This month we talk to Helen Kemp from the Menopause Café, a biochemist by training. Helen describes herself as a reformed academic who left the lab in 2014 and now pursues her interest in women’s hormonal health, focusing on what she calls the Ticking Triad Timebomb©️ which is the intersection between menopause, trauma and mental health. A late-diagnosed aspie, Helen lives in rural Perthshire and shares her garden with a merry band of red squirrels.
I had a total-hysterectomy including the removal of both ovaries, at the age of 41. As such I went slap bang into surgical menopause. At the time I didn’t give much thought to how I would feel after the surgery. However, within a few weeks of the hysterectomy, I became anxious, my mood plummeted, and I started to experience a whole raft of seemingly unrelated issues which led to both physical and psychological symptoms.
In 2014 I had a breakdown and resigned from my job. At the time I couldn’t have cared less about my career or myself. I just wanted to run away and hide from the world. The turning point came when I started to take my mental health seriously. Looking back, I now see my breakdown and my menopause experience as a wake-up call. Mother Nature’s way of saying “no more”. I had to learn how to be kind to myself, to nourish myself and ultimately take care of myself.
My menopause toolkit involves connecting with others. I do this primarily in my role as a volunteer and Trustee at the Scottish Charity, Menopause Café. It can be very easy to become isolated, especially if social anxiety is part of your menopause experience. One of the most frequently received feedback comments after a Menopause Café event is “thank goodness I now know I am not alone”. And I should know, I was one of those women back in 2017 when I dropped into the world’s first ever Menopause Café event hosted by Rachel Weiss.
In response to COVID19, there are now twice-weekly virtual Menopause Café® events using Zoom. They’ve proven to be very popular with folk all over the world joining in from Kansas to Kathmandu, Aberdeen to Angelsey, Glasgow to Geneva. We discuss everything related to menopause, from depression to sore breasts, rage to vaginal dryness. And, whilst there are sad moments, there are also many uplifting conversations where we laugh, share moments of joy and smile together.
Full details and to sign up for online events, see: www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/menopause-cafe-group-30042318388.
To learn more about Menopause Café® head to www.menopausecafe.net.