Archive for February 28th, 2009

The Change – part 6





A burning issue

I would be interested to know if there is an increase in suicide amongst women who are going through the menopause, if there is it really wouldn’t surprise me. Having written that I then did some ‘googling’ and found this article which is discussing the fact that there is a spike in suicides amongst middle-aged women, and apportions some of the blame to menopausal symptoms. I am not actively seeking to end my life but, I do have to admit that there are odd moments when my menopausal symptoms do get the better of me. I know that sounds dramatic, and I don’t mean it to, but I’m being honest in an attempt to convey quite how depressing, life affecting and capable of stripping you of a desire to carry on the menopause can be.

The menopause is one of those things not talked about, unless you are a comedian, or comedienne, men having a ‘lads chat’ about women, or women of a similar age who are going through the menopause. I’m as guilty as the next person. I can remember my Mother-in-Law grabbing my hand and holding it against her forehead to demonstrate how hot and sweaty she was. To my eternal regret my reaction was to snatch my hand away and change the subject. I wish I had told her how hot she felt, sympathised with her and asked her how often and how long those hot flushes were. Instead I just perpetuated the ‘lets not talk about it’ culture, as if there is something distasteful and embarrassing about this normal part of a woman’s life. Now that I am experiencing the same symptoms as she did I would love to be able to talk about them instead of trying to pretend that they are not happening. I would be hugely grateful if, just once, my husband and his friends did not think that it was hilarious when my face becomes flushed and sweat appears on my forehead and chest. I don’t want sympathy, just a small degree of understanding that, however disconcerting it is to them when I start glowing, it is far more embarrassing, and physically uncomfortable, for me.

Just to put things straight, I am not suicidal but there are days when the symptoms of the menopause, especially the hot flushes, are so relentless that life is far from enjoyable. Sleep is not even an escape, as the nights are as disrupted as the days and it is during these episodes that my resilience hits a low, lack of sleep tends to do this to me. It is the totally unpredictable nature of these ‘inner fires’ which makes them so depressing. If you could plan for them, know that the next two days were going to be spent mopping your brow, throwing bed-clothes off and dressing for the summer in the middle of winter, then life would be more enjoyable and the symptoms less something to battle against and more something you could accept.  I can imagine that, for women who don’t have the family responsibilities that I do, or a job which provides them with little satisfaction or an unsupportive partner life must, at times, not seem worth battling on with as no one knows just how long an individuals menopausal symptoms will last, I’ve heard of women who have them for 10 years and more. Now that is depressing.

Pathetic isn’t it? This isn’t a chronic or life-threatening ailment, just the change. Perhaps that is the root of the problem. If my arthritis is flaring up others are understanding. If I were pregnant and affected with morning sickness concessions would be made but here I am beseiged by an unpredictable, uncontrollable event, affecting every aspect of my life and everyone, including me, expects that I should carry on as if nothing untoward is happening.


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