Welcome to the Dear Menopause show!
May 4, 2023

Embracing The Mess: Vulnerability & Growth with Angela Raspass

Embracing The Mess: Vulnerability & Growth with Angela Raspass
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Have you been told to just “power through” your midlife transitions, only to find yourself stuck and feeling hopeless?

Meet Angela Raspass, a dedicated coach, mentor, and speaker with a passion for empowering women to embrace their potential. Her expertise lies in self-leadership and a strength-based approach honed through 25 years of experience and education in positive psychology and neuroscience. Angela is also an author and podcast host, sharing her insights with a wider audience.

Her own experiences with addiction recovery, an ADHD diagnosis, and navigating menopause give her a unique understanding of the challenges women face during midlife transitions.

It's about understanding yourself and creating the circumstances for you personally to help you thrive. - Angela Raspass

After 25 years of helping women believe in themselves and overcoming a severe addiction, Angela employs an empowering self-leadership approach to help others break free of external expectations and take control of their own path to success.

In this episode we talk:

  • Exploring the crucial role of emotional intelligence in comprehending your own emotions and reactions.
  • Identifing the subtle signs of ADHD in women and the importance of formal diagnosis.
  • Reevaluating your definition of success while focusing on self-care and well-being during menopause.
  • Strengthening your resolve by embracing vulnerability and seeking assistance during midlife transitions.

The key moments in this episode are:

00:00:11 - Introduction to Angela Raspass,

00:03:14 - Messiness and Self-Leadership,

00:09:41 - Overcoming Addiction,

00:12:41 - What is Self-Leadership,

00:15:59 - Menopause and Self-Leadership,

00:15:15 - Skills for Self-Leadership,

00:19:29 - Midlife Self-Review,

00:23:23 - Changing the Future for Women,

00:27:54 - ADHD Diagnosis,

00:29:58 - Women with ADHD,

00:32:57 - Medication for ADHD,

00:39:47 - Designing Your Next Chapter,

00:40:03 - Menopause Treatment

Angela's website
Brene Brown
ADHD For Smart Ass Women - podcast
Four Thousand Weeks- book

Other episodes you will enjoy:
Sandy Lowres
Lou Johnson
Faith Agugu
Ali Daddo

Support the show

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Where to find Sonya:
Take the Midlife Quiz
Stellar Women Website

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[00:11] Sonya: You are in for a treat today. I am about to introduce you to a woman that I am incredibly privileged to call a friend, and I have done for many years. Angela raspus is an incredible woman. I'm not going to waffle on too much about who she is and what she does, because she will share all of that in the episode. Just know that this is a conversation that includes ADHD, diagnoses and MHT and menopause and self leadership. It's a brilliant chat. I loved it so, so much, and I really hope that you do, too. Say hi to Angela. You welcome to dear metaphors.

[00:53] Angela: Thank you. This is like taking our walk and talks online.

[00:59] Sonya: Yeah, like being overheard on our walk and talks, pretty much. Angela, it's an absolute honor. We have been plotting and planning this episode forever, probably since I first even conceived of the idea of their menopause. But it's taken us this long to get here for a variety of reasons, which we'll touch on through the podcast. But why don't you introduce yourself? Tell everyone that's listening why you're here?

[01:24] Angela: Well, apart from the fact that I madly love you and all the work that you do and want to be a part of this movement that you have built, what do I do in the world? Well, I'm a coach and a mentor and also do some speaking. Also podcasts. I've written a book, so there's a few different strings to my bow, so to speak. But specifically, what I'm really here for is to help women stop second guessing themselves so that they can really get to that heart of their next level of potential. And the way that I do that is by teaching self leadership skills and tools and also through a strength based approach. So it's what we are capable of rather than trying to patch over our apparent weaknesses. It's about really claiming our authority. And I work primarily with business owners and professional women who have done really well. But you know that feeling that we often get that we're not quite there yet? Well, it's helping them really move through that. So look, I've been doing this kind of work in one form or other for about 25 years. It's just that that thread has always run through of helping women believe more in themselves. Because if you think you can, you can. It really is that simple quite often. But I've jumped all over the place and I've studied lots of different things, because my biggest strength is growth. I love to learn and I love to share what I've learned. I guess we have something in common there, I'm sure.

[02:49] Sonya: I think we do.

[02:51] Angela: So I've been dancing with positive psychology and neuroscience, but also navigating my own ****. Overcoming a big time addiction. I've been in the recovery movement for over 16 years now and also got an ADHD diagnosis not that long ago. Only twelve months ago? At the age of 53 and then menopause got thrown into the ring as well. So there's a lot of navigation going on, but there's a lot of clowns in your car, there's a lot of stuff. And that's why the whole concept of self leadership, really understanding yourself, who you are, what you've got, where you want to go, it's just like a lighthouse, it's like a beacon, a guiding light. And it just took me a while to actually put a name to it and understand what it was all about. But effectively the same type of thing as you in a different way.

[03:39] Sonya: Yeah, I like that. And we are going to deep dive today with your blessing into those kind of messier areas, I guess, of your life. And I say that with great respect because you are someone that I believe from the outside looking in, totally has everything together and you are successful and confident and you have great natural leadership yourself. But behind the scenes there has been some messy things going on and you've navigated your way through those with incredible grace, but also with your innate ability to really research the **** out of what is going on before making any decisions about how you deal with medicaid, manage those in your life. So where would you like to start? I'd kind of like to hand the ball over to you a little bit. Like kind of where would you like to start?

[04:46] Angela: Jeez, that's a tricky one because there are so many chapters in the book. But I mean, the messiness that you're talking about, one of the things I'm really comfortable with is talking about messiness. Now, I'm a big fan of Brene Brown. I love her work. I love the idea of vulnerability and how shame is the thing that absolutely cuts us off at the knees. But it's so often it's projected shame. It's what we think other people are thinking that then serves to sort of direct our own behavior and that's a real disservice to ourselves. So if we go back in time, if we look at sort of pre recognition of what was going on for me before, the self awareness was really high back when my people pleasing, when my thinking that I wasn't enough thinking that. It's funny how you say you look like you got it together on the outside. Well, these little duck feet are paddling like hell underneath. But back then they were paddling in the wrong direction. Because I have a belief that women especially, and this is meant it happens to men as well, but we're speaking about women here, is that we are so socialized to act in certain ways. We're reinforced to behave in certain ways, to be of service to others, to sort of put our needs down the bottom of the priority totem pole and take care of other people. But also there were certain professions and careers and sort of preordain how success is supposed to look and trying to dance to that beat of someone else's drum and not really questioning it for a long time is what got me in the ****. Excuse my french.

[06:23] Sonya: No excuses for French. The widely spoken language on this podcast.

[06:27] Angela: Fantastic. Well, that language is something that I am fluent in. Then I have that as a second language. So people deal with things in different ways. And again, without that knowledge of what's going on under the surface, it's difficult to change your habits. Now, the way that I dealt with this incredible feeling of not being good enough, of feeling like an imposter, of not living up to expectations and not questioning whether those expectations were actually relevant for me or not. I self medicated with alcohol because that's the thing that took the edge off the fear of being discovered, the fear of getting it wrong, et cetera, et cetera. And look, it worked for a long time. Who doesn't like to sit down with a couple of glasses of wine at the end of the danga? Made it. But for me, unfortunately, and understanding some of the neurobiology of this and having a family, very large family, I've got 48 uncles and aunties. No, we're not Catholic. Excuse me.

[07:24] Sonya: And you did own televisions, grew up.

[07:27] Angela: In New Zealand, lots and lots of relatives. But I now understand that alcoholism ran through that family in some pretty nasty ways, but I had no understanding of that. And so I just thought I was an incredibly bad, terrible, horrible person who had this deep, dark secret, which I now know. A lot of people have talked to.

[07:47] Sonya: Me for a moment. I'd like to stop you there just for a little moment. You said that you thought that you were this deep, dark, terribly bad person. Why was that your belief? Is it the alcohol that made you think that? What kind of talk me through that a little bit.

[08:06] Angela: That's more about if you go back in time again to and I'm sure a lot of your listeners would have heard about the concept of where your self beliefs come from, where your self image comes from, your sense of identity. And it was rocked a fair few times when I was in my teenage years, in my early and experiences I had at school, which I now understand after having an ADHD diagnosis that I was pretty too much at school, I was pretty loud, I was pretty impulsive and opinionated, and that was just the way I showed up. But I had no understanding that there was a reason for that and that other kids perhaps would not take this enthusiasm for everything quite in the way I wanted it to be taken. So I got not physically, but I got verbally slapped a lot, and there was a lot of bullying and ostracizing when I was younger and not having the skills or the guidance to understand and process that. I internalized it as you suck. And I took that and I took that through. And the interesting thing is, Sonia, because I did well at school, I did well with the jobs I had, and then I started my own businesses, which went well. Everything on the outside, as you're saying, looked good. But an outside seeking external validation all the time to try and fix something that's a bit askew inside, it never works. And so it was those feelings that I utilized, I self medicated on. And I could have chosen shopping, I could have chosen exercise. God **** it, why didn't I get that addiction instead? But that's the one that I chose.

[09:43] Sonya: That comes with its issues, too. Okay, self medicating with alcohol. At what point did I guess the penny drop, that light bulb moment, or that crashing feeling of hitting rock bottom, did you realize that you actually had a problem?

[10:04] Angela: Oh, I knew it was hitting probably mid thirty s. I recognized that I was drinking too much. I hit it really well. I was what they call high functioning. But when you're alone with yourself, you really start questioning things. And I started searching for solutions. I tried lots of different things, because these days, the idea of drinking or stopping drinking, it's everywhere. Everyone's there's? Hello? Sunday morning. There's sober in the country, there's books and just so much stuff almost 1617 years ago that wasn't around. And there was this real feeling or communication that someone who had a problem with drinking had an addiction, was a bad person, and usually was weak willed, and perhaps was even in an overcoat with a paper bag on a park bench and none of that. I mean, that's like, one form. But there's a lot of people who battle with addictions that are invisible. So I was always looking for a way through, but I didn't really understand what I was facing. Fortunately, I came across a psychologist that sort of showed me a few things that made me realize what was going on, had an incredibly supportive family. I went to a very short in hospital stay for about five days, met some great mentors there who explained the cycle of addiction, started going to AA meetings and never looked back. I was ready. As they said, I hit mud bottom.

[11:36] Sonya: Not rock bottom, not rock bottom, mud bottom, mud.

[11:40] Angela: And then everything since then, like all of the work that is required to grow yourself and growth is my highest strength. It's one of my highest values that has led me to where I am today because I was just so motivated to learn more about how the brain works, how beliefs work, how self compassion works. When I found Brene Brown, I almost had a heart attack because everything that she spoke about made so much sense, and she's actually in the recovery movement as well.

[12:09] Sonya: That's right.

[12:10] Angela: And that's made me realize over the years. And then when I got the neurodiversity diagnosis as well, it helped me realize that self leadership was always bubbling away. That's the way through. It's about understanding yourself and giving yourself, creating the circumstances for you personally to help you thrive. It doesn't mean you don't look after your family and don't do lots of other things. But we deserve to be first equal in our lives, the same as everybody else in there.

[12:41] Sonya: Yeah. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be in a room full of women and to ask a show of hands of how many women consider themselves equal to everyone else in their lives? Yeah, I think it'd be an interesting room full of honest women that would actually honestly answer that question. I think that would be fascinating. I'd like to dive while we're on this topic a little bit into what is self leadership and is it a skill that you are born with and you naturally kind of have bubbling away under the surface and perhaps you are then given opportunities where it becomes stronger? Or is it a learned skill? Is it something that you can go, I want to improve my self leadership or I want to get some self leadership. Talk us through that a little bit.

[13:30] Angela: Yeah, it's a great question and that distinction between them. My belief is that there are people whose circumstances means that they have more natural self leadership than other people because all of our circumstances are different. But it is a set, it's a set of skills and tools that can be learned. Absolutely. It comes from self determination theory. That's where I've built it from. And there are people that talk about self leadership bandura and there's all sorts of research. I'll give you some links to pop.

[14:00] Sonya: Into the show notes that'd be amazing.

[14:01] Angela: But when I was reading through it and coupling that with my own lived experience, I sort of cut it into five areas. Right. The first one self knowledge. So without self knowledge, you're sort of running around in the dark. So that's understanding what are your strengths and what are your values and what is your personal vision for what it is that you want to achieve and how do you want to feel, that type of thing. So that's an absolute research, to use your word as you were using before, it's a bit of a research proposal and there's lots of tools that you can utilize to get that better understanding of yourself and to really own the value that you create in the world. So the next part is cognitive flexibility. So this is your ability not to be stuck in a certain type of thinking. There's like one of my cognitive distortions, for example, is black and white thinking. It's all or nothing, it's go hard or go home. And that has not served me well. There's lots of other distortions as well that you can be using on a daily basis and not even realize the impact that it's having on you. And you can be stuck in a certain way of thinking. So it's a skill set that allows you to be more flexible in the way what you bring to a situation, how you interpret a situation, and therefore what actions you'll take as a result. So that's a set of skills to learn. Another one is emotional intelligence. The emotions that we experience are really a map for us. They're getting our attention, they're asking for us to respond. And quite often we can push our emotions aside because we don't see them.

[15:34] Sonya: As appropriate, but they can also be uncomfortable, very uncomfortable. Challenging, yes, exactly.

[15:40] Angela: And learning how to sit with that, but also to use the iceberg. So this is the emotion that's above the surface, what's driving it underneath, and it's having the courage and the tools to look at that and to understand it and perhaps to make some different choices as a result. It might mean you need to have a conversation with somebody. It might mean you need to put a boundary in place. It might mean, like a good example is anger. Anger is usually what you can see as a top level emotion, but it's quite often driven by fear. But women in particular are socialized not to show it. If we push it down for too long, it's going to pop up somewhere else. So emotional intelligence, and that's a skill we can absolutely learn, that the next piece is intentional action. So it's like once you're clear or clearer on who you are, where you want to go, the impact you want to make in the world, what's important to you, you can make choices based on that lighthouse, that destination. And making choices that are intentional, not made by default, not just reacting to something and just doing it, but actually building our new lives, our businesses, our careers, our lives in an intentional way. And that might seem like old duh, of course, but it is so easy to get sidetracked and to wake up and go, how the hell did I get here? And I think at our age in particular, once we hit these menopause years, it's a bit of a wake up because other responsibilities fall away and we go, okay, am I actually living the life I want? Do I like the business I've created? Am I happy in the career I have? Well, without intentional action, from here on, you can get stuck. And then the last piece is vitality because all of that stuff, which sounds a bit esoteric and theoretical, but it's got very practical applications without vitality, like emotionally, mentally, physically, without feeling like you've got that energy, you can't do this stuff. So this is about your own oxygen mask. And it looks different for different people, the recipe for your own personal vitality. But it's the basic stuff. It's good nutrition. It's getting the sleep it's having some time in nature, some sort of spiritual concept in your life. It's moving your body, not exercising. But I used to see exercise as punishment for being chubby.

[18:06] Sonya: We've had this conversation so many times.

[18:09] Angela: We've had it, haven't we? And that is not self leadership. Self leadership is deciding, this is how I want to feel and this is the sort of movement that makes my body feel good and makes me happy, so I'm more likely to do it. Screw the scales. There's totally different reasons for this movement. So that vitality piece for me has completely transformed in the last few months because I'm not using it as a battering ram or a whip. Instead, I'm using it for joy and for health. Yeah, really different.

[18:42] Sonya: Love that so much. One of the things that you touched on there is really relevant to a lot of conversations I've been having recently, and also conversations I've heard other people having recently, and that is that we have this opportunity in this midlife or third act, as I heard Jane Fonda refer to it. Now, Jane Fonda, I think she was talking about from her 60s onwards, was her third act. But we have this opportunity to do a little bit of a lifestyle take, a little bit of a life review, like you absolutely talking about before, of sitting down and kind of going, okay, so these patterns, these beliefs, these jobs, these relationships have all got me to where I am today. What do I want to take forward with me into the next part of my life? What do I want to leave behind? Or what would I like to bring in that I haven't had before? And I think it's such a juicy time of life to really sit in that space and do that analysis. And I love this concept of self leadership and your five kind of pillars that make up that. I think for any woman that is happy and comfortable to sit in that space of self review, I think these tools would be so beneficial.

[19:55] Angela: They really help. Or what I've discovered is that they really help with you deciding what that next chapter looks like. Because I know for myself, my kids are now 23, 20 or 24. Whoops. Sorry, Cameron. And my bonus boys are 36 and 34. Like, there's been a lot of kids in my life, but now this space is opening up and the space that's opened up because you don't have that same hands on responsibility. That space is like, it can be a vacuum. We need to pause. We have to pause and question. And that absolutely can feel uncomfortable. Some regret comes in and some for choices that I didn't make. Potential other lives I could have lived.

[20:40] Sonya: Sliding door moments.

[20:42] Angela: Exactly. And we need to face that and we need to be honest with ourselves about things and then accept it. Almost move through a little bit of that grief cycle in some scenarios. And I'm not saying everyone's sitting here going, oh my God, I wish I'd done it different. It's about getting that appreciation for what's happening now and then reconnecting to your strengths and your values and start to do the tweaks. Sometimes women I work with chuck their businesses out the door and start a whole new one. Some of them refine it. Some of them go, why the hell am I offering this service when I really detest delivering it? Or what? The career that I've been. And why have I stayed in this corner when I really want to get over there? And so it's that reckoning, period. And I think the beauty is, as we get to this sort of age, like I'm 54, is that I don't care as much about what other people think, right? And Elston, honestly, if I'd known when I was younger that they're not thinking I just think they're thinking the freedom that would have been inherent in that.

[21:46] Sonya: I love that so much. We do. We spend so much time wondering about what other people are thinking, but 99% of the time, they're not thinking about us at all.

[21:55] Angela: Absolutely. It's hilarious when you think about that. And one of the things you often said when I've been listening to your brilliant episodes is that part of the work we're doing here, and especially you as a menopause advocate, is changing things for the future, for the generations who come after us. And I think for women in particular, to recognize that we have more self efficacy than we actually think we do, that we can conditioning.

[22:20] Sonya: I touched on this conversation in an episode recently with Sandy Lowry's where we talked about this, and she had an episode of her podcast where she'd spoken with Jane Carrow. And one of the things that Jane had kind of pointed out to her and I don't think even the realization of this had fully landed on me until Sandy and I were talking about it. And that is that we are the first generation of women that can use our voices, that can work without having to leave our jobs when we fall pregnant, that can buy a house in our own name, can loan money from a bank, you know, we have so much more autonomy and rights, I guess, than the previous generations. And that's like, you know, I kind of have I'm constantly going, It's 2023. Like, life should be better than it is, but it's 2023, and we're the first generation to really be able to lean into that space and take advantage of it. And that just blows my mind.

[23:25] Angela: I had that conversation with my daughter the other day. I was born in 1969. I said, when I was born, a woman could not have her own credit card without her husband signing for it. She's like, you're joking. But it was true. And I do have a lot of hope with the kids that are coming through now with just their acceptance of gender fluidity and just so many things that rocked the boat when we were coming through. I remember when I first arrived in Australia in 1988, and some of the **** that was happening with the gay bashings around manly and just the total. If you weren't this type of person, if you actually had the audacity to step away from this narrow path, you were slapped down in all different sorts of ways, physically, mentally, socially, at work. There was so much. But it has broadened. And yeah, we're standing here now with these possibilities that we never used to have and that is hugely exciting. And look, I wish I'd woken up to it a bit earlier, but there is something that definitely happens in these older years. I didn't even understand what perimenopause was. I thought I was pretty smart and well educated, didn't have a freaking clue.

[24:40] Sonya: Most doctors don't know what it is. And we hold doctor, and I have great respect for doctors, so this is not any doctor bashing by any stretch of the imagination, but we hold doctors on a pedestal. Like if you said lawyers, doctors, surgeons, they're up there as we consider them to be the pillars. The pillars, the most educated and the intellectual people amongst us. And they don't know about perimenopause. A lot of them. I mean, partly because they're not educated, but even so, it's crazy. And that's why going back to what you mentioned earlier, if we're just bringing that out into the open, making it a term that's used, everybody knows what it means. Everybody knows that can be helped. That if you have these symptoms, then you can go and see your doctor and hopefully they'll tell you that that's what it is and this is how you can manage it. That there's lifestyle changes that you can make. The things that we have to think about doing now for the generations coming behind us will just be a given.

[25:48] Angela: And this is the whole point of using our voices. Like, you've chosen to use your voice in a really powerful way to have these conversations. I choose to use my voice talking around addiction and around ADHD, as well as the self leadership and the things that we can do there. Because when we use our voices and let other people know that, hey, this is something that a lot of us experience and then someone else is motivated to add their voice and add their voice and someone's experience is normalized. That's the powerful role that we can all play as individuals and that's a gift that we give to our kids. My kids are fluid in the language of addiction. They're fluid in the language of neurodiversity and God **** it, they are getting fluid on the language of menopause. I talked about it. I'd be sitting at dinner with them going, oh my God, I have to change to a T shirt. I'm, like, so hot. And I've talked a lot about it. Not like not a lot in terms of, well, here's the sermon from the Mount for today. But I've not hidden any of what I'm experiencing because it needs to be normalized. There is nothing shameful about we're going through these new gates to a different stage of life. I'm not going to keep that secret. That's just stupid. My son needs to know about what women experience. My daughter needs to know about what she's experiencing. My husband needs to know why his wife is a little strange. And all of that is really, really important. So I love that you're having these conversations with us.

[27:20] Sonya: Thank you. Thank you. I love having these conversations. So for me, it's an easy thing to do. I want to talk about your neurodiversity, your ADHD diagnosis, because again, I think this is something else that is only just becoming normalized, particularly for women in their forty s and fifty s. There are a lot of women I know that have recently been diagnosed with a level of ADHD or a form of ADHD. Some have sought medication, some have not. But it's something that is becoming a little bit more accepted and normalized. And I want to talk about your experience with ADHD again, a little bit like the addiction. Why did you get to the point where you get the actual diagnosis? What have you done to manage that now that you've had the diagnosis? And how different do you feel compared to the version of you, I guess, that was pre your diagnosis?

[28:22] Angela: Yeah, absolutely. Well, the first thing to probably notice is that there seems to be a lot of diagnosis happening in yes, women in their forty s and fifty s. And some people dismiss that, oh, look, everyone's getting on the train. Yeah, not true. But what has happened again is that our generation, we have kids that are getting diagnosed. My daughter had a late diagnosis as well, at age 19, and I started reading all the information I had to read to understand ADHD, to be able to help her more. And I'm reading it and going, Hang on a minute. I saw myself in the descriptions, and I remember saying to my daughter, there's some of this that sounds a bit like what I do. And she went, oh, duh, where do you think I got it from? Mum? It was hilarious. And I spoke to a friend who'd been diagnosed again about 56, and she went, well, yeah, I believe these reasons. And I went, okay, that's two people. And I spoke to a client, actually had just come on a retreat with me, a business retreat who works in the field, and I said, oh, ha. My daughter and my friend think I've got ADHD. Ha ha. She didn't laugh and she went, well, actually, I've seen many of the traits and. I went okay. So I went off and booked an appointment with a psychiatrist, did the assessments, had the conversations, and it came back absolute loud and clear that you have the combined type. So both inattentive and also hyperactive. See, in women, we don't present with the typical hyperactivity that people associate naughty little boys with in terms of having ADHD. Can't sit still. Our hyperactivity is often inside the brain. And I didn't know that either. I had never considered that I have ADHD. It had never, ever come up on the radar. But when I started learning more about it, it ticked almost every freaking box for so many of the ways that I show up in the world. Aka back when I was young teenager, really smart, learns things really quickly, can't shut up, has to blurt out what is on her mind right then and there, but not knowing that any of that was because of neurodiversity. Now I can look back. You go through a cycle when you're diagnosed. I found it, and I've certainly talked to plenty of people who have. At first there's like surprise and shock, like, seriously. And then there is excitement. It's like, wow, this all makes sense. And then there is sadness. Oh my God, if I'd known this so many years ago, I wouldn't have done so many impulsive things as a business owner, how many new services that I introduced. My husband said, every year you need to reinvent your business. I would make really quick decisions which I might then live to regret. Then came the anger. Why the hell didn't someone notice this earlier? It would have saved so much pain. And then into acceptance. And then the stage I'm in now is acknowledgment. Like, I can't show up with, like, for example, regular content creation. I've tried every plan under the sun. It does not work for me because of the way that my brain needs novelty, it needs stimulation, it needs positivity, it needs change. So if I try and stick to an absolute routine, it will not work for me. I will manage it for about three to six weeks and then I'll chuck it out, chuck the baby out with the bathwater. So I can now appreciate also the benefits of a neurodivergent brain, which is incredible divergent thinking, this ability to be able to connect dots at lightning speed and see possibilities for people and for businesses and careers that other people can't spot. It's because of the way my brain sees patterns. And I really appreciate that. Using the strengths accreditation that I use with clients now on myself, seeing what my strengths are and deciding to live in that space rather than try and correct my weaknesses. All of that has meant so much has changed because I've got a totally different appreciation for the way I tech. And so that allows me to make different decisions going forward. So I'm actually incredibly relieved and happy and the last piece is I did choose medication. And it's hard to express this without a bit of a metaphor because my brain is so quiet. Now imagine when you wake up in the morning, you know the little minions from those movies, little yellow guys with the glasses? When I wake up in the morning unmedicated, they are like milling around like crazy little critters all asking for my attention with 1001 different thoughts and ideas and things. When I take my medication, they all line up in a row and wait their turn. That's the best way I can describe it. I suddenly have a quieter brain without this urgency and this impulsivity and I can consider things more carefully. And my psychologist has also explained the correlation between addiction and ADHD is off the charts. Oh, wow. Yeah, because you're always looking for dopamine. My caffeine addiction. I used to mainline Red Bulls and Diet Cokes. I haven't had a single one since I started medication, which blows my mind. I just used to live on this stuff because my brain has now got what it needed from the medication that I used to seek from the caffeine. Honestly, it's like a whole new world.

[34:15] Sonya: And on a day to day basis, how does that look different for you now?

[34:19] Angela: A great example yesterday. So here I am on a typical working day and I have taken the time to write down my lists of things that need to happen and I can prioritize them as opposed to on a typical working day in the past. Oh, what looks the most exciting? I'll start with that. Oh, I found a new AI tool. I'm going to go play with that even though I need to write a proposal. So I am brilliant at getting stuff done. I'm a brilliant action taker and I have a huge capacity for work. But it didn't always mean that I was taking action on the most effective things, on the things that were going to move the needle in the right way. It also means that my nutrition is far better because I pause for lunch and I eat binge eating is a big part of unmedicated, undiagnosed ADHD because you tend to put things off because you're so absorbed in what you're doing and then suddenly you go, oh my God, I'm starving. I'm going to eat the entire house. So nutrition has changed. Being able to be more regular with movement because I've chosen the movement that works for me rather than the movement I think I should be doing. So all of this feeds into this self leadership approach, but I can do it far more effectively, like be a self leader when my particular brain has the medication that assists. I've also got an ADHD coach who is helping helping me understand that I don't need to push myself into doing things in a certain way just because I think that's the way they should be done. Instead I will leverage my unique set of skills and way of showing up in the world to get things done. It's just a different way. No guilt now. No guilt. No shooting all over myself which I used to do all the time.

[36:07] Sonya: So there's a freedom.

[36:08] Angela: There's a freedom.

[36:09] Sonya: Yeah. I think that's from my perspective listening to you that's a great word from what I hear is that you have much more freedom and as a result it sounds like much more time because your time is used more productively.

[36:25] Angela: Yeah, it's better spent. It's better spent because I am leading myself rather than being led by this brain balance. So yeah, that's where it really comes down from.

[36:39] Sonya: And this must be really exciting, because if we go back to what we were talking about before, about this being our midlife and the next chapter to come, you must now have so much or feel like you have so much clarity and ability to actually set yourself apart and know that you are more likely to stick to it.

[37:01] Angela: Yeah, well actually I chose a word for this year and it's probably going to stay around for a while which is anchored because I'm anchored now in far more clarity and confidence. And what we was talking about before with that feeling that as we move into these years we are much less likely to rely on external validation, other people's opinions. Well, this takes it a step further for me with having a neurodiversity. I'm susceptible to criticism. Really susceptible. Like there's a thing called rejection sensitivity, a Dysphoria which is a part of the ADHD or can often be a part of the ADHD experience. And I've certainly felt it felt really beholden to other people's opinions. Well, you take turning 54 now being in Menopause, I've just made it over the line and my brain is gay celebration and my brain has got the medication that it needs. It's not that I don't give a **** about other people. Like kindness is one of my highest values. But I am so much more self reliant. I don't need to justify the things that I value, the impacts that I want to make, the decisions that I want to make. I don't need to justify them. It's like life's too short. And I guess the other piece that's played into this Sonya is I've just come back from New Zealand where both of my parents they separated years ago, divorced, remarried but they're both in nursing homes now with dementia. And that whole one of the book that I know you always ask what are you reading at the moment? Well, just to come forward, 4000 weeks time management. For mortals 4000 weeks is an average life. So if you work out how many weeks you've had so far, how many weeks you've got left and I'm looking at my parents who are both 80 so I've got 25 years left. I am going to make the most of those years by doing the things that are important to me that are going to have a positive impact on others because meaningful work is right up there. It's so important to me. I'm going to take good care of my health because I want to make those remaining years as enjoyable and comfortable and adventurous as possible. So it's all of these I think once we really, as women at this stage of life, really get that, that these next years can be exactly what we want of them. Of course life throws curveballs, but that's okay. We can manage those with resilience, but we can design this next stage of our life with all of this knowledge and excitement and support from women like you, connection with other women who are recognizing the power that we've got. It really does. I'm on my soapbox now, but it's exciting. I feel really empowered by it.

[39:49] Sonya: Yeah. And just quickly touching on. You also are taking MHT for your menopause, is that still the case?

[39:58] Angela: Yes, I'm taking Tibalone, which was awesome. I literally went from ten hot flushes a day to Yay, life is normal again. And I understand that it's got great benefits for my bone health, for my heart health, cognitively. So I actually was a bit scared of HRT because of that outdated information that came in those earlier studies. But I hit, thankfully, the second time around, a really good doctor who could have the conversation and allay those fears and choose the HRT that is best for me. And I have no regrets. I'm staying on these suckers as long as is relevant because it's made a huge difference. I can actually move through the world without having to get naked because I was so **** hot all the time.

[40:44] Sonya: Hot all the time. Yeah. That's brilliant. And I think it's really important to share what therapies women are using and what's working for them. Always remembering that every single woman is having a completely individualized experience and any treatments or lifestyle changes that she makes are always going to be unique to her. But I think it's always important to really highlight what has worked for women so that other women can go, oh, okay, well, I heard that that worked for her. Maybe I'll ask if that would also work for me. And like you said, it took you a couple of GPS too to get to someone that was able to help you with your menopause as well, didn't it?

[41:25] Angela: Yeah, I think the first time, to be honest, because there was a lot of stuff going on at home with some mental health challenges and so the doctor said, oh, well, you just need antidepressants.

[41:35] Sonya: That old chestnut.

[41:36] Angela: Yeah, well, I believed them and I did it for a while and I'm off them now. They were a bit helpful, but they didn't really address all the stuff that was going on. You can't look at any symptom in isolation. Unfortunately, the second doctor understood that and helped me get what made the biggest difference. So, yeah, I encourage anyone to ask the questions because, as you were saying before, we often defer to those who we perceive to be in a more authoritative position than us, but who has more authority over ourselves than ourselves absolutely. To ask the questions.

[42:14] Sonya: Yeah. And we always have to remember that nobody knows our body better than we do.

[42:20] Angela: Absolutely.

[42:21] Sonya: Yeah.

[42:22] Angela: That's a biggie.

[42:23] Sonya: Angela, I have loved our chat so much, and you did beat me to my question. No, by all means, let's dive into that a little bit more if you want. Share with us what you've been reading, watching, or listening to recently that's bringing you joy.

[42:38] Angela: Well, the 4000 weeks is great. Really? It talks about your bucket list. It talks about how you can't do everything, see everything, be everything. So making the choices actually makes them more joyful because they mean so much more because you've chosen them to be able to really selectively chosen them. So I love that book. I'm watching Ted Lasso. Oh, my God. The joy jolts. I love the concept of joy jolt just the best. It's sublime. I love anything that reinforces that. Yeah, there's a lot of **** out there in the world, but there is many, many more good people doing good things. I don't care that it's made up. I love it. It just makes me happy. And a couple of things I'm listening to is ADHD for Smart *** Woman is a great podcast who I've met. I've learned so much about ADHD, and I was actually lucky enough to be interviewed on that with Tracy a few episodes ago, episode 220, and that was so much fun. And the other one is A Short History of which is a fabulous wee podcast that I love. History. I've learned so much about things in the world just by listening to that. It's short and sweet and I love it. I do lots of coloring in whilst I'm listening to podcasts and Audible books. That's like one of my stress releases that I really, really enjoy.

[43:57] Sonya: So. Yeah, I like that. I cook while I'm listening to quite often, if I'm in the kitchen cooking or prepping or cleaning up, I'll have podcasts on. Or if I'm out walking, that's my podcasting time. Or in the car. Got a big gum. We're driving to Canberra. Not this coming weekend, the weekend after. And I literally will start planning my podcast playlist.

[44:16] Angela: I do.

[44:17] Sonya: My husband has to listen to the podcast, but I choose the entirety.

[44:22] Angela: Sharing. Sharing is caring, right? You're helping him.

[44:26] Sonya: Poor man. He'd only be exposed to sport if he was left to his own devices.

[44:30] Angela: You got to expand, expand his experience.

[44:32] Sonya: I am broadening his experiences. Absolutely. Angela, thank you so much for coming on. I'm so glad that we finally got this conversation happening. And I know that the things that we've touched on, your willingness to be transparent and share your experiences is going to help somebody, hopefully more than one person that's listening to this podcast today.

[44:55] Angela: Well, that's exactly how what happened to me. It was other people's example, other people's willingness to share their experiences, that opened doors for me. So we just got to keep on doing that for everyone else. Pass the chain along. So thank you for the opportunity. It's always a delight chat with you, my friend.

[45:15] Sonya: Thank you for listening today. I am so grateful to have these conversations with incredible women and experts, and I'm grateful that you chose to hit play on this episode of Dear Menopause. If you have a minute of time.

[45:30] Angela: Today, please leave a rating or a review.

[45:32] Sonya: I would love to hear from you because you are my biggest driver for doing this work. If this chat went way too fast for you and you want more, head over to Stellarwomen.com Au Podcast for the show Notes. And while you're there, take my Midlife quiz to see why it feels like Midlife is messing with your head.