We sat down (virtually!) with menopause creator Kamili Wilson, who is the voice behind the popular Instagram account @menopause_made_modern to talk about her menopause journey and her mission to create an inclusive platform to help other women navigate the menopause transition.
Here are some highlights from our conversation...
Q:Tell us more about your menopause journey, how did you know you were in menopause?
KW: I first started really experiencing symptoms related to perimenopause at 43, although I don't believe I had the language at that time to know it was perimenospause or what that was, I just knew that I wasn't feeling like myself. It really manifested most cogently in the workplace, where I was experiencing extreme mood swings, namely, bouts of rage that were disproportionate to anything that was being said or done to me. And I was aware that this was not normal. My reactions and my responses felt disproportionate, and I was also starting to have some changes to my cycle. I had always been pretty regular, and I think I started having my period, like every three weeks. It's probably enough when you have once a month...I knew the power of hormones and it drove me to kind of research and investigate what's going on with me.
I think as a true Gen X I went to Google, and I think it was maybe after four months of putting in a distinct symptom or condition that I had experienced that I began to step back and question, is this perimenopause? Are these things related versus the series of anomalies in terms of my health that I've never experienced before?
My research led me to "it was likely perimenopause" and that many of the things that I was experiencing seem to correlate with that.
Q: What prompted you to create @menopause_made_modern?
KW: As I'm learning more and more about this [menopause], half the global population will experience this biological phenomenon. Why don't more people look like me? Why can't I find stories of women of color? Oftentimes we go looking for information and resources to validate our own experience. And so as a black woman, a single black working mother, in my mid 40s, I was looking for other like stories, how are other women like me navigating this because it felt very alone and isolating.
I'm a communication generalist by trade and so storytelling is my background. I didn't really set out to do anything. I just felt like I was experiencing these things and I wanted to share it with other people.
And there is so much mystery, stigma, a lot that's not understood around menopause I thought why? How can we explore this through the power of storytelling? How could could we potentially de-stigmatize this by featuring the stories of women who challenge the stereotype or the perception of what menopause is?
Q: What was your approach when it came to finding menopause solutions that worked for you?
KW: I set out really just kind of wanting to understand what was happening to my body and was it so severe or life impacting that it required, medical or allopathic intervention or were there lifestyle changes that could mitigate some of this. It's been an interesting learning journey, always without a lens of judgment because every individual's experience is unique.
I have been able to manage [symptoms] through some lifestyle changes, less sugar in my diet, that's one of the biggest challenges and it's a daily challenge, admittedly. But without a doubt when I consume less sugar in my day I sleep better, I have a more restful sleep, and I have fewer night sweats. Same with alcohol, I like to have a shot of tequila a couple times a week. Noticeably, when I do, I have night sweats. So it was important for me to also be in tune with my body. As I am going through my own experience I wanted to better understand and take more personal accountability for what I was putting into my body and how I was moving my body or not, to make sure that I was doing what I could do through natural means without medical intervention. And if that didn't work, to still always be open to medical intervention.
And I'm also trying to normalize this notion of both, these are not mutually exclusive things. You can prescribe to hormone therapy, and make improvements to your diet and lifestyle, all for the benefit of your improved well being.
Q: What was the biggest life lesson or "ah-ha" moment that you have had during this time?
KW: That I am my own best advocate, champion, and steward of wellbeing. It is up to me, and that doesn't mean that I don't need help. It means that I know when to ask for help, how to ask for help, and where to ask for help when I need it.
Follow @menopause_made_modern for menopause information and resources.
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