Gillian Anderson opens up about menopause: ‘We need to have these conversations openly and without shame’

Actress Gillian Anderson, alongside her friend and journalist Jennifer Nadel, candidly spoke about menopause for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter.
Gillian Anderson & Jennifer Nadel

The interview was inspired by the twosome’s new book, We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere, which encourages women to open up about their struggles.

In the article, the women describe the side effects of menopause, including hot flushes, anxiety, shifts in weight and depression.

Anderson, who admits to having symptoms of early menopause in her late 20’s/early 30’s, said:

“How wonderful would it be if we could get to a place where we are able to have these conversations openly and without shame,”

Nadel begins by describing feelings of forgetting things, ‘Memory loss was a huge one for me. I thought that I was getting dementia. I would just go into my brain to try and pull a few facts off the shelf. I’d be halfway through a sentence and I simply couldn’t find them. And when that happens on a regular basis, it can get scary. Now I make myself speak, and if I forget or can’t locate the stats to back up my point, I tell the truth: “Sorry, it’s my menopause brain.”

‘And when I own it out loud, the fear gets less, and I find other women start admitting it too.’

The two women go onto discuss perimenopause, which is where a woman’s period stops, and the menopause symptoms begin to show.

Anderson describes the experience of perimenopause as being out of balance.

“I was used to being able to balance a lot of things, and all of a sudden I felt like I could handle nothing. I felt completely overwhelmed. When I talked to the menopause specialist, she said that she often gets phone calls from female CEOs screaming down the phone, ‘I need help now! I am losing my mind!’ And that’s completely right. I felt like somebody else had taken over my brain,” she wrote.

The X-Files star also praised Angelina Jolie for her bravery at admitting she’d had her breasts and ovaries removed, sub sequentially going into menopause.

Jolie is “pushing back against the narrative that ageing is bad,” says Anderson, which allowed for more famous women to open up and  “shake the shame around it.”

Nadel concludes:

‘So, yeah, it’s up to all of us, really, to have the conversation out loud, so that we start to change the way we think about it and talk about it.’

Read the full interview here

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