I had the joy of speaking with Lizzie Smith, who is a classical homeopath with twenty years of practice. Having gone through the perimenopause herself she has a special interest in this cycle of a woman’s life and has supported many female clients through the process. Lizzie’s passion is to see the cycle as a rite of passage and to find a way to bring forth the grace and gifts of this transition from fertility to wisdom.
When assisting a woman in perimenopause Lizzie starts by viewing her client as a whole person rather than just looking at and the treating symptoms. She will take a full medical history, and ask about family, culture, foods, dreams and feelings. She will then do a homeopathic analysis and find one single remedy for her client to take.
The aim of treatment is not just to shift a few symptoms but instead to find a bit more overall balance and harmony, and Lizzie says that this could often involve a change in perspective. She says “It might be about dropping negative associations and embracing perimenopause as a rite of passage that it truly is”. The successful outcome would be to feel more able to listen and respond to the body more deeply, with self-care and understanding. For example Lizzie suggests that a hot flush is a good time to sit down and keep a little notebook or journal and record what one might be feeling. She suggests that it might be viewed as a power surge which can be quite cleansing. This change in perspective is about not resisting this important time of life but instead going with it and exploring the hidden gifts.
Lizzies understanding of the perimenopause is that it is a time of life review, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this, however It can be a very difficult time for a lot of people on a psychological level, when old traumas rise up to the surface for clearing and resolution. This is after all a natural cycle of letting go and resetting but so many of us are up against this age old female behaviour pattern of putting everyone else’s needs and demands first, and that doesn’t leave much space for a life review!
Lizzie sees the perimenopause as THE time to turn that round and actually start taking the necessary time to look after oneself, and actually listen to one’s own needs (rather than say you want to then just plough on like an unstoppable train) and take a look within. Lizzie says that similar to the time of adolescence, the brain is growing new neural pathways during perimenopause and this often leads to a woman feeling the need to redefine her sense of self in a similar way to the emergence of adulthood that occurs during adolescence. Could it be that perimenopause is the emergence of a new era of second adulthood? Is this a time when we might need a greater sense of renewal other than just a new pair of shoes?
After talking with Lizzie I looked within and I’m not going to lie, I felt very empty, in fact I felt so empty that I couldn’t really define my edges. Where had all my certainty and solid sense of self gone to? Almost in the same way I couldn’t count on my period turning up in tune with the 28 day lunar cycle, I’m not even sure I can appear in that reliable way anymore.
Reassuringly for me, many of Lizzies clients have also needed to go through a period of grieving as they let go of their losses, such as grieving a missed career opportunity, lack of children, divorce or actual loss of a loved one. Lizzie says that she often hears the story of losing one’s way, of falling apart, of having no direction and feeling very distressed.
Whilst good old fashioned support consisting of a good friend and a cup of tea (you can forget the coffee!) can do wonders for the heart and soul, Lizzie has seen how homeopathic remedies can help an individual process through all the stages of this rite of passage. Being more at peace within and in acceptance of the experiences that menopause brings, such as pausing to tune in, embracing the power surges when they come, and allowing the storm to guide towards new experiences.
The thing that Lizzie recommended that really struck a chord for me was to make a special altar space at home, and honour the cycles of nature here. This involves collecting any images, objects or special words that remind us to focus on the bigger picture. The cycles of birth, youth, fertility, age, death and rebirth occur all the time in the natural world around us and these symbols can remind us of perimenopause as a natural event. Lizzie suggests tuning into the cycles of the moon throughout the month, especially when your own monthly cycle might be irregular. She describes this as a way to stay connected to a rhythm even when things are unfamiliar and may feel chaotic. Note to self – don’t throw the flowers out when they are dead because from a different perspective you’ve got pot pourri.
“Perimenopause is a bridge to new life, it’s about remembering who we are in our very essence. I see perimenopause not only as a very physical experience but also a spiritual one, a soul event that needs tending accordingly, its symptoms as symbols of a new life to come” Lizzie Smith
Support & Resources
www.menopausematters.co.uk Dr Heather Currie, a specialist Gynaecologist and Obstetrician founded this website - it’s an information source for any woman with questions such as - what are the symptoms of menopause, am I in menopause yet, and most importantly what can I do to help myself?
Lizzie Smith - For more about Homeopathy visit www.remedycentre.org
Lizzie’s Top Homeopathic Remedies for Perimenopause
Lachesis – Always hot, cannot stand any pressure or constriction especially around the neck, so no polo necks, necklaces, bras. Very talkative, sometimes suspicious, jealous. May have an alcohol craving. Palpitations, high blood pressure, intensive hot flushes with purple face and neck, left-sided throbbing headache. Severe PMS relieved immediately by the onset of bleeding.
Sepia - Women who feel worn-out and irritable. Chilly. Hot flushes from abdomen upwards to the face with profuse sweating and pale face. Feeling of dragging heaviness in the pelvic area. Heavy periods followed by weakness. Tendency to prolapse of genital, digestive or urinary organs. Feeling of disinterest in their family, lack of sex drive, loss of interest in daily life. Physical exercises make them feel emotionally and physically better.
Severe headaches during perimenopause characterized by right-sided neck pain, which extends to the right shoulder. Women who feel trapped and disappointed with their lives. May express a feeling of being surrounded by dark clouds or constrained in a cage of wires.
Sinking feeling at the stomach, Irritability, restlessness, the woman may feel unhappy, sad and grieved. Nervous conditions, when there is “great nervous tension and unrest with a propensity to work and worry over little things.”
Gentle, mild disposition. Emotional and easily moved to laughter or tears. Moods are changeable, can cry at every little thing and loves to be comforted. Can also be easily irritated and has a tendency to feel slighted, or be fearful of being slighted. In general, feels better in the fresh air and feels worse in a warm, stuffy room and in the evenings.
Physical problems include irregular menstruation, whether it is too early or too late, too scanty or too profuse. The menses can be painful enough to cause nausea or vomiting, and bending double can help the pains. Unusually, the bleeding can happen during the day only. Can have difficulty sleeping because of hot flushes and anxious thoughts, and legs can be very restless at night.
In part three i'll be talking to Holistic therapist Alice Coningham and Naturopath Carol Hannington about therapies, foods and remedies that can aid in the pursuit of balance during perimenopause.