Why HRT?

Women with hot flushes, anxiety and night sweats become desperate to do something about it, so they go to the doctor. Many GPs will recommend that they go on HRT. How wonderful, all the symptoms go and they feel like a human being again.

But what the doctors don’t always tell them is that when you come off HRT in your 50s, 60s, or even 70s, you will get all the symptoms of menopause back again. So now you’ve got much older and you are supposed to cope with the hot flushes, anxiety and night sweats. What’s the point of that?

Many older women who have been on HRT for 20 years (more than even the manufacturers now recommend)are struggling to come off it. People who do come off HRT after any amount of time often find that their symptoms are much much worse and they become depressed as well.

If they deal with menopause in the first place in a natural way – through nutrition (for example eating lots of soya), through appropriate supplements (especially made supplements for menopause) or with herbs such as Red Clover or Sage – they get it over with without too much pain and they never have to go through it again.

Interfering with nature can cause more problems that it’s worth. There is a very good reason for the menopause because your body is past its childbearing age. Why prolong the agony still having simulated periods when you can get through menopause and move on to the future without a monthly cycle or the pain of periods?

Stress – can you cope?

Life is stressful enough without banks collapsing, homes being repossessed and jobs being wiped out. When I was writing Stress – The Essential Guide I realised how often we make life for ourselves.

There are so many things in life that we cannot do anything about, such as divorce, bereavement, caring for someone who is seriously ill, losing your home, or even moving, changing jobs, or seeing the kids off to nursery or uni. These kind of stresses will always happen, as well as the niggling day to day ones like traffic jams and call centres.

But human beings seem to make life more difficult for themselves. For instance, sometimes people who are working long hours may be doing so because of their fear of failure or perfectionist tendencies.

When you are having a genuinely difficult time do you accept help from others, say no when you just can’t do any more, ensure that you still do everything in a set way (that could make life more stressful) or stick to fixed beliefs or judgements that are unhelpful?

By looking at your own behaviour and trying to let some of your habits go you can actually avoid making a bad situation worse.

There are plenty of other things that you can do including exercising, eating healthily, allowing yourself time and space alone, relaxation, and therapies like massage which are very relaxing.

It is too difficult to change your lifestyle when stress is at its worst. It is better to try to arm yourself against stress by taking up exercising, eating well and learning to relax when times are good. Otherwise you may find that drinking alcohol may become your only stress relief, and unfortunately that can make matters worse.

Stress – The Essential Guide costs £8.99 and is published by Need2Know, http://www.need2knowbooks.co.uk



Healing hands help victims of Bosnian war

Years after a war has finished most of the world has forgotten about the people whose lives were torn apart. I recently had the chance to go to Sarajevo with the charity, Healing Hands Network. From April to October each year they have four therapists in their centre in Sarajevo who provide massage and healing treatments for victims of the terrible war and atrocities.

People who have lost loved ones, whose limbs have been blown off, who have been tortured, raped and sexually abused still live with their pain – both emotional and physical. There is precious little help from the government and while psychological help is available, there is no NHS to fall back on.

Among the people I met were members of the Union of Civilian War Victims and The Association of Concentration Camp Victims. Many of them had endured multiple rape and sexual torture, others had had legs or arms blown off in bomb attacks or from shells or grenades. Others had lost entire families.

One man said that 50 of his wife’s family were locked in a house and it was burnt to the ground. Another woman told how she hid in her Catholic and Serbian neighbour’s house when the Serbian soldiers came because she was a Muslim. It was common for the soldiers who held Sarajevo under siege for four years to take a sports hall, a gym, library or school and turn it into a makeshift concentration camp.

The war has been over since 1995 and the people are living more normal lives but there is incredible poverty – unemployment levels in Hadici are running at 80 per cent. Many buildings are still pock-marked by bullets.

Healing Hands Network has given some 25,000 treatments to people from the various associations for victims of the war in the last 11 years, giving up to 3,000 each year. Many of their clients say that having massage treatments makes them feel like ‘a new born person’. Receiving touch in a caring, nurturing way is important when you have been physically abused, and for many it has gradually helped them to sleep and to heal.

Healing Hands Network needs therapists and funds: www.healinghandsnetwork.org.uk