I’m no stranger to anxiety; it has been there at various points throughout my life, and over the years I have learned to recognise it, manage it and not let it dominate me or what I am doing. I have learned to lean into it a little, to let go of it and enjoy life in all its wonder and glory.
It’s not always been an easy journey, but it is one I am immensely proud of.
A few years ago, in my mid-40s, I suddenly started to notice that anxiety was there again, quite suddenly. It felt different to other times it had made its presence felt in my life; this felt like it came out of nowhere. It was true that some stressful stuff had been going on around me, but even so the anxiety would just suddenly come out of nowhere. It was accompanied by some intrusive thoughts, and some really quite unpleasant feelings.
In a way it wasn’t bothering me too much; all the same techniques and strategies I had learned over the years – the same ones I share with clients who experience anxiety – were working fine and helping me to feel okay. I did feel a sense of curiosity about this anxiety though, and what it was doing in my life.
I am incredibly lucky to have some wonderfully supportive local GPs where I live. I discussed what was going on, around other discussions regarding contraceptive choices – much as I love birth and babies, my family is most definitely complete! The result was that blood tests confirmed that I am perimenopausal.
This wasn’t too much of a surprise to me, though I did find it very reassuring. I had noticed that I had gone from being the coldest person in the room, always wearing the biggest jumper, to actually not needing quite so many clothes anymore! Seeing this as a positive meant that I have ever experienced ‘hot flushes’ in any embarrassing or unpleasant way.
One amusing effect was that the night after I received confirmation of the blood test results I suddenly woke up drenched in a night sweat. I went straight into self-hypnosis, using techniques to turn down that heat I was feeling, and taking the opportunity to have a sharp word with myself that as this had not been a problem before I knew for sure, there was no way I was going to allow it to be a problem now! Sure enough, I haven’t been bothered by another one since….
Although my GP talked me through possible treatment options, I have continued to manage my symptoms so far by focussing on my general health, and using hypnotherapy and coaching techniques. I really felt heard, and supported to make the right choices for me at this point in my life.
It makes me angry and sad in equal measure that not all women have access to such understanding and helpful GPs or medical support. So many women struggle on through, not asking for support or not receiving support if they do ask; not understanding what is happening to their bodies and what might help.
What do you want to know about the menopause? How do you want to be treated?