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What Happens When Women Speak Up

I recently watched the latest Davina McCall documentary- her second one talking about her experience with menopause. Whilst this post isn’t necessarily all about menopause, the impact that it has on women is something that we all need to pay attention to and talk about.
 
I was menopausal at the age of 33 with an endometrial embolization and found out at age 41 that I probably should have been on HRT at 33. I knew I had all of the symptoms and had been seeing the doctors over and over again and repeatedly told ‘you’re too young’.
 
After the first Davina documentary I found a private GP and paid thousands of pounds for lots of different tests and the only test that wasn’t done was the one for menopause, again because I was still deemed to be too young. Through a conversation with friends of mine, I was introduced to an organisation called Newson Health that is run by Doctor Louise Newson. I had 1 consultation with one of her doctors and was immediately put onto HRT in November 2021.
 
Now in June 2022, I feel like a completely different person.
 
Having watched this 2nd Davina documentary I have cried!
 
I have cried angry tears that it took me 8 years to get that diagnosis and prescribed HRT.
I have cried angry tears that discrimination against women is growing and some women are losing their jobs and being sacked because of the menopause.
I have cried angry tears that so many women feel or are made to feel shame.
I have cried angry tears about how women are left feeling, sad, alone and lost.
I have cried grateful tears that I’m not one of the women impacted by the HRT shortage.
I have cried grateful tears that there is FINALLY research being carried out to improve the quality of women's lives.
I have cried happy tears that so many women are supporting other women.
I have cried sad tears that so many women have their lives impacted by menopause and that so many struggle to get the help and support they need.
I have cried sad tears that menopause is causing women to want to end their own lives.
I have cried really, really ugly tears when faced with some of the statistics that this documentary has highlighted.
 
44% of women say that the menopause affects their job.
52% say menopause has caused a loss of confidence.
61% of women say they have lost their motivation as the result of menopause.
14% of women have said they have had to reduce their working hours as a result of menopause.
8 out of 10 women are having difficulty sleeping.
7 out of 10 women are suffering from anxiety or depression.
7 out of 10 women are suffering from brain fog.
84% of women said they have nobody to turn to in the workplace and ask for help.
1 out of 10 women have quit their jobs due to menopause. This is women at the top of their game and had to quit due to shame, discrimination and been paid off to leave.
 
Now I’m not a menopause expert and I will never pretend to be, but as part of the work I do, I help women with their confidence, their motivation, creating balance, creating boundaries, help them with sleep and self care, as well as helping them to reduce anxiety and depression. I work with women of all ages and currently my clients are aged between 30 to 60+, all successful, awesome women. They all know they are capable of more, and yet some have started working with me because they feel lost, loss of confidence, they’ve reached burnout and they don’t know where to turn or what to do next.
 
Stats tell us that organisations with greater gender equality in their top teams, outperform those that don’t by up to 25%. So obviously it makes business sense to have gender equality, forget the moral and ethical sense for a moment; it makes business sense for organisations to have women in their top teams. But if we’re seeing 1 in 10 women leaving their jobs because of menopause and 1 in 3 women leaving their jobs because of burnout, how do we get to a point of having greater gender equality in top teams?
 
Unless of course you're building your own company and empire; I’m struggling to see how we make the numbers stack up.
 
So what happens when women actually speak up?
 
Davina McCall said at the start of her documentary that she had no idea the impact that the first documentary would have and the ripples that would be created. She thought it would raise a bit of awareness and something to talk about on her social media, but she had no idea that it would speak to so many women and so many women could relate. Women started to realise, yes I should be being supported, I should be being heard, I should be getting the help I need. I deserve to be on the right medication and get the right diagnosis.
Davina of course is a celebrity and has a huge following, but that is one woman who chose to speak up.
 
How many women are suffering in silence?
 
Over the last few weeks I have been working with some new clients and some of them have been suffering for up to 2 years. They have said they have been following me for such a long time, and they started to hit burnout in 2019, 2020 and it’s only now they have asked for help as they have hit rock bottom and don’t know where else to go.
 
In many ways I’m extremely grateful that they have said now is the time for help, and I’m grateful it is me they have chosen to work with, but I also get that gut wrenching feeling thinking about them suffering inside for so long.
 
What is the ripple effect that women can create when we speak up? When we ask for the help we need. When we say ‘I cannot do this anymore’
 
None of us should be suffering in silence, we shouldn’t be feeling shame, guilt or embarrassment or feeling like we have failed when we get to the point of needing to ask for help.
 
Core-led women know who they are at the core and aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it. They know they don’t have to do it alone and in some instances they can’t do it alone. In understanding who we are at the core and remembering that helps us to set better boundaries and make time for ourselves, we bring in those experts, we bring in the support system, we create our own support circles, to help us stay lifted and core-led.
 
The first step is to acknowledge that you no longer want to carry on as things are and you want to make a change. The second step is to speak up, say you need help and get help. That brave first step can be life changing.
 
I’ve spoken about before about that day that I was consumed by suicidal thoughts and I knew right then that things had to change. I called my partner and told him to come home and that we needed to talk. Without that, I do not think I would still be here. That first brave step can be courageous, life changing, life saving, career changing and career saving.
 
It can change and save relationships.
It can change our work and transform our work.
It can change our world and save our world.
 
Something magical happens when women use their voices to speak up about an issue or speak up for other people.
 
When we speak up, it not only highlights the issue it also encourages others to speak up and say ‘I deserve better’.
 
Had Davina not made that first documentary, no doubt I would still be being ignored by doctors and not been put on HRT. Davina caused a ripple effect when she spoke up.
 
If you follow me on LinkedIn you will know and see that I don’t hold back, I’m very open, upfront and vocal about issues. It’s me being me! And because I speak up, I often get women messaging me thanking me and saying how what I said really resonated and asking if they can share their story with me.
 
I’m not causing ripple effects on a Davina sized scale, and with some of the changes you are making, you also may not be doing it on the same scale, but the key is that we find our voices, we use our voices, we talk about what we are passionate about, we talk about what needs to change, we share our own experiences, then we create our own ripple effects for women and other people around us.
 
Sometimes we think because we aren’t getting the instant recognition, the rewards, the clients, the promotions, the pats on the back; that what we are doing is going unnoticed. Then we start to do less of it and think, well what’s the point? But it’s at those points where we need to keep going regardless of the tumbleweed and silent moments, because believe me, people are noticing and we can still create those ripples.
 
If we start to go quiet, others around us will also start to go quiet too.
 
If you have something you feel you need to share, share it and speak up, because we have no idea the power in our voice and what changes that can make to us and other women.
 
When we are using our core-led voices and speaking up as core-led women, we create ripples that will not only change the world of work, but the world.
 
Use your voice.
Speak up.
Be seen.
Be heard.
Be visible.
 
Kelly
 
In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family. Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful. Today at kellyswingler.com, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.
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