In this conversation at Lenny, Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel reflect on the maddening and sometimes little-known symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The goal? To get more women talking about the flow and ebb of the female reproductive cycle and how it affects them, their work, their partners, and their families.
Gillian Anderson: Perimenopause, as I understand it, is a period of time that can last anywhere from a few years to even a decade before one’s period actually stops, before one actually goes into menopause proper. What happens is, over time our levels of estrogen start to deplete, and as a result we develop symptoms like anxiety, depression, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and find it harder and harder to cope with the normal routines of our lives.
Jennifer Nadel: 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. You can stop wanting to engage in an argument or put your point across because you might forget what it is halfway through. I found myself becoming silent. I was losing my voice through fear of not being able to deliver in the way that I’d taken for granted all my life. 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.