The taboo of talking about ‘the change’

I’m currently reading Jenni Murray’s book Is it me, or is it hot in here? A modern woman’s guide to the menopause (Random House, 2003). The writing is ‘light’ while taking the subject very seriously, providing personal stories, helpful tips and medical information.

I’d decided to take Murray’s book out from the library after having increasingly frequent conversations with friends about perimenopausal symptoms, some of which can be quite distressing, and about which many friends seemed slightly embarassed. It got me to thinking about what we feel we can share with friends, even friends of the same age and sex, who we might expect to be more accepting of certain ‘taboo’ subjects. It also got me thinking about how we talk about mental health, as increased levels of anxiety are a frequent event in the build up to the menopause…when does our fear and/or feelings of shame stop us from reaching out to those who we normally trust and love?

All this thinking brought me back to a conclusion (which may sound cliched) I’d reached some time ago: we need to do our best to make space for our loved ones to talk about difficult and scary topics, and also ask our loved ones to make that space for us, because most problems seem bigger and more insurmountable when we feel isolated.