Menopause can be a lonely journey. Our mental health can suffer, which in turn, can make us feel lonely and round the viscous cycle goes; subsequently have a negative impact on our overall health.
There is much misconception that people who have people around them constantly and are very social are not lonely; anybody can feel lonely at any time and loneliness may not be due to the quantity of company or social habits, although for many this is a factor.
Social habits for each person vary; most people need some kind of social contact to maintain their mental health. However, this may come in all type and forms; some people may find a text here and there is all they need, some people need 1 close friends and others need a large group; everybody is different.
Many women transitioning through menopause can feel irritability, anxiety and depression 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; one woman reported not leaving her house for a year due to her weight gain and thinning hair. These unfortunate symptoms lead to isolation and loneliness.
A full theory list on why menopausal women become lonely are as follows:
- 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 behaviours 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 socialising an impossible effort. A nap at home or watching TV in bed sounds much more appealing.
- Embarrassment- Digestive issues, hair loss, weight gain, body odour etc… It can be hard not to overthink each of these issues and get it in our heads that people will notice things that was a lot more apparent to us and laugh at us or judge us. A prime example is, the embarrassment you may have when you laugh and leak as a result of spending time with friends.
- Stigma- Despite major changes in society and our willingness to start the conversation about menopause, many women will still not admit to their natural problems.
- Divorce- There are many divorces and relationship breakdowns past age 40, and whilst lots of us women are relieved to get out of the relationship and feel free, there is lots of lost opportunity for socialising or exclusion from social circles.
- Depression- Depression can develop and spike, especially in perimenopause, consequently leaving women vulnerable to isolation and loneliness
How to cope with feeling lonely during the change
First of all, think about why you are lonely. Having alone time is completely different to being lonely; alone time in menopause is great to regroup and recharge as long as you are comfortable and happy with it. Previous reasons for feeling lonely in menopause have included:
- Not feeling understood
- Arguments with close friends in moments of irritability, anger in 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
What can I do about feeling lonely in menopause?
Mind.org tell us to think of feeling lonely 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 contact.
If you are not feeling understood find people that understand you! The best example we can think of is HOT FLUSH CLUB! 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 and ear and take time for you.
Joining groups or classes of people who will have similar interests to you is a great way to meet new people and get out the house. Volunteering is also a great way to improve your mental health; helping others gives us a serotonin boost.
Join online communities; the internet has a community for any imaginable thing in the world! You can find pages and people who spend their time just to make you laugh! Plus, you can be completely anonymous if you wish. Try Reddit and Facebook.
Get out there!
If you’re lonely because you’re single, get out there! Get dating or get online dating. The love of your life will not suddenly turn up in your kitchen one day (unless it’s the plumber). It may be daunting but just take small steps; sign up to a dating site, nobody says you have to meet anybody, your first step can be window shopping.
If you have fallen out with friends, take steps to mend the friendship. We are all at an age where we rarely hold grudges and just want peace.
Get fluffy.. or scaley
Get a pet! Getting a dog has helped one of our HFC founders tremendously! Poppy; our gorgeous bearded collie, gets Debbie out the house, exercising and meeting other dog owners wherever she goes. Dogs are social magnets!
Most importantly, use your reasons for being lonely and reduce the barriers that stand in your way! If its weight gain, get moving and motivated to change, if its incontinence, get working on that pelvic floor! Any steps in improving yourself will enhance your self-esteem, and get you feeling confident, energised and happy! You can do it!
How will things get better?
Just because you have connections or have joined online communities doesn’t mean your loneliness will instantly disappear, you have to open up and voice your feelings. Decide who you feel most comfortable talking to or posting to online and you really will be surprised by the care and support you receive! In moments of despair we forget people care and they can’t care until we tell them what’s wrong.
If you feel anxious about talking to new people, join classes where you aren’t expected to talk to people straight away – perhaps where there’s an activity going on. I joined ParkRun; a free weekly 5k run/walk around my local park where there is 0 obligation to interact, but then you get chatting eventually and pick up some great friends.
If the thought of any of this is too daunting, you may need to consider vising your GP for talking therapy.
You will not feel lonely forever and you can get through anything! Menopause can trick you into dark places, you just have to find a way to shine, get out, and be in control! Always remember we are available 24/7 on our forum or on social media and so are all of our lovely HFC ladies; with us you are never lonely! <3