Updated: Apr 2, 2019
For some, talk of dragons is perhaps not the best introduction to a series of blog posts about the menopause but for those who doubt, hear me out.
What do you think of when you hear the term ‘dragon’ when used in connection with women? Do you think of the term, often used in a derogatory way in predominantly Western culture to describe a woman who is considered ‘difficult’ or 'aggressive'? Or do you think of a powerful, awe inspiring, mysterious and legendary creature with shimmering scales who breathes fire? Personally, I’m in this camp.
Similarly, our own individual perceptions of the menopause can also be very different. It’s no secret that the menopause gets a bad press. From flat-out ignorance of the important challenges women face during this transition to public ridicule intended as a suppressive insult. So many women have heard ‘Oh, she’s going through the change’ used as a flippant way to undermine and dismiss behaviour which is deemed fractious or challenging to that person. And this is where these attitudes contribute to adversely affecting support for women during this time. The menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life but this does not mean we should ‘just get on with it’, a dismissive and disheartening phrase one of my clients heard from a healthcare professional when seeking advice and support. How we deal with the menopause is much to do with our own personal view of it, which defines our approach to it.
Transition and Transformation
Women experience menopause at very different ages. The UK average age is between 45 – 55 years of age, with the average age at 51 years old, with 1 in 100 women experiencing menopause before the age of 40, considered premature menopause. Menopausal symptoms can appear a considerable time before our periods stop and can last for a few years after our last period.
Many studies have shown that the menopause can last anything between 2 – 10 years, with other sources citing the transition as longer than this, and this very much depends on the individual woman. This can include pre-menopause (when menstrual changes begin to happen), peri-menopause (when periods are missed) and the menopause itself (when menstruation essentially stops).
When we consider that our bodies constantly replace themselves with a largely new set of cells over the course of time, from a few days to a few years, it’s unsurprising that women can feel like a different person during the years from pre-menopause to the end of the menopause itself. The menopause is not only an important transition for women but it is akin to a physical, mental, emotional and often spiritual metamorphosis.
Appreciating Yourself As You Are
For the majority of women, there are considerable changes in their physical appearance, emotional responses and mental processes during menopause. With fluctuating hormones, things aren’t quite as predictable as they once were and this often means we need to look at different ways of supporting ourselves to help adjust to these changes. Symptoms of the menopause are deeply affecting. Some women feel they no longer recognise themselves, not only physically but mentally and emotionally too.
One of my clients said she wanted to get back to being the person she was before the menopause. This is a completely understandable wish that is borne of frustration. She gave an example of a time when she used to be able to do things without having to think about them, without the difficulties and lack of confidence she was currently experiencing. When I asked her when this time was, she told me it was when she was in her late 20s. This was an incredible pressure she was placing on herself, comparing herself to the woman she was over 25 years ago. It is such a harsh comparison that the woman she is now could never live up to this. But not only this, it also disrespected the woman she is today, the woman she has become over time. All of her life experiences in those years – the difficulties, losses, achievements, joys, celebrations – not only had they not been acknowledged, they had not been appreciated.
We can approach the menopause with the mindset of the slur of 'dragon lady' or we can fully embrace it as an opportunity to harness the immense power and grace of Dragon medicine. We can redefine ourselves. We can be our own fierce, wise and loving Dragons. The choice is ours.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, this Dragoness must fly.
Enter The Dragoness posts
A series of three blog posts, with this as the final post, on the importance of how we personally perceive the menopause, the transformative changes it brings and how to embrace the metamorphosis with grace and confidence using exercises to restore, revive and heal.
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Discover The Dragoness™ and Discover The Dragoness: Harnessing The Power Of Your Menopause™ both trademark Andrea Doran and Flourish