How did you come about the idea for this book and why did you pick the menopause as a topic?
In terms of specific inspiration, Making Friends with the Menopause is closely related to my first non-fiction book, Making Friends with Anxiety, in which I draw on my own experience of anxiety disorder and recovery to provide help on managing worry and panic. Writing that led me to wonder if there might be a link between my own feelings of panic and my age – I was going through the menopause. Yet when I asked my GP, I was told it was ‘unlikely’ the two were connected. I got the same response from a psychiatrist. I decided to investigate further, and Making Friends with the Menopause was born.
Do you think women get enough support through the menopause? Do you think you knew enough about it?
No and no! Until I researched the book, I could have summed up my knowledge of ‘the change’ on the back of a rather small envelope and I'm sure I'm not alone in my ignorance. Talking about the menopause remains almost taboo, and the result is that this transition from one stage of our lives to another frequently remains shrouded in mystery until we find ourselves in the middle of it, floundering and unsure. It’s a contradiction: on one hand the menopause is one of the only experiences common to all women; on the other it’s one of the least talked about!
Do you feel that skin and hair ageing is a concern for women during and after the menopause or is this overshadowed by the more ‘serious’ symptoms and health implications?
Whilst I fully appreciate that symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia can have a significant impact on women’s health and cause great distress, I don’t think we should brush the other changes under the carpet. I know that for me and many of the women I've spoken to, looking good is closely bound up with self-esteem. If we feel our skin and hair appear unattractive, our confidence suffers and that can impact our relationships, our sex lives, our work and our mental health. It’s important to understand all the effects of the menopause and post menopause so we can deal with them in ways we find appropriate.