind, and that can be not a particularly good idea.

So if you’re in this situation, then have a real good think about who do you want to be. What do you want to change in your life? Have you got some kind of hidden talent, have you always wanted to paint? Have you always wanted to dance? Have you always wanted to run through a meadow full of flowers? So look at these things and try and incorporate them into your life, because these are things that will make you feel happy. They will make you feel fulfilled where maybe other things in your life that used to do that don’t do that anymore.

Take it easy

So just take it easy, see how it goes and let me know if you’ve done some radical changes or even if this thing is that you would secretly love to do because very often just writing it down is the first step at actually starting to do it in real life. So I hope that’s given you a little bit of an idea of this sort of hidden aspect of the menopause.

So I will look forward to seeing you next week on A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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