Hella was a Biology teacher for around 30 years till midlife challenges hit her with their full force. At the age of 47, Hella Willimsky separated from her husband when their children were merely 15 and 13 years old. Her son had a serious accident and was in the hospital while her daughter was on a student exchange for a year in Australia. The financial crunch hit her badly and she was forced to sell her house and find new accommodation. A so-called 'family home' felts as a pile of broken glasses.
It took an arduous couple of years for Hella to stabilize. She was once again back with her children in a new apartment. But, the good times did not last long and Hella faced an onset of severe menopausal symptoms followed by extreme hot flashes with recurring episodes of insomnia, mood swings, and fatigue.
Menopause and Workplace
Menopause is slowly crawling to the forefront of researchers lately. Subsequently, we are taking the first steps to spread awareness of menopause, especially in workplaces. Women who are affected with severe menopausal symptoms are eight times more likely to report lower ability to work compared with age-matched other women with no such severe symptoms. Moreover, many oseterics women face workplace challenges in discussing their menopause-related health challenges with their line managers.
The biggest challenge is the acceptance of menopause itself. Many women are not aware of the emotional impact associated with hot flashes and treat menopause as just another natural transition. But it is not always the case.
Many women are not aware of emotional impact associated with hot flashes and may assume that menopause is just another natural transition. But it is not always the case.
Hella had decided that she would take menopause as a natural change and promised herself not to make a drama of it. Ignore it till it goes away on its own. She continued with her job without any intervention or support. Two years went on. The fatigue due to lack of sleep and recurrent hot flashes meant long hours at work to cope up with the same quota. During the same time, both the children moved out to study. Hella slowly lost her appetite and also her weight. She started believing that she might be suffering from a serious illness but nothing was found. Instead, Hella was told that she is suffering from burnout.
"It was a difficult step to acknowledge and accept that I was suffering . I realized that I needed help"
Therapy and Regaining Your Strength
Willimsky sought professional help. It takes a lot of courage to seek outside help. Hella was able to identify harmful patterns that were adversely affecting her mentally & emotionally. Hella says - "The most important harmful patterns go back well into childhood and can only be recognized with outside help". Therapy taught her to develop an awareness of her needs and to take them seriously. She realized that she was previously making too high demands of herself.
"I have learned to accept and love myself for who I am. Since then, my body and I have become one, and when my body tells me that it is not doing well, I take care of myself. It was a mistake to ignore my complaints and I can recommend to any woman with menopausal symptoms to take care of herself, find ways to make her feel better. Which these are is probably different for every woman", says Hella.
"It was a mistake to ignore my complaints and I can recommend to any woman with menopausal symptoms to take care of yourself, find ways to make you feel better. Which is probably different for every woman"
There are enough evidence that prove that outside professional help can be life-changing. If one can find the strength to seek help, then one can perhaps build strength to turn their life around as well.
The New 50s and Dating in Midlife.
Hella worked hard on her inner-self and started to explore newer things in life. Slowly her drive of enjoying life was back again. She became more aware of herself and the changes she brought enriched her even more. It was during this period she stopped coloring her hair embracing the real her. Everyone started to notice her transformation. She was happier, healthy, and confident.
As Hella entered into 60s, she realized that her job was demanding too much time and mental effort. This hardly left space for her to explore life outside. But soon she was approached to model as a bestager. Perhaps it was the various interventions and changes she had been working on that caused it.
"I had never thought of modeling before, but the time was ripe for a new path".
Hella left her job as a teacher and since then has been working as a model. The new job helps her to gain better experiences and meet new people all the time. Hella really enjoys the work.
She also explored dating in midlife. Her experience of dating in the 50s has been very positive. "We live in a society that I feel is very tolerant of age. Today, bestagers, in particular, are allowed to live their selves like never before. I don't feel socially restricted because of my age." says Hella.
Dating though is not as easy as it was at a young age. Hella accepts that most of the men she has now dated have similar solid character and cemented ideas of life similar to hers stemming out of their individual life experiences. " The challenge here is to build a bridge which can be very very difficult".
"Dating in the 50s is no longer as easy as it was at a young age, because everyone has had their own experiences, has a solid character and firm ideas about life and partnership. The challenge is to build a bridge here,which can be very, very difficult"
Fashion, Diet and Dating.
Hella as a bestager doesn't follow every fashion trend. "Rather than me chasing the fashion, I want fashion to serve me, that I can feel comfortable in clothes and that is an expression of my personality".
Regarding diet as well, Hella tries to keep it simple. "I believe that people have a comfortable weight that comes with a healthy diet. And if I've ever lived too unhealthily, I gently steer against it until I feel good again. Reduction diets are pointless and harmful in my opinion. I think a healthy diet is very important, if you live it you don't need a different diet" says Hella.
For her it is important to be gentle with yourself, no tormenting rituals that live out of a misunderstood idea of beauty. No beauty can arise under agony, because beauty comes from within, it is the joy of life that makes us shine.
"No beauty can arise under agony, because beauty comes from within, it is the joy of life that makes us shine"