Posted in Did you know?

Menopause or Hysteria?

when_helping_hurtsOnce upon a time there was a woman who was challenged…for the umpteenth time by “the man”.  He told her in no uncertain terms, “It’s my way or the highway.”  And this time she did not cry.  This time she did not plead.  This time she did not acquiesce as she always did…for decades.  This time she replied, “I’ll take the highway,” calmly and that was that!

Was this considered to be a surprise?  Not for her because she had lived and relived similar scenes for longer than she cared to remember.  But it was a shock to her family, her children, her friends and her colleagues and believe it or not the most surprised was “the man”.

Since she was about the average age many women go through menopause, the labels…the stigma mushroomed rapidly on why the woman was “taking the highway”.   The man reasoned this way to prove the woman’s “irrational” behaviour.

“She must be going through menopause!”  “Oh, she is experiencing hysteria” “Oh she is not thinking straight” and the list went on.   This way of “branding” a person for taking certain decisions was not helpful.  The woman was sometimes misjudged by her children. The woman felt denigrated and mostly she felt misunderstood.

Fortunately, this woman had many female friends who were supportive. There is a point to this little story…I’m just getting on my soap box. {clears throat}

How many times do we hear such comments?  A teenager or young adult who gets in an argument with his mom and the stigma continues.

A middle aged woman in the workplace gets upset with her boss for keeping her from going home on time for the 10th time in one month, so she  finally says, “No, I can’t stay.  You should have been better organized.”  And her boss may think, “Wow, she used to be so more accommodating before…guess she is getting too old…not able to handle the stress of this job anymore.”

A young man asks his mom for her car keys because he is going out on a hot date. She had already planned to meet a friend across town and says, “Gee, sorry, I already have plans and  but I could drop you off somewhere if you like.”  The man flips and says she is being so selfish…he can’t get over how she is being so unreasonable in her “old age”, “It must be menopause.”

A young mom asks her mother to babysit and mom says, she can’t that evening.  Her daughter, asks what is so important that she can’t babysit her own grandchild?  Mom starts feeling guilty and wonders if she should cancel her outing that has been planned.  She finally decides that she will go for her engagement and not babysit her grandchild.  Her daughter is upset because she could always depend on her mom before and so thinks, “It must be her menopause that is making her so uncooperative.”

Any of this sound familiar?  Well, menopause may be affecting many facets of a woman’s life…may be disturbing sleep, moods, forgetfulness among other symptoms.  However, when a woman asserts herself, when a woman is tired and sometimes has to refuse the extra hours her employer is expecting from her, when a woman tells her adult children she is a not always available…she does, after all, have a life (hopefully) outside of her children…it is NOT always due to menopause.

There are also the sexist remarks and insinuations that hide behind some of those menopausal references.  Watch out for those!

It is not much different than someone telling a girl that she must be  “PMSing” if she is in a bad mood. Again blaming hormones whenever a girl/woman asserts herself or gets upset.  I am not saying hormones do not impact on our moods.  But lack of sleep, stress, fed up of being exploited, personal problems, family problems, school, work etc. also IMPACT on moods and behaviours.


Either way, I felt a need to just share this type of misconception…misjudging…and the stigma that goes along  with the word “menopause”.   No wonder so many women refuse to talk about it in public…in the workplace. It is NOT hysteria.  It is simply the natural termination of a woman’s menstruation and fertility.

So, hopefully people will think twice before making inappropriate judgments and comments about women over 35 years old.

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts



A little bit about moi: I am a mom, a nana, a sister, a woman, a friend, a human being…a youth counsellor, Family Life Educator. I have been working in the helping profession for over 25 years and volunteered in various capacities from youths to seniors. Tournesol is my nom de plume for haiku and other Japanese form poetry here at Tournesoldansunjardin I hope you enjoy reading through my daily waka. I also have another blog "Stop the Stigma" where I may stand on my soapbox now and then and hope it will become a place to drop in and share or comment on issues important to you. In that vein this could be a great way to learn from each other. Namaste!

2 thoughts on “Menopause or Hysteria?

  1. Hysteria in menopause is not a myth, though I applaud your position about a stigma! For thirteen years already I was howling in hysteria of pain, into seizures and gasps, from a sane pediatrician. Excruciating headaches, vomiting, cramps, gripes, and spasms, over morbid acute obesity made me bed-ridden. I am much improved now-
    Maria Jasmine Freeman


    1. Thank you for your comments. I sympathize with your difficult passage through menopause; this post was actually about the stigma given to women who assert themselves…younger women and teens are told they must be going through PMS if they speak out or get angry. Many women wait until the children are older to take a stand and that just happens to be in the years many are going through menopause. Hysteria was a term overused as well (thanks to S. Freud) when women disclosed incest from their childhood. But that is a whole other topic many have written upon and that we can find on-line as well.


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