Some years ago I was fortunate to discover the work of, the wonderful, Alexandra Pope, author of
‘The Wild Genie’ and ‘The Women’s Quest’. It was from there that I immersed myself in the world
of menstrual awareness. I became increasingly aware of the wisdom of the menstrual cycle and
the gifts within it. On this journey I discovered much, one of the main things being that as women
we are often sold a story that is incomplete. In the popular media periods are portrayed as just a
physical phenomenon; they are not seen as a gift that offer self awareness, which I, and
increasingly many others, believe them to be.
As I approached middle age I realised that I had been sold another half story, this time about
menopause and peri menopause. In fact, it was not until I started on this journey that I had even
heard of the phrase ‘perimenopause’. It made me realise just how little I knew about the next
transition that lay before me. So I started looking for the rest of the story. For somewhere inside I
could feel that as middle age woman I was not going to quietly recede from society and that
maybe even the opposite was true. Could this phase of our lives open up opportunities?
Like pregnancy, labour and the menstrual cycle, it is usually the horror stories that we are told. I
recognise that these experiences maybe challenging and not always ‘positive’, but they are not
always negative either. It is often the positive aspect of the story that is left out. Menopause might
be challenging in many different ways, both physically and emotionally, but what of its gifts? I was
intrigued as to what lay ahead and what these gifts might be. I wanted to enter this phase of my
life consciously, with awareness and with more of the story. So I began to explore what might lie
I discovered that before entering menopause many women experience times of tiredness, anxiety,
doubt, depression and anger. So while they might not have any physical symptoms, this phase
can have a huge impact on their emotional lives, especially as many do not realise that these
symptoms may be caused by perimenopause. It is often only with hindsight, when they enter
menopause, that they realise this. This reminded me of the menstrual cycle. How many times
have you heard either yourself or a friend say ‘I thought that I was going mad but then I got my
period and realised I was just premenstrual’? However what do we leave out if we dismiss these
feelings and emotions?
Dr. C. Northrup likens this perimenopause phase to the premenstrual phase of the menstrual
cycle. A time for going inwards and reflection. This can be challenging, particularly with our busy
lives and within a society that doesn’t always value quiet reflection and withdrawing. It is seen as
optimum if we can always be switched on and dynamic. But I feel it’s vitally important to harvest
the gifts of the perimenopause phase and to hear what is calling you.
There also seems to be a split between women around menopause. Between those who take
HRT and those who don’t. There seems to me to be some judgments, on both sides, that I believe
can stop women coming together. If we can respect that we all have our own medicine and own
journey, we can then cultivate a nonjudgmental attitude towards each other. This coming
together itself could be very supportive and healing. It may also be very powerful, and that is
essentially what I think we are really talking about with the menopause transition. It’s about a
woman, and women coming into their power.
I think that’s really exciting; the thought that, at menopause, women do not fade from society, but
rather they come into their own power. I now run workshops in which women can come together
and explore this, and other ideas and issues around perimenopause and menopause.
Together we can write the other part of the story and tell it to others.
Guest Post from Diane Salisbury
I currently work as a counsellor in private practice in North London. I also run workshops on perimenopause / menopause, the next one is in the 8th June in North London.