For one, it’s a privilege denied to many – the very fact that we are still here and are able to have a future, should indeed be something that we celebrate.
But, for women in particular, there can be bumps in the road of life that are so – frankly bumpy – that they can derail us to the point that we no longer recognise the person looking back at us in the mirror. It’s also happens in midlife when we are usually juggling so many balls, the chances of dropping one with the rest then crashing down around our ears, is scarily high.
It may be after having your children – certainly for me, having given up work after baby number 3 and relocating to the country where I knew no-one, it may be a breakdown of a relationship, it may be a huge career change – or it may be a combination of all of the above. If we then stick the menopause on top of that, it’s no wonder that many women, at some time in their lives feel like they just want to rock in a corner. Menopause – the gift to women that just keeps on giving.
From the slew of physical symptoms – thank you very much weight gain that comes from nowhere and despite having an exercise programme Dame Kelly Holmes would be proud of and eating like a bird, nothing shifts from the middle. Not to mention the hot flushes, the itchiness, the tiredness, the lack of sleep – what a wonderful bunch of gifts we have bestowed upon us – often just when our offspring reach the most rewarding parenting time – the teenage years.
It seems that everyone needs a piece of us when ironically, we have no idea who we are any more. Loss of identity is such a common issue with many women but one which is rarely spoken about as something that can be so life debilitating. I would never be so patronising as to say there’s a quick fix, as there really isn’t. Plus I have absolutely ZERO medical qualifications but having been there, thought I was losing my mind and having managed to come out of the other side, I do have experience of what it is to get through it.
Firstly, I think the most important fact is to come out in front of it and recognise that there is an issue. One of the hardest things to admit is that something is wrong. It really does need you to put your head above the parapet and say that all isn’t well. It’s the trickiest step but it’s also the first and most important step on the road back to YOU. It’s the acknowledgement that you deserve better, that you deserve to be happy and that you can and must take some time for sorting YOU out.
One of the first steps I took is to learn to love again the person you see looking in the mirror. Life is too short not to feel great about yourself. And I’m a firm believer in fixing your own oxygen mask first. You’re not being fair on yourself or the people who rely on you if you’re not the best version of yourself that you can be.
It’s also important to remember that the key to looking and then feeling great isn’t about being slimmer or having a bigger budget to spend on clothes. It’s understanding and learning to find your own style – it’s learning to dress for your shape – the one you have now, not the one you perhaps once had or the one that you want, and for your lifestyle – again the one that you have, not the one you dream about!
The biggest investment that you can make on your quest to having a wardrobe of clothes you love and that love you back is time. Put the time in at the beginning to truly understand what will work for you, what you have in your wardrobe that will still work and then only buying those things that you absolutely need.
The key to becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be is confidence and starting with learning to love the person you see in the mirror is the first step on that journey.
So finishing with where we started – the positives. Knowledge and Communication. Knowledge is power and we now have a plethora of it at our fingertips to help us get out of the fog. And Communication. Women are finally talking about what once was a set of taboo subjects. With Knowledge and Communication, we can finally start helping ourselves and each other.