There are a few reasons why we often don’t get the support we need in menopause and perimenopause. And most of them come down to ‘we don’t talk about it’ ‘other people don’t listen’ and ‘we don’t ask for help’.
Why don’t we talk about it?
It’s embarrassing. It involves parts of our bodies we don’t feel we should mention in polite company (like our brains 😉). And we might have noticed that apart from ‘is it hot in here or is it me’ accompanied by an embarrassed laugh, people around us aren’t talking about it much either. So it’s really hard to be the one to break that silence.
But it’s more than that. Sometimes we don’t like to admit it even to ourselves because there’s a shame in growing older as a woman. Knowingly or unknowingly we’ve may have been valued for our youth, fertility and attractiveness. And we don’t want to be someone without those things. (Honestly our attractiveness doesn’t go, although it does change, but that’s another story). Older women are often portrayed very negatively so it’s not surprising we don’t want to be one.
We may worry that other will see us differently, that they may consider us to be less vital, less competent, and half way to ga-ga. We may even worry that it will affect our career.
But nonetheless we do need to speak up.
Why don’t other people listen?
Honestly, a lot of them do. Some of them don’t. It’s particularly tough if the person who isn’t listening is your partner, your manager or 🙄 your doctor.
People don’t listen because they’re embarrassed, because they sense the emotion and they’re not comfortable with that, or because they suspect you’re going to ask something of you they don’t want to give.
So, sometimes we need to circumvent those obstacles. We need to provide people with information in the form that it most suits them. Sometimes we need to leave them alone to read or watch things and think about it in their own way. Sometimes we need to bite back our own emotion to talk about it gently. Which may not be either fair or easy, but it is often practical.
And sometimes we do need to assert ourselves. We may need to write down the points which we need to make. We may need to practice them. And we need to make them, without blame or recrimination or anger, and make sure someone is listening. And if they aren’t we wait and we try again.
And we need to be clear what we are asking of people, and what we understand that they can’t do for us.
Why don’t we ask for help?
Often we’re the ones who are used to giving the help. Often we pride ourselves on our independence and our resilience. Sometimes we’re not sure what it is we need.
Asking for help often involves creating new habits. It involves letting other people see our weaknesses. And it involves trust.
What we need to do as we go through menopause and perimenopause
Let our partners and families know what’s going on and what we need from them.
Share things with our friends and others in menopause
Find allies at work
Talk to our employers about how they can help
How we can help our colleagues in menopause and perimenopause?
🔥 Listen,without judgement or assumptions.
🔥 Ask open-ended questions.
🔥 Ask us what we need? Keep asking because we might not admit we need anything.
🔥 Discuss what might be down on an individual or organisational basis to make life a little easier for those of us in menopause and perimenopause.
We know there are limits to what is possible. But sometimes small things can make a massive difference, and knowing we are not alone makes the biggest difference of all.