Menopause Mondays: The Best Thing I Learned From My Mother

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My Mom is a petite woman – yet very big.
She is soft spoken – yet very outspoken.
She is delicate – yet strong.
She is understated – yet elegant.
She is wise – yet modest.
She is dedicated to helping others – yet she dedicates her life to our family.
She is 93– yet she is young.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

My mother was always trying to teach me the best ways to approach life’s challenges. She used the finest tools available to her. But she came from a very different generation. She was brought up when women were not taught to speak up. It was not her fault that she missed the boat when it came to teaching me about perimenopause and menopause.

See, when I entered the hormonal throes of perimenopause, I was irritable, uncomfortable, troubled by memory loss, sleeplessness and a variety of other lovely symptoms. Worst of all, I felt like some demon had taken over my body and was eating away at my capacity for rational thought.

Confused and scared, I turned to my go-to person for all female issues: my mom. You can imagine my reaction when she told me that she didn’t have time for menopause. Her motto was, “I’m fine, fine, super fine.” Well, I didn’t feel like I had time for menopause either, but my symptoms made it impossible for me to ignore it and trust me, I was far from fine!

Later, after putting some pieces of a family puzzle together, I figured out the reason for my mother’s denial. My grandmother had gone through a very severe depression during menopause. In those days, some women like my grandmother were given shock therapy for menopausal depression. Can you imagine?! My mom had to take a leave of absence from her teaching job to take care of her mother. No wonder my mom “didn’t have time” for menopause! Who would want to have time for that?

Ellen Dolgen and MomSome experiences can silence even the strongest women. I wish I could reach back in time and give my grandmother a hug and let her know that I understand what she was going through. I wish that my mom had been more open with me about the things she was going through instead of feeling she had to always be the rock of the family.

The journeys of my mom and grandmother helped fuel my urgent and relentless desire to seek out a perimenopause and menopause specialist, get answers, and find hormone happiness. I learned that women shouldn’t have to suffer through perimenopause and menopause, and the biggest reason they were—and still are—is because women are still not prepared for perimenopause and menopause! For the most part, we still think this is a taboo topic!

As women, we know when something just doesn’t feel or seem right. It’s our responsibility to give our feelings credit—both for ourselves and for the sake of other women worldwide. It’s time to set a precedent for how women should feel in their own bodies. From puberty to menopause—and everything in between—it’s up to us to know our bodies and ensure they have what they need for a happy, healthy life. However, many women are still scared to speak up and feel like they have to power through on their own.

That’s why I couldn’t have been more proud when my daughter walked into her doctor’s office and demanded to have the proper blood panels taken for fertility testing. She stood up for herself and her health, and now, two years later, mid planning for her upcoming wedding and her life ahead, family planning is no mystery to her. Her health is no mystery to her. She is entering this exciting new chapter of her life as an active participant. Life isn’t something that just happens to her. She makes her life—and the life she deserves—happen.

In memory of our grandmothers and in honor of our dear, sweet moms, let’s help break the taboo nature that surrounds menopause. We need to teach the women of the next generation that they don’t have to be, “fine, fine, super fine” all the time. They should speak up and get the help they both need and deserve.

I hope my daughter can say that the best thing I ever taught her was how to be an advocate for her own health and happiness. I hope the same for all of the daughters of the Sisterhood! Together, we can make it happen!

Reaching out is IN!  Suffering in silence is OUT!

 

 



After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • My mom had a hysterectomy, so her “change of life” was defined by that one, swift act and the few weeks of adjustment following. Women are the keepers of their family members’ bodies, so it’s odd to me that prior generations did not talk more openly about their own bodies. They talked to each other about cold remedies, potty training, etc. Keep up the good work advocating for a better approach for moving through menopause.

    • Karen, Thank you so much. You comment was touching. Each of us have our own personal memories of how our mothers’ or grandmothers’ health journeys, and how much it’s changed our lives today.

  • My mom also grew up in a generation that did not question a doctor’s advice. After many health issues, she has found her voice and makes sure she’s heard these days.

    • That is so true Connie. That was the generation to believe that doctors knew best. We know best about our bodies so it’s so important we educate ourselves, do our research and ask questions. I hope your mom is feeling better now.

  • Ellen, this really hit home for me. My mother has always been as unsympathetic as possible about reproductive health issues, starting with telling me repeatedly during adolescence, “I never had a cramp in my life. I don’t know what is wrong with you,” and then leaving me unmedicated, confused, and alone with the pain. I try to be open with my own daughter, but it is still hard for me.

    • Hi Ginger, Thank you for opening up here. I hope by writing this we learn from our mothers and break cycles. We don’t have to suffer in silence any more. As I say, “Reaching out is IN! Suffering in Silence is OUT!” Let’s encourage an understanding environment in our own homes and your daughter will do the same with their daughters and so on and so forth. xo

  • While I wrote about my mom being a “revolutionary” by working full-time at a time when women were mainly stay at home moms, when it came to sex, the subject was forbidden and taboo. No one EVER told me the “facts of life” or about menopause (how WAS my son born??). We never talked about anything sexual, and still don’t to this day. I am so behind the eight ball when it comes to anything sexual, or anything about a woman’s body. At least that’s how I feel when I listen to you, Ellen. Thank goodness I bought “Our Bodies, Our Selves” in college. Taking that mirror out was a real shocker!

  • How wonderful that your daughter has such a take-charge attitude about her own health. No doubt, Ellen, she has been inspired by you!

    • Thank you so much Grown and Flown. That is so sweet of you.

  • Cathy, I’m surprised by your comment as getting to know you I feel like you’re much more open now. I hope you continue to open us. There is nothing to be embarrassed about when talking about our bodies, our selves. xo

  • Ellen: This is an important story for your mission . . . I now understand your total passion for the topic of menopause. I was touched and enlightened. Sharing yourself through this story was powerful. Thank you.

  • I am so grateful to be alive in a time where women can be so empowered? I love that you have devoted your blog to this topic. How wonderful that your mom is 93. I hope to get to your event.

  • As hard as it is for us, I can’t imagine how scary and confusing menopause was for our mothers and grandmothers. Your daughter is very lucky to be able to turn to you -and so are we! xo

  • Great advice!

  • Helene Cohen Bludman

    I can just tell how proud your mom AND your daughter are of you. You talk the talk and walk the walk! Always enjoy your posts, Ellen.

    • Thanks Helene. It is true. I always enjoy reading your posts too.

  • Pat

    Good advice. Thanks for telling it like it is and helping a lot of us face the changes straightforwardly.

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