Perimenopause and midlife depression both found me in my forties. Both were hard to talk about. Instead, I carried them around in my invisible backback. Some days it was light. Other days I worried the weight would cause dents in my shoulders and put an end to the charade of pretending I have my shit together.
Inspired by the Blunt Moms vision (I’m an alumni), I parlayed my quest to address anxiety, brain fog and hormonal rage into a private online community about perimenopause & menopause, because I wanted to fill a glaring gap in women’s online health information. My hunch was that if I could be bold about my own journey through hormone fluctuation, somehow, other women could feel less alone too.
Along the way, I learned that everyone carries an invisible backpack. In Papua New Guinea, the Kavila tribe calls this a mokita. A mokita is anything we know to be true, but choose not to speak of—like the elephant in the room. However, the thing about mokitas is that whenever we do talk about them, we inevitably feel better.
I’ve been chatting all-things mokitas & menopause for six years now, so here are the six things I want every woman to know:
- Normal is a setting on the dryer. Know that mood changes, rage and low libido are common, and there are easy solutions, once you have the right information. Fluffing something off as “normal” causes women to put their health on the back burner.
- Marketers & media are wrong. Perimenopause & menopause are not synonyms for suffering. You are not meant to pee when you laugh. You are not sick or in need of a cure. Hot flashes are not the first sign of perimenopause; changes to bleeding and breast tenderness often are.
- There is sex after menopause. Sometimes even with a partner.
- You are not meant to “suck it up.” You deserve quality of life and now is an important time to prioritize your health. We are the first generation to reach fifty and have another fifty years to plan for. Look around: retirement homes are full of women challenged with osteoporosis and dementia. Addressing hormone health along with how you eat, move, sleep and manage stress will pay dividends down the road.
- Midlife shines a big bright spotlight on who you are, what you want in your life, as well as who. If there is shit you haven’t dealt with, it is sure to surface in midlife. Marriage. Money. Mental health. Menopause. And those are just the M words. But remember you are currently the smartest you’ve ever been, so you have what it takes to unpack that backpack. And there are people who want to support you.
- You are not alone. Crack open the conversation. Confidence comes from connection with others on a similar journey. Feeling empowered comes from knowing what questions to ask and where to ask them. And both are easier to achieve when you have a trustworthy tribe to lean on.
Shirley Weir introduces herself as a Menopause Chick. Sore boobs, sleep deprivation, depression and brain fog led Shirley to her doctor’s ofﬁce, the book store and “Dr. Google,” but she was left feeling confused, overwhelmed and alone. So she created Menopause Chicks to empower women to talk openly about perimenopause and menopause, to navigate midlife health information and to connect with women’s health professionals. Now she leads a private online community that fields an average of 15,000 questions and comments every month. Members regard the group as a trustworthy space to get their questions answered and to confirm they are not alone.
Her first book, Mokita: How to navigate perimenopause with confidence and ease, hits Amazon on Wednesday, October 24.
Order your copy: Buy Mokita