Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Sophie Wessex left to ‘pick up the pieces’ after feeling like ‘someone had taken my brain’

Sophie Wessex: Nobody talks about periods or menopause

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Prince Edward’s wife has taken on a new patronage, a women’s health charity called Wellbeing of Women. She is tackling the stigma around issues of menstruation and the menopause by opening up about her own experiences. During a video chat with Sarah Jane Cale, founder of the Positive Menopause website, she described her experience of a mind blank while going through the change.

She said: “You know in the middle of a presentation when you suddenly can’t remember what you were talking about, being on an engagement when that happens ‒ your words just go.

“And you’re standing there and going, ‘Hang on, I thought I was a reasonably intelligent person, what has just happened to me?’

“It’s like someone’s just gone and taken your brain out for however long before they pop it back in again and you try and pick up the pieces and carry on.”

Sophie, 56, said she has experienced hot flushes, memory loss and brain fog, all symptoms of the menopause.

She also highlighted the importance of making sure women feel valued and supported when going through these changes.

She said: “Really we should be celebrating the fact that we don’t have periods anymore ‒ it should be a liberation, but it feels like a shackle.

“It’s described as something incredibly negative.

“Yes, it’s an admittance of the fact that we’re getting older, we’re not as young as we were before, we’re being, you know, to use the word ‘productive’, we are past that stage, and it’s quite a moment to admit it.”

The Countess has been praised for speaking about a “taboo” topic and is thought to be the first member of the Royal Family to discuss their own experiences of this issue in public.

Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter wrote on Twitter: “Fantastic to see Sophie shining a light on another of life’s taboo topics.”

Pod Save the Queen is hosted by Ann Gripper and features Daily Mirror royal editor Russell Myers.

The pair also talked about the great work Sophie is doing, which they said was “very, very well received”.

Mr Myers said Sophie is a popular member of the Royal Family, who speaks very eloquently and should get more recognition for the work she does.

However, he added that this particular issue has now got “fantastic coverage”, bringing up issues like periods, the menopause and the generational change around how women are brought up.

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He said: “She was talking about how it’s time to break down the barriers of any potential embarrassment in society that young women may be feeling about these issues.

“And not only young women coming into adulthood, but certainly issues around the menopause and how employers can be more inclusive and help women through it and it was a really, really important conversation that got a lot of people talking.”

Reflecting on Sophie’s anecdote about experiencing mind blanks during royal engagements, Mr Myers said it seems “unfair” that men or employers are not more aware of these symptoms and that women of a certain age may be experiencing this in the workplace.

He said: “She said hot flushes and the like, it should be just known.

Sophie Wessex joins Wellbeing of Women campaign

“And, again, if you saw a woman with a fan on in the middle of winter in the office you’d think, ‘Gosh, what’s wrong with her?’

“And that’s what she was saying ‒ that men or employers should not be questioning that, they should just accept that that is because she is a woman of a certain age, she’s going through the change, and it will just become part of the normal conversation.”

He argued that it could follow in the same vein as the conversations around mental health and childcare, which people are becoming more open about.

Ms Gripper drew parallels between Sophie’s work here breaking down these taboos and the work other royals have done on mental health, like Prince William, Prince Harry and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

Sophie received a flurry of positive comments on social media for talking about this “hidden subject”.

Hello! royal editor Emily Nash said: “It’s brilliant to see the Countess of Wessex speaking so frankly about the menopause.”

Another Twitter user added: “Hope this raises the profile of this important issue.”

A third simply said: “She’s fabulous!”

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