How Does “The Menopause” Connect with Coaching, Especially in the Context of Neurodiversity?

For some women the menopause is a slight change nothing to major and for others; it hits like a freight train!

However; and it is a big however! It is well documented in the medical profession that there is more to the menopause than physical biological changes there are also neurological changes.

Physical symptoms

  • night sweats
  • changes in the regularity and flow of the menstrual cycle, culminating in cessation of menstruation
  • vaginal dryness
  • difficulty sleeping/insomnia
  • hair loss/thinning
  • Hot flushes

Less visible physical changes

  • neurological changes in the brain
  • changes in mood
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • forgetfulness

We can all recognise the clearly visible physical symptoms and we will talk about them, complain about them. So what stops us doing the same with the less physically visible symptoms. Just because you cannot see something does not mean that it is not there!

Just because you cannot see forgetfulness or anxiety does not mean they are not there. They are neurological changes; they can really mess with your head and life.

You withdraw from social activities because you feel uncomfortable in yourself and/or the way you look. Anxiety quietly creeps in, you constantly question your decision making, over analysing conversations which can then start a process of negatively questioning things in your life leading to a break down in personal relationship and professional positions. My personal favourite is forgetfulness, which my wonderful children took full advantage of until I discovered medication for an underactive thyroid.

Sound of Silence: Simon and Garfunkel

” a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision that was planted in my brain”

These things do not come all at once or clearly pop up and say; “hello, I am here”. Oh no, they do it very slowly and quietly over years sometimes, add these together with interrupted sleeping and you can end up a wreck. You can question yourself so much that you think it’s all in your head. Believe me; you are certainly not the only one who will be sat there thinking “is this all in my head”? To which the answer is “NO”!! It is the very real physical biological and neurological changes in your body.

At this point you do not feel neurotypical, you feel neurodiverse. You have moved from your life of normality and familiar ways to a neurodiverse status asking; what the heck is going on? I do not feel normal; how do I process this?

When the menopause happens – do we go and shout about it from the tallest tree. Never! Us women would never do that! We are internally conditioned to downplay it, keep it private, keep it in a little box to one side, say nothing and get on with everything. Some of us may chat to friends or close female family members but that’s about it. In general the menopause has a negative image especially in the workplace.

Would you say anything to your workplace manager? My guess is never! As you are already in the throws of menopause you are questioning your professional identity. In your mind you do not want to be seen as a lesser being, a weakened female. When in reality your are not a lesser being and you can and do your job excellently. You have not suddenly become rubbish at your job or awful within your relationship

Whether at home, relationship or in the workplace give yourself the space to adjust. Understand that your body is changing and with this change can come a new positive approach to life in general. How can you create a positive approach to your new life?

Share your menopause journey, reflect on your values and reframe how you feel about yourself.

Think of it like this; everyone refers to men having a midlife crisis, they go out and buy a 2 seater sports car; when you have a family of 4 with 2 dogs! But apparently it is not a big deal.

Treat the menopause as an opportunity to move your life in a direction you choose at home, relationship and the workplace.

Coping with – or better still managing symptoms

Read up about what the menopause is and its effects, through better understanding you will be better able to manage and harness the menopause symptoms. Knowledge is power.

  • Seek medical advise, a good and useful starting point that needs to be supported by other changes.
  • Exercise is a life saver. Your body looses strength in the muscles and ligaments you need to work on this or there will be no more wearing that sexy pair of heels. Yes, I am talking form experience there. Find something that works for you, try a few before choosing one.
  • Set a regular sleep pattern; a bit like you do for children
  • Control stress points, manage points that cause stress you know they will/can happen put measures in place that can limit the impact or stop it altogether
  • Read up on your diet and what foods are good to eat. Do not go on the latest fad diet. Your body need a different balance of mineral, vitamins and oils find out what works for you everyone is different.
  • Look after yourself before everyone else give yourself time to process
  • Talk to friend/s and shared experience is much better than letting it wizz around your head.

Find a person who you can talk to that will give you the space to grow without judgement. A neurodiverse coach will allow you the space to understand and harness those neurological changes in your brain.

Coaching is a collaborative partnership between you and the coach, using the skills of active listening, questioning, observation, and feedback, that focusses entirely on helping you achieve your own personal and/or professional goals and objectives. Coaching is forward-focused process that challenges you to move forward in a positive way.

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