Have you felt that overwhelming sense of loneliness in your menopause journey? Do you feel like your mental health is suffering?
If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you probably feel like you’re in a vicious cycle that subsequently has a negative impact on your overall health.
The idea of menopause has long held negative connotations in our society, largely tied to stigmas of aging. Still, the transition to menopause can be a time of reflection and inspiration. It’s a normal and natural part of a woman’s life, and a period of life that can be just as well lived as earlier stages.
Many women transitioning through menopause can feel irritable, anxious and depressed, which all may lead to a level of social anxiety and avoidance. Or, there are many women transitioning who have lost their confidence and are unhappy about their appearance. It’s a sad reality that some woman do not leave their homes for extended periods of time because they are embarrassed by weight gain and thinning hair. These unfortunate symptoms lead to isolation and loneliness.
Here’s why loneliness sets in during menopause:
- Irritability – As estrogen levels decline, often, it takes with it some of the urge to nurture others. Many women find they are simply less tolerant of other people and less willing to put up with behaviors that did not seem as annoying to them previously.
- Anxiety – Feelings of doom and gloom or fear of panic attacks make small talk or even entering a room full of people impossible.
- Fatigue – The exhaustion that affects many women transitioning through menopause makes socializing an impossible effort. A nap at home or watching TV in bed sounds much more appealing.
- Embarrassment – Digestive issues, hair loss, weight gain, body odor etc… It can be hard not to overthink each of these issues. We get it in our heads that people will notice these things and laugh at us or judge us. A prime example is, the embarrassment you feel when you laugh and leak at the same time. No one knows this happened except you, but we tend to beat ourselves up and isolate.
- Stigma – Despite major changes in society and our willingness to start the conversation about menopause, many women will still not admit to their “natural” symptoms and menopausal issues. Rather, they choose to isolate and succumb to the perceived stigma they believe is real.
- Divorce – There are many divorces and relationship breakdowns past age 40. Although many women are relieved to get out of these difficult relationships and feel a sense of freedom, there are many lost opportunities for socializing because of exclusion from social circles.
- Depression – Depression can develop and spike, especially in perimenopause, consequently leaving women vulnerable to isolation and loneliness.
How to overcome loneliness:
First of all, think about why you are lonely. Having alone time is completely different to being lonely. Alone time is a great opportunity to regroup and recharge as long as you are comfortable and happy with it. Take time to reflect on what you did right the first two-thirds of your life, and care to dream about your next twenty-five years or so.
Your reasons for feeling lonely in menopause may include:
- Not feeling understood
- Arguments with close friends in moments of irritability or anger during mood swings
- Not having friends that are going through the same thing
- Absence of a partner or close friend or family
- Not feeling cared about
Feeling lonely is like feeling hungry; when our body gets hungry, we must feed it. When we feel lonely, it’s our body telling us we need more social contact or more meaningful connections.
When you are feeling lonely and misunderstood, it’s important to find people who understand you! The best example I can think of is being part of a community like our Menopause Support Group. Who better to understand what you’re going through than a group of women in the exact same position? Even if you have an obscure case, you have the sympathy, support, and care of a huge network of women who are all happy to lend an ear and take time for you.
You will not feel lonely forever, and you can get through anything! Menopause can trick you into dark places. It’s really a mind game. You must CHOOSE to find a way to shine, get out, and overcome the loneliness. Feel the feeling but don’t become the emotion. Witness it, Allow it, then Release it.
Have the courage to face the world knowing that you’re in good company and that these unwelcome symptoms will not last forever. Put your shoulders back, stand tall, stick a geranium in your hat, and be happy.