Monday Motivation: Karen Arthur runs an empowering podcast called Menopause Whilst Black.
Need some Monday Motivation? Karen Arthur lost her passion for life at the start of her menopause. Her love of fashion would be the key to help rebuild her life. Karen is now a major voice in raising awareness of health issues for mature women online. She runs a successful podcast (Menopause Whilst Black) where she speaks to women from all over the world about their experiences.
After losing faith in her career, a relationship breakdown and waving her two daughters off to university, Karen Arthur lost her ‘passion for living’. During therapy, Karen realised something had to change. “I needed to take my life back into my own hands and find the things that would motivate me to battle through this horrible stage of my life.
In the search for happiness, Karen rediscovered her love for fashion and talent for needlework. Expressing herself through clothing was how she processed her mental health. Textiles and design became her tools for rebuilding a life that was representative of her truest self. She says, “I would dress consciously to lift my mood, whether I was going out or sitting at home. I still do it today, which helped me stay inspired during Covid-19 lockdowns. I was dressing up for no one but myself.”
It was only after battling her demons that Karen realised maybe there had been more going on than met the eye. “It’s kind of funny because in retrospect, I didn’t realise this was all happening at the start of my menopause. I was experiencing symptoms of all different kinds at one of the most difficult times in a woman’s life — no wonder I was burnt out!”
Psychiatrist and director of the Women’s Mood Disorders Centre at Johns Hopkins, Jennifer Payne, says that menopausal women are almost twice as likely to develop depression than men of the same age. Not to mention that a woman is also at higher risk of developing UTIs, experiencing regular heart palpitations and suffering from panic attacks.
“Maybe if my doctor had said that depression and anxiety are common in women as they go into menopause, it would have been easier for me to rationalise what was happening. But she didn’t make the connection — so of course I didn’t either.”
The Local Government Association estimates that around 13 million women are either pre, peri or post-menopausal in the UK. And yet in Karen’s experience, “Workplaces and society generally just don’t know what to do with menopausal women,” she says.
Karen took to the microphone and is now a major voice in raising awareness of health issues for mature women online. In her podcast (Menopause Whilst Black) she speaks to women from all over the world about their experiences. “I wanted to put myself out there to start a conversation and show up for other women like me,” Karen says. “I think it’s important that we all speak out, and that we are honest about all of this.”
She believes that every single voice is valid, no matter how quietly it whispers or how passionately it shouts. Her mission is simple. “I just want to share stories from other women so that everyone feels represented and listened to in this weird time of our lives. “If you have never asked yourself what brings you joy, then ask it now. What do you do every day purely for the love of it? Take the time to figure it out because it’s these little pockets of happiness that make life special.”
No longer in teaching, Karen now owns REDDSKIN, a bespoke handmade clothing business offering custom outfits and textiles masterclasses. She is an advocate for mental health and presents her own podcast, Menopause Whilst Black, to over 10,000 people online. The designer champions the celebration of love, passion and creativity in your 50s and beyond.
Now that Karen has found her own happiness, she has no plans to let it go. To keep her own peace of mind means helping other women feel the same. She says. “Every time we inhale, I think we should celebrate. I will keep speaking out until I draw my very last breath. Our silence serves no one, and we mature women benefit the world simply from being in it. So I won’t shut up about us until there’s no air left for me to breathe.”
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