One of my friends said the other day, “I don’t want people to know that I am in menopause. They treat you differently and secretly roll their eyes. You know the one, it just makes you feel bad about yourself.”
Menopause And The Stigma
This surprised me. I look at menopause as a natural occurrence in life, just like starting your period when you begin puberty. But now that I think about it…menopause is a whole different beast.
Let me go back in time and tell you what happened. I was about 13 years old when my menses started. I was not interested in boys, but was out in the fields with the farmers near where I grew up. There was no sex education in school, and the Internet was not invented yet so you couldn’t Google your questions. It was something nobody talked about.
When my period started I tried to conceal it. I thought it was disgusting and wondered what the heck had I done to cause this. So I tried to hide it using toilet paper as my savior. Of course, this did not last long. My mom was wondering why we were constantly out of toilet paper, and eventually found some blood in my underwear. I was mortified!
Why don't we talk about important things in our life?
She then gave me a book to read. This was supposed to teach me what was going on with me and my body. The book had these odd 3D pictures, I remember it vividly. We never talked about it and my mom bought all kinds of feminine hygiene products with no further instructions (because I could just follow the box, right?).
How can we learn from each other if we don't talk about it?
The years went by and I grew older and so did she. At some point she must have gone into menopause - I am sure of it - but we never talked about it.
I, on the other hand, will talk about anything (my menopause included). Most women go through the same side effects in menopause as I do. There is such a wealth of knowledge available, we just have to do some digging to make sense of it all.
To many, menopause is a sign of old age. The need to slow down, take naps (I love naps) and preserve energy. I think it’s far from it. Menopause is a time to rethink your life and a time to embrace the new you. We are relieved from monthly menstruation, fear of unwanted pregnancies, and the high cost of purchasing feminine products. We don’t have to try to hide our hot flashes, write off our brain fog, or pretend that we slept well when we didn’t. Menopause is nothing but a passing phase in your life. Menopause is nothing to be ashamed of.
Let's overcome the misconceptions of menopause
It is time to break the mold that we have become accustomed to. It is time to rid ourselves from the misconceptions that we are no longer fit, confident and sexy.
In her book “Daughters of Distance,” Vanessa Runs quotes Missy Berkel saying, “Getting older has changed my state of mind, because I have the confidence to finish things that I have never thought I could. I love being part of a community that values character and experience over appearance and we’re taught lines, scars, and weathered skin are celebrated”.