Oscar-nominated actress Naomi Watts began experiencing signs of perimenopause when she was just 36 years old.
“First of all, I will say that I had two children naturally,” Watts told an audience gathered to hear him speak at a panel at South by Southwest Sydney (SXSW).
“As soon as I had my second child, I experienced severe symptoms,” Watts said.
She experienced shame, panic and loneliness and, as a Hollywood actress, faced the real prospect that what she was going through would impact her career.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m done,’” she said.
“‘I’m not sexy anymore. I work in Hollywood.
“And if you’re not fertile, you’re inf***able.”
Watts said an agent told her a long time ago that she had to “work, work, work” because she only had until age 40 to “play a leading lady.”
The SXSW panel on menopause and midlife as a springboard for reinvention was moderated Tuesday by Mamamia co-founder Mia Freedman.
It also featured screenwriter and former Dolly model Alison Brahe Daddo and Dr. Ginni Mansberg, medical director of the organization Don’t Sweat It, whose goal is to make workplaces peri-friendly and menopause.
Navigating a New Relationship…and Menopause
Watts, 55, married Morning Wars actor Billy Crudup earlier this year and said they were dating at a time when she was experiencing a lot of discomfort.
“I will exercise caution here to protect the privacy of my relationship,” Watts said.
“But I must say that it was a very delicate period.
“I didn’t know how disgusted he would be. And at the thought of exposing such personal things that I knew I was ashamed of, how would he feel?”
She said that ultimately keeping secrets is too exhausting and that communication is key.
She chose to settle there and make it her own.
“It’s hard to hide a stain,” she said.
“It’s hard to hide your moods. It’s hard to show yourself like you can in your 20s or 30s.”
She decided that menopause would be a great litmus test and was very honest with him and he responded with empathy, kindness and “a few jokes.”
“He knew how to behave. He just knew how to be gentle and show up.
“And obviously he passed the litmus test, and now we’re married.”
What is menopause?
- Menopause is only one day
- This day corresponds to 12 months since your last menstruation
- Most women become menopausal between the ages of 45 and 60.
- This marks the end of the reproductive phase of life
- Symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, muscle and joint pain, and tender breasts.
- There may also be sleep disturbances
- The combination of these symptoms can cause anxiety or depression
- Perimenopause is the stage of life leading up to your last period. During perimenopause, your periods may become irregular and you may experience a range of other symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
- Postmenopause is the last stage of menopause. During postmenopause, some symptoms such as hot flashes usually become less of a concern or disappear completely.
- A woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis naturally increases after menopause
Sources: Health Direct, National Institute on Aging, Mayo Clinic
Crying, rage, anxiety “and then added a few teenagers”
Panel members described feelings of rage and anxiety during perimenopause and menopause, as well as insomnia and brain fog.
“Isn’t Mother Nature giving us teenagers at the worst time?” » asked Dr. Mansberg.
“And elderly parents too.”
Dr Mansberg said one in three women will experience anxiety and/or depression around this time.
“The period of peak vulnerability in a woman’s life is actually around perimenopause and the early postmenopausal years and it’s actually also the peak period for suicide…and divorce,” she said. declared.
Freedman asked the panel to consider their identity and self-image in a youth-obsessed culture, at a time when women also experience a sense of invisibility.
“I felt really embarrassed and ashamed of the way I had aged and I thought I was going to let people down somehow,” Ms Brahe Daddo said, saying she had to dig deeply to overcome these feelings and embrace this new stage of life.
Watts said it’s important to have these conversations.
“I’m encouraged that we’re normalizing this conversation among all of us,” she said.
“We will be the last generation to be ashamed of it.”
SXSW Sydney continues with a range of activities throughout the week.