A woman suffering from anxiety as a result of perimenopause has said you need to identify the problem to “tame it”.
Donegal-based writer Kathy Donaghy travelled around the world as part of her career when she was young, going from Africa to the US to nearly every country in Europe.
She couldn’t understand why, at the age of 50, she was terrified to take a two-day work trip to London.
“I don’t know why but it just sent me into a tailspin of 'What am I going to do, who am I going to know, how can I navigate the city’,” she told Lunchtime Live.
“I've been to London many times... all of a sudden, all these feelings became overwhelming.
“It was too much - ‘This could happen, that could happen, are the kids going to be okay?’.”
Perimenopause and anxiety
Ms Donaghy said she had almost decided it would be “easier” to not take the trip at all, until she told her husband how she felt, and he encouraged her to understand her feelings deeper.
“I hadn’t really linked how I was feeling to this time in my life, but I'm at the stage in life where I’m experiencing perimenopause,” she said.
“Weirdly, I hadn’t made this link between what I was feeling about the trip and what was going on hormonally at this stage of life.”
It was something she saw other friends go through, but was unable to “join the dots” until others, such as her husband and a doctor, explained the link between perimenopause and anxiety.
As a woman’s estrogen production fluctuates before they enter complete menopause, they can often feel nervous, irritable, restless.
Perimenopausal women also find trouble falling asleep and sweating more than usual.
'A different lifetime and woman ago'
Ms Donaghy said she realised she had developed a pattern of anxiety around travelling, despite her experiences in her younger years.
“I’ve been to warzones,” she said.
“Those trips feel like a different lifetime ago and a different woman ago.
“They were pre-children – life took on a different rhythm and I kept working but I drew a line under big trips.”
Still, Ms Donaghy doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life too afraid to travel when she gets the chance.
'If you name it, you tame it'
Ms Donaghy said the best way to deal with her newfound anxiety was to “pay attention” to her feelings and what they mean.
“It's about remembering these are just thoughts and they're not real,” she said.
“When you’re in the throes of anxiety, it feels really real, but just pay attention and know what might be happening to you and talk to your friends about it.
“When you name it, you tame it - when I was planning my trip, I was very conscious of what I can control.
“I planned some fun for myself, like go and visit Shakespeare's Globe.”
It can also be appropriate to go to a professional health expert if your symptoms are worse.
“Talking to your GP or an expert can give you the keys to unlock all of it,” Ms Donaghy said.