Elizabeth Joseph Comes to the End of her Journey Through Perimenopause
To those of you who are reading this and thinking ‘I beg your pardon?’ – I should tell you that this column looks at ways to help navigate perimenopause. And if the word perimenopause is new to you, as it is to many, let me explain further. Perimenopause is the ‘build up’ to menopause. A time when fluctuating hormones can lead to feelings of anxiety, new aches and pains, disrupted sleep, fatigue and other potentially debilitating symptoms.
Last month I looked at ways to help sleep and, as I said, hopefully you are starting to feel a little bit more like yourself again. So, what is the focus of this month’s column, I hear you ask. Well, it is just that, it is about being and feeling yourself. Being you. But first I need to tell you a little story. Bear with me. It is related. I promise.
Many moons ago, before I had realised I wasn’t really a joiner, I briefly became a Brownie. I was initially very excited at the prospect of becoming a Brownie as it came with quite a few goodies: a ‘stylish’ uniform, some stickers, a bag and a Brownie manual of sorts.
The manual was the bit I most excited about. I had been told it held a secret. A secret that could change my life forever! Within the pages of this book there was a beautifully illustrated story of a young girl, about my age at the time, who sets off on a quest. A quest to search for the magical creature that would help her to make sure that her bedroom was always neat and tidy. Imagine! How exciting! I read along with bated breath as the young girl followed clue after clue, through the forest, up hill and down dale, until at last she came upon a still lake shining in the moonlight.
You’re way ahead of me, aren’t you?
I didn’t know any swear words at the time, but if I had I would have used all of them. The story concluded with the young girl, as you have no doubt worked out, being instructed to look into the lake and, upon seeing her own reflection, hearing the words echoing through the still night...
I mean seriously. Come on. Have a word with yourself. I have genuinely never been as profoundly disappointed in my entire life as I was in that moment. I didn’t last much longer in the Brownies and don’t even ask about my bedroom!
As ‘midlifers’, we know exactly how disappointment feels. We would love a magical creature to help us complete the myriad of tasks each day brings, and we have much more than messy bedrooms to worry about. In midlife, we can often feel pulled in a million different directions. Maybe we have elderly parents to look after. Maybe we still have children living at home. Maybe we have demanding jobs. Maybe we have climbed to the top of the career ladder after years of grafting. Maybe all of the above is true. Maybe we feel we have to be so many things to so many people.
Maybe, just maybe, we don’t quite feel like ourselves anymore.
This feeling is partly because of the life stage we find ourselves at, as part of the sandwich generation, needing to care for and look after so many different people. It is also, as we have seen on our journey thus far, down to our fluctuating hormones. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. As our levels of oestrogen, the nurturing hormone, start to lessen we can start to change focus. We can start to put the focus on ourselves. We can start to care for ourselves. We can also start to worry less about what others think of us. And we can start to look at our own lives thus far. We can start to assess what we want for us. Not for others. For us.
We are possibly a little braver and a little bolder, keener to try out new things. That could be a new hobby. Has anyone given cold-water swimming, hang aerial or zip-wiring a try yet? Maybe letting a little ‘woo woo’, something a little more unconventional, into our lives. Have you braved a cacao ceremony, ‘tapping’ or ‘earthing’ yet? Or how about just looking after yourself and putting your own needs first: a spa day, sitting in the garden with a good book for half an hour or enjoying a long soak in an Epsom Salt bath?
Now is also a time when we need to make sure we avoid making any kind of comparisons. It doesn’t matter how well anyone else is doing, or says they are doing. It’s about how we are doing. Now is the time to look at ourselves and assess whether any limiting beliefs have been holding us back. Is there something we have always wanted to do, or something we have always wanted to try, but a lack of confidence has stopped us?
Thanks to the encouragement of the editor of this wonderful magazine not only have I become a writer, I have also become a model! All at the grand old age of 50! Two things that I couldn’t have imagined possible two years ago! Two years ago, perimenopause had completely knocked me sideways and flattened any confidence I might once have had in myself. But, over time, as the oestrogen has started to ebb, I have rediscovered that confidence and I am looking forward to my second spring, my second act. I am excited to see what the future holds.
I am not sure exactly where you are on your journey at the moment but there will come a time when you stop looking outside of yourself to find your confidence, you will stop wondering what it will take to get you going again, to get you excited about trying out something new. There will come a time when you stand still, in the moonlight, maybe during a cacao ceremony, and look down at the smooth surface of a beautiful lake and you will see that magical creature that can change your life: