A.Vogel Talks Menopause: The mentalpause revisited

Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

01 February 2016

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog A.Vogel Talks Menopause. Ladies, do you ever feel that you’re in the mentalpause? No, I haven’t mispronounced it. I do actually mean mentalpause. I had a lovely email from a lady a little while ago who’d been to the doctor. The doctor had told her that she was going through the mentalpause. I don’t know whether that was a mistake or not, but I thought what a fabulous word. It just explains how we feel emotionally going through the menopause.

My chat today is actually expanding on one of my most read blogs which is called Are You in the Mentalpause? I get so many emails from ladies who are worried and concerned about what’s happening to their mood, how it’s changing, how they can suddenly turn into this completely different person. I’m going to go through some of the issues that can actually be experienced in the mentalpause.

What's causing the mentalpause?

First of all, what causes it? Well, it’s your falling oestrogen again. We know that oestrogen is your happy hormone. It keeps your mood up. It keeps your mood level. It keeps you feeling happy and bouncy and energetic. When your oestrogen starts to fall in the menopause, that can affect your mood. Especially if your oestrogen starts to go up and down, then you can find that your mood can change very, very suddenly, like the snap of fingers.

We’ll have a look at some of the issues that can happen in the mentalpause…

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Anger, irritation and impatience

The first one is anger, irritation and loss of patience. It’s amazing how many women will say I’m normally a very quiet person, I very rarely lose my temper, but I’m finding now that I’m getting so angry with people. I’m getting angry about things. I’m getting irritated. People are doing things that before wouldn’t have even bothered me and now they’re absolutely irritating me to bits.

They’re losing patience both with themselves and with other people and other situations as well. They sometimes feel that this anger can get totally out of control, which can frighten them but also the other people that they’re actually dealing with. I’ve actually had a number of women who have had this total anger at work and have ended up being in very precarious situations. This is quite a big issue and it can be very off-putting and very frightening when these bouts of anger actually suddenly appear.

Mood swings

We’ve also got mood swings. You can find that you’re absolutely fine one minute and the next minute you can feel really low. You can start crying. You can be washing the dishes, reading, watching the TV, and suddenly you’re just overwhelmed and you just start to cry. The thing is you don’t actually know what you’re crying about. There’s just this total need to let go and cry your heart out.

Despair & loss of motivation

There can also be feelings of despair. You can just feel so utterly low, so utterly helpless. Again, when you think about it, you’ve absolutely no idea why. There’s also loss of motivation. You can suddenly find that all the things that you enjoy, you just think, “Oh, I can’t be bothered. I don’t want to go to work. I don’t want to talk to people. I don’t want to socialize. I just want to go and hibernate for the rest of the menopause.”

This can be quite an issue, especially if you have a really busy job where you’ve got lots of tasks to do and you’ve got to be on the ball. Even dealing with family members and family issues, it can be really hard if you just feel that you can’t be bothered with anything or with anybody as well.

It can also be just about life itself. You can be feeling what am I doing here, what’s my purpose in life, what have I done with my life or what am I going to do with the rest of my life because things are changing. You may well have your children leaving home so you’ve got the empty nest syndrome, and suddenly you’re faced with someone on the other side of the table and you don’t really know who they are anymore.

How it impacts your relationships and work life

Dealing with relationships is a big issue with this particular problem as well. I get a lot of women who are saying to me I still love my partner but I don’t like them anymore. They’re irritating me. I can’t be bothered to talk to them. I don’t want to be in their company. What am I going to do?

This can also affect your relationships with your children. A large number of women today go through the menopause will still have children at home. They suddenly find that they’re snapping at their children. They feel themselves that they’re being really horrible and they can’t actually control it. When that happens, the guilt then sets in which of course makes everything worse as well.

They can also be your relationships with your friends. You might suddenly think I can’t be bothered to go out with them anymore. I don’t enjoy their company. I’m feeling miserable. They’re sitting there as happy as Larry. There can be a feeling of isolation as well.

For some women as well, there’s also the kind of bigger picture about a spiritual side of the menopause. Where do I fit into the whole scheme of things? Women can start asking a lot of questions about that.

You’ve also got the issues with work as well. Why am I doing this? I hate this job. I don’t want to be here anymore. I have actually had a number of women who have literally gone into work one day and just handed in their notice and walked out. They hadn’t planned it, but it’s something that just happened at that particular point.

What you can do to help yourself

What can you do to actually help you through this particular part of the mentalpause? The really important thing is to tell people how you are feeling. I know it’s not always an easy thing to do. If your friends and loved ones and family are suddenly seeing the normal you disappear and this horror of a person suddenly appearing and shouting at them and being really impatient and irrational, they are going to start getting worried. Explain to them what’s happening.

It’s almost a bit like becoming a recycled teenager because you can feel the same emotional ups and downs as when you did when you were 14 or 15. If you’ve got teenagers at home going through the same thing, it can be a real big battleground. Tell them what’s happening. Tell your partners what’s going on and why you’re feeling in this particular way, then they will be more likely to understand you and to help and support you rather than ending up getting into arguments and the like as well.

It is important if you can tell somebody at work. I know it’s not easy, especially if you find that your moods are affecting your work in some way. Even if you can only confide in one particular person, then it will make it a lot easier to actually bear.

What other things can you do? Well, you can look at taking some form of phytoestrogen such as a fermented soy. That can help to keep your mood up. It can help to raise your oestrogen. It can keep your mood level.

It’s also got magnesium in it as well. For those of you that have been watching before, you know how important magnesium is for everything.

With all these emotional ups and downs that are going on, your nervous system is going to get really, really stressed. That can actually make other menopause symptoms worse as well. Take the B vits as well, and remember the daily rest and relaxation. That’s very important for helping to calm the mood as well.

How long it lasts

There is good news. This mentalpause, if you like, it’s usually only a phase in the menopause. Very few women will experience this throughout the whole of the menopause. It can last a few months or maybe six months or even a year, but there is an end to it.

The interesting thing is that coming out the other end, you may feel completely different. We know that in the menopause your oestrogen and progesterone fall. As women, we all have a little bit of testosterone in it which is the kind of male hormone. Very often, this gets left behind. You end up with a higher level of testosterone than before compared to your other hormones. That little bit of extra testosterone can give you drive, it can give you ambition, and it can give you focus. It’s really interesting that a large number of businesses that are being set up in the UK today are actually being done by menopause and post-menopausal women. There is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

Until next week...

This week’s task is something that might be a little bit difficult for you to do. We know the menopause is still shrouded in mystery. We don’t like to talk about it with other people. This week, I would like you to trust one person and tell one person that you’re going through the menopause and that you’re proud of it. Just tell me how you get on with that. Tell me how you feel about actually explaining what’s going on.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and I will look forward to another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause next week where I will have a question and answer session.

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Did you know?

You won’t get the menopause the minute you turn 50! The average starting age is actually between 45 and 55 and it can often depend on a number of factors including hereditary, weight and health, however every single woman will have an individual menopause.

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