How Menopause Changed My Life...For The Better
- 31 May, 2020
- Written by Jacqueline Iles
I hope that you enjoyed my last blog about how I found and fell in love with Ayurveda. I received many emails thanking me for sharing my story and wanting
to know more about my Menopause journey.
So I have written chapter 2 in the hope that if my story sounds familiar then you can know that it is possible to transform your menopause and have deeper sleep, more energy, a clear mind, less aches and pains and good digestion! You can and deserve to have a joyful and enriching menopause!
Chapter 2 - How Menopause Changed My Life For The Better!
After practicing Ayurveda for seven years in the late 90’s and early 2000’s I took time off to start my family and be a full time mum. Ah the challenges
and the joys of parenting!
After seven years I felt the call to restart my Ayurvedic practice. I was excited to connect with my community again in a professional way and share what family life had taught me.
I was keen to get cracking!
Sure, I could re-establish my business and catch up with the huge technological advancements that had happened in those seven years, AND keep up with my kids needs and commitments and a partner who was, unbeknownst to us at the time, suffering depression. (I'm happy to say that he is also much better now!)
Time for me? I didn’t need that! I was doing what I loved. It was a joy to be offering my services to my clients again. That was my time… right?
After all, I was a strong, independent woman who was accustomed to having a full and busy life.
But…overwhelm and depletion crept up on me.
You see, it generally doesn't hit all at once. It is sneaky and our body's self-protection mechanisms kick in and draw on our deeper reserves of energy to help us cope.
And I was coping… Yes I was coping just fine, thanks! In fact, it was a buzz being so busy! Until, my wellspring of energy and vitality dried up
and I wasn’t coping anymore.
I had chronic insomnia. It took me hours to get to sleep and I would often wake in the night with hot flushes.
I had become anxious and started putting on extra weight.My digestion was a mess. I was often so bloated I couldn’t breathe deeply, which perpetuated the
My menstrual cycle was suddenly erratic. I would skip months at a time. The build-up came with hot flushes and such irritability I felt like a volcano. My poor family! Everything felt like a struggle. Where had my joy for life gone?
Libido? Let’s just say there was none, zero, zilch.
I started having intense headaches often connected to my cycle.My skin had become overly sensitive.
And the hot flushes...did I mention them! Holy moly!
I was in overdrive and overwhelm. I was depleted and worn out. I was seriously out of whack!
But menopause? It was not even on my mind! I was 41…menopause was a distant thing. My friends weren’t talking about it. It simply was not a part of my reality.
Finally, while driving one day to meet a friend, I had a panic attack.
I was rushing, although I didn't need to. It had just become my default mode of being. Sound familiar?
It took this panic attack, the sweaty palms, shortness of breath, racing heart, for me to FINALLY REALISE how far I had strayed from myself,
my centre, my heart, my joy, my balance and good health.
It was time to stop.
It was time to listen to the cries of my body and come back to the knowledge and practices that Ayurveda had given me, but I had forgotten to live.
I learned the hard way that knowledge is not enough. It is how we live, the little things we do each day that will, over time, build us up or wear us down.
It is how we live leading up to menopause that will, in a large part, determine our experience.
I was lucky enough to know how to start on my path of self-healing.
Before my final days of Menopause in 2016 I brought regularity and balance back into my cycles and my life. With what I now call my Sacred Self Care Practices my sleep, digestion, headaches and energy all improved and my joy for life was back!
The practice of Self-massage was a life saver for me. It became a keystone habit that to this day keeps me nourished and grounded. I also took specific organic herbs to support my journey to better health.
Looking back it truly felt like a transformation from a burnt out shell to a Spring tree blossoming with new life!
I was very thankful to discovered Dr. Claudia Welch at this time. This wonderful warmhearted, internationally renowned Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine Doctor was in Adelaide in 2014 sharing her knowledge and her book "Balance your Hormones; Balance your Life" (Ladies...get your hands on this book!)
We spoke the same Ayurvedic language the crux of which is that true health is called Swasthya – the harmony and right functioning of body, mind, emotions, spirit and living in right relationship with nature and our environment.
Dr Claudia became my mentor on Women's Health, Ayurveda and life. I spent three years doing her mentorship courses which deepened my knowledge on Hormonal Imbalances and Women’s Health. It was a very enriching time.
I knew in Ayurvedic terms that I was experiencing excessively high Vata (Air energy) and depletion but Dr Claudia gave me the language to describe my symptoms hormonally - adrenal fatigue, chronically high levels of cortisol, very low progesterone and low estrogen.
I learned that replacing these hormones via herbs or hormone replacement therapy without addressing the deeper causes of my high cortisol, stress levels and my dissatisfaction with how I was living was simply a band-aid approach: like filling a leaky bucket without plugging up the hole.
(Please note I do recognise that HRT can be live saving as a stop gap measure to bring balance to an intolerable situation. It can be just what a woman needs to bring her sanity and energy back enough to address the deeper causes : ) However long term use of HRT has scientifically proven dangerous side effect on women's health including, among other things, increased risk of breast cancer).
Dr. Claudia taught me that “our hormonal balance is a reflection of how we have been living and the level of satisfaction we have with the choices
that we have made in our life".
When I first heard this it stopped me in my tracks.
Yes, I had been struggling against the reality of my life with two kids and a business and yes I had been living as a super woman trying to ‘make it all happen’.
In hindsight I can see how I had fallen into the too common trap of putting others needs before my own. I was giving too much of myself without filling my own cup.
I was in full steam masculine doing mode.
I had forgotten how to rest.
I had forgotten how to receive both from others and from myself.
Ayurveda brought me a very long way on my journey back to health. Then, more recently, Prasanna Diana Manuella of Elemental Woman gave me the gift of remembering how to reconnect with my feminine essence and vitality to bring even more joy and energy back into my life!
I relearned how to receive and how to be kind to myself. I let go of giving myself a hard time and thinking, “with all I had learned in my studies and life, how did I get so depleted?”
I made the initially tricky effort to STOP and ALLOW myself to have a nap on the couch and honour the need for down time.
I stopped listening to those voices in my head that called me lazy or slack. Do you hear those voices too?
I retrained myself to do one thing at a time and stop multi-tasking and scattering my energy!
I set some solid boundaries with others.
I came back to my heart, my truth.
I came back home to me.
We live in a society that largely honours the masculine way of constant growth and achievement, which glorifies youth and disparages aging.
For too long Menopause has been labelled as the gateway to old age and to losing one’s allure or worth. For too long has medical culture viewed Menopause as a problem rather than a natural event. Enough!
Menopause is the greatest transition in an adult woman’s life. It is a time when our inner voice speaks more clearly.
Author of many books on Women’s Health, Dr Christiane Northrup describes how hormone changes during peri-menopause actually change the brain and make women more intuitive. The changing levels of progesterone verses estrogen effects the temporal lobe, the site of intuition.
This is why menopause is the time to recognise long buried needs and make the changes to create the life you want to be living.
I know it takes courage to make these changes; to put yourself first without feeling guilty; to integrate your shadows and embrace all of who you are.
I know it takes loving mindfulness to slow down and stay connected with your inner wisdom as you navigate modern living. But it is there that you’ll receive the guidance and support that will create more ease in your life.
It takes time to really change the deeply ingrained patterns of overdoing. I still need to gently remind myself to not get pulled into the fast stream but to listen to my body, trust and say yes to that which lights me up and brings me joy.
It is time to change the dialogue around Menopause. As more women share their stories we can rewrite the current vilification of Menopause and gift our daughters, nieces and younger women friends with a truer version of what menopause can be for them.
I also believe that it is important to allow time to say goodbye to the previous stage of our lives. Time to find acceptance and allow the grief that can come for the loss of our cycles. I felt sad in the beginning when my cycles had stopped. I missed the cyclic nature of menstruating. I missed the innate connection to my womb space. And I felt sad knowing that I wouldn't ever have the experience of synching my cycle with my daughters when she starts her menstruating.
I now know that I still have cycles, linked to the moon and nature. They are just not as obvious! I still connect to my womb space through meditation and visualisation and gain so much grounding, peace and energy from connecting within.
I am so grateful for my Menopause. It transformed my life for the better!
I am also so very grateful for the wise women who have supported my journey to deeper health and balance. When women share knowledge and support each other magic happens!
I am now happier, stronger, healthier and more at peace than ever before. There is less striving, less pushing and more being in the flow of my own life. I choose to age with ease, joy and good health!
If you’ve made it to the end of this longer than expected story…thank you for reading! I hope that my story can spark in you the vision of Menopause as the gift that it truly is.
I would love to hear your comments and thoughts. How is, or was your menopause? Are you on the other side but still experiencing uncomfortable symptoms? Or do you have concerns about approaching Menopause? I would love to hear from you!
If you would like my help to transform your menopause or even to prepare yourself for it by creating more balance in your life now, if would be my honour to support you.
Feel free to share my story with any woman you know it would benefit.