Wednesday Bubble: Timeout

Posted by on Oct 19, 2011 in aging, menopause, stress | 8 comments

Back in 2009 I posted a story about a woman’s death being blamed on menopause. It seems especially poignant a day after World Menopause Day, a day unlike any others, when we put down our prejudices and celebrate everything menopause.

As my grandmother would say “oy vey.”

How about we focus on how, as women, we are constantly manipulated by ‘disinterested’ parties? How about we call “timeout?”


A bit of context…

In 2009, the BBC ran a story about a woman who committed suicide. The headline read:

“Woman’s Death Blamed on Menopause.”

“A woman who refused to take hormone replacement therapy died while suffering a menopausal episode, an inquest had heard. Margaret Drew…was killed when she walked out of her family home on to a nearby railway line and was hit by a train…There is no trigger to this at all, except hormones making her do things that she normally wouldn’t do, Dr. Carlyon [Cornwall Coroner) concluded…”

Menopause. The silent killer. Oh really?  Drew’s husband claims that his wife was “delightful, lovely and friendly” 99% of the time; the other 1% she’d become “totally irrational.” Yet, she refused to try HRT, he says. On the day of her suicide, he said that his wife was “clearly angry about something.”


Obviously, the conclusion is that that the “something” is hormones. This reminds me of vintage advertising copy that conveys the simple message that a pill a day can cure all that ails, wipe away the tears, mood swings and instability so that women can “transition without tears” (or better yet, without killing themselves).

Notably, a search in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database turned up only one recent study specifically dealing with suicide ideation across reproductive stages. In it, researchers compared data in 8,794 women, and found an increased risk of thinking about suicide among women during perimenopause, not before or after entering menopause. These findings remained after controlling for risk factors such as anxiety and mood disorders. HOWEVER, the researchers noted that the study design did not allow them to form any definitive conclusions about the specific reasons for thinking about suicide.

Another search yielded information that the risk for a major depression increases during perimenopause, primarily as the direct result of vasomotor symptoms. The same does not hold true for women before menopause begins or once they enter menopause. Note that while major depression is a risk factor for suicide, not everyone who is depressed will actually kill themselves.

Are hormonal fluctuations the sole cause of such deep unhappiness that women want to kill themselves? Or their careers?

Let’s look at a more recent story that appeared this week in the Denver Post.

“Former Elbert County assessor blames menopause medications for crimes, is sentenced to 60 days in jail, fined $10,000”

“Elbert County Judge Jeffrey Holmes might have thrown the book at former county assessor P.J. Trostel just for her management skills alone. Instead, he sentenced Trostel today to 60 days in county jail, three years of probation and 200 hours of community service on two felony counts…In asking for leniency, Trostel and her lawyer said a variety of factors led her to make bad decisions. Those included depression, symptoms from menopause, medications and stress from family and work. “Some of the things I don’t even have an answer,” Trostel said. “I know I made terrible judgments and decisions.”

It sounds as though Trostel would have done better with different legal representation. And a sounder argument.

And while Trostel is chewing on that concept for the next six years while incarcerated, perhaps we can start to change the paradigm and focus on the ills of the Menopause Industrial Complex, disinterested parties who perpetuate societal myths that menopause is a disease that requires treatment and that as women, our attitudes, belief systems and actions are hormonally-based and driven. That we are hysterical beings who need guidance on how to find our way and fulfill our dreams, realize our paths, but only if we calm down. That we can’t hold a job down, keep a marriage intact or play nicely with others. That we need a timeout (this would entail a long, long time, by the way).

Seriously though, a timeout from the hype would be a welcome addition to the change, don’t you think?






  1. 10-19-2011

    Great read. It reminds me how brain-washed we are even in the information age.
    Hope folks take time to read this.

    • 10-19-2011

      Thanks kindly Todd. Every now and then I slip in the message that the medium ain’t.

  2. 10-19-2011

    Good stuff Liz!! And to Todd’s point- let’s not forget that the word “hysteria” comes from the Greek for “womb”…You know how crazy us girls can get. Thank you for writing this.

    • 10-19-2011

      Ha ha Abby. Love that! And thanks for tipping my hat to this story. Great fodder comes from great minds!

  3. 10-19-2011

    Ah, that which cannot be understood must be medicated away or declared insane! Thank goodness our male companions never had to deal with monthly cycles and mood swings.

    Great article, Liz. I’m on the cusp of the HRT decision and don’t really want to go that route, but I think I’ll stay off the tracks!

    • 10-19-2011

      I love that Beth! Thanks for the smile. According to British researchers, men do experience menopause (never mind the misnomer) aka andropause. Look into the archives for the hype – mood swings galore.

  4. 10-21-2011

    Good god, I somehow missed these articles on all these insane, hormonal women!! 😉 Great piece Liz, right on the money. And to think it’s 2011. :\
    Cheers, Lindsay

    • 10-21-2011

      Thanks Lindsay for dropping by. Yeah, insanity rules on these pages, but not cause of hormones! Cheers.

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