Earlier this year menopause kicked in big time for me. While I had some over-heating moments, the worst thing about it was that I felt completely exhausted all the time. Even after a good night’s sleep I still felt I was running on fumes with nothing left in the tank.
And on top of the fatigue I felt irritable, vulnerable and emotionally on the edge.
At the time, I was in the middle of trying to write a book as well as do my day job, but I was finding it hard work.
After two tearful visits to the GP to seek reassurance that I wasn’t going crazy a moment of insight occurred while I was out walking with the dog.
As I was scuffing my way through the fallen leaves it dawned on me why I was feeling angry. Here I was going through all this and what was the point of it anyway, every month of my adult life I’d had a menstrual cycle. Now this was at an end and my body was going through another transition, and for what… I DON’T HAVE CHILDREN!
And then the penny dropped… here it was again… that sadness about not being a mum. I thought I’d dealt with this, had moved on and accepted it but I was wrong. Here was another stage in my journey.
Being childless is a silent, intangible and invisible grief that can make you feel very alone. It has the same emotions of other bereavements but it’s about grieving what’s not to be rather than grieving what you’ve treasured and lost.
Recognising that this sadness was creating a deeper dimension to my symptoms was a turning point for me. I now knew what I was dealing with – loss.
I am a great believer in a holistic approach to wellbeing issues and in the importance of having a supportive team around you. In my professional capacity as a therapist I am fortunate to have support through coaching, mentoring, supervision and professional networks.
Letting go of the grief at being childless
Realising that loss was a recurring theme in my life, I decided to use some of my coaching sessions to work on this. This included some therapy specifically to clear the emotion of grief. With this support, I was able to realise my grief had become a barrier, something I had been holding on to. It was quite literally keeping me stuck. This new insight helped me to let it go.
And since investing in myself in this way, things have changed enormously for me. My energy is much improved, I feel more connected in my relationships, and my menopausal symptoms have mostly gone.
And I now recognise that I am not on my own. I have a supportive personal network around me which includes my family and two close friends who are both childless and who listen to me and get who I am. I also have a network based on playing tennis, socially and competitively.
Being active and doing the things that give me joy, such as playing tennis and walking the dog, also keep me strong and positive.
And with moving on from my grief and feeling in a better place, I’ve been able to overcome my writer’s block, crack on with the rest of my book about infertility so that it’s now due to be published very soon. I have also written an article about my fertility work for a special edition of an online magazine in support of National Fertility Awareness Week 2016.
And after reading the courageous personal stories about fertility struggles, including the grief of childlessness shared as part of this important awareness-raising week I was inspired to write this.
So, all in all life is in better flow for me now.
Menopause helped me to acknowledge and face a painful truth and feel all the stronger for it.
I am sure I am not alone in going through this experience. Menopause can often stir up strong feelings of grief for many different reasons – grief over a personal loss, a changing body, going through a significant life transition, to name a few.