This autumn I’ve been published in two anthologies: What is Normal? Psychotherapists Explore the Question and Still Hot! 42 Brilliantly Honest Menopause Stories.
What is Normal? Psychotherapists Explore the Question
Confer is a psychotherapy training and CPD organisation that also publishes books. In 2018 their 20th anniversary conference explored the meaning of ‘Normal’. And now there is a book. A number of well-known psychotherapists are published here, including Isha McKenzie-Mavinga, Foluke Taylor and Bret Kahr, exploring what ‘normal’ means for them as practitioners.
It’s fair to say that in life, as well as in psychotherapy, much is normalised that should not be. There is an overwhelming societal drive to blame the individual for systemic failings. Individuals therefore feel that they have ‘failed’ because they are struggling against forces that are bigger than all of us. Hence, for example, the rise of the wellness industry and what is known as ‘McMindfulness’.
Closer to home, psychotherapy trainings in the main still treat diversity and inclusion as bolt-ons rather than systemic ground-up necessities. Whether someone is LGBTQIA+, brown or black, disabled, working class, kinky, a sex worker, consensually non-monogamous, traumatised or neurodivergent (to name only a selection), it is seemingly up to those of us in those groups to adapt to the system. The system finds it very hard to adapt to us, preferring to reframe in terms of pathology.
There is so much to think about here, and so much important that needs saying.
Still Hot! 42 Brilliantly Honest Menopause Stories
Still Hot! was put together by Kaye Adams of Loose Women and journalist and author Vicky Allan. They interviewed 42 people about their experiences of menopause. A number of the participants are well known, such as Susie Orbach and Lorraine Kelly. There is an interview with the non-binary actor Bunny Cook, who took part in the Holland & Barratt Me-No-Pause campaign.
Still Hot! has a mainstream focus. I took part because I wanted to raise the profile of queer approaches to menopause, and because we always, always need more testimony! And the truth is, no one, LGBTQIA+ or not, is well-served at the moment. The more we normalise public awareness, the more menopause will be understood. One of the barriers to understanding is ageism – systemic and internalised. The more people learn that perimenopause (the initial phase of menopause) can start in your 30s, for example, the more we may start to dismantle the idea that it only happens to ‘older folks’.
Books like this are a very welcome addition to the public conversation.
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