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The “Sunday Scaries” May Be More Serious Than Workplace Angst

A Personal Account of Career Ending Menopausal Depression and Anxiety.

Mia West
January 4, 2024
Medically-reviewed and fact checked by Ryan Lester, PA-C

As the weekend winds down, many of us find ourselves grappling with a familiar foe: the Sunday Scaries. This phenomenon, characterized by a sense of unease or anxiety as the workweek approaches, is a shared experience for many with 75% of working adults saying they’ve had a case. However, it's essential to recognize that the Sunday Scaries can manifest differently for women, influenced by societal expectations, workplace dynamics, and personal factors, not to mention, menopause. 

I’m no stranger to this feeling. In the early hours of a Sunday morning in March 2022, I found myself gripped by an unfamiliar and paralyzing panic attack – a departure from my usually composed self. Tears flowed uncontrollably, a reaction seemingly disproportionate to the work challenges at hand, but I took these next level Sunday Scaries as a sign I could no longer hack it. The following day I met with the CEO and resigned to care for my mental health, not realizing I had walked away from a thriving career due to the onset of perimenopause. 

The Great Unknown

The months leading up to this moment had been marked by underlying anxiety, brain fog, and insomnia. Attributing these struggles to the demanding role of Senior Vice President, where I managed teams and clients across different time zones while grappling with understaffing and ambitious financial targets, I felt the weight of my responsibilities bearing down on me. The prior years had also seen a tumultuous divorce and the shock of my father's stroke, justifying my fragile emotional state. Why would I believe it could be tied to hormone health?

However, as I transitioned out of the high-stakes role, I began hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat other symptoms of perimenopause, unaware it would also help alleviate my mental health and sleep difficulties. Over time, as I contributed to this blog about the many issues tied to our shifting hormones, I learned that declining estrogen can have detrimental effects on the brain. Had I been better prepared by my OB/GYN for this inevitable life phase, I may have been able to stay the course by simply balancing my hormones.

Menopausal Depression & Anxiety

Discovering that perimenopause was the genesis of my challenges brought a new perspective. Women undergoing hormonal changes during perimenopause often find themselves unprepared for the physical and mental toll it can take. 

Unfortunately, my experience is not unique. Women of menopausal age (40-60) are frequently prescribed antidepressants in the US, more so than any other demographic. Research has also shown that over half of peri and postmenopausal women believe menopause has negatively impacted their work life, with a third considering shifting to part-time work and a nearly a quarter pondering an early retirement due to its impact on sleep, mental health/mood, physical health and inability to focus on work.  

To top it off, my personal struggle with perimenopause intensified imposter syndrome, a persistent companion for many women of color. Feeling inadequate and believing I had lost my touch, I grappled with the idea that I was no longer relevant or capable in my professional role. The lack of understanding about perimenopause left me without the language to articulate my experience, further amplifying the anxiety.

Taking Control

Not that I have regrets about my decision, but in retrospect, I wish I had spoken to a mental health professional before walking away from the career I had prioritized for over two decades. Perhaps they could have shed light on the hormonal triggers, or at the very least, encouraged me to speak to a doctor and have my hormones tested

For those with frequent Sunday Scaries that aren’t tied to hormonal imbalances, there are of course numerous ways to muffle the noise. In addition to counseling, coping mechanisms include building a strong support system, setting realistic expectations, and practicing self-care. Additionally, workplaces can contribute to a healthier work environment by fostering inclusivity and addressing gender-specific challenges.

Changing the Narrative

It is crucial to shed light on the challenges faced by women during menopause and address the gaps in healthcare support. By sharing our stories, we break the silence surrounding women's health, empowering others to seek help and fostering a workplace culture that recognizes and supports the unique struggles faced by women navigating the Sunday Scaries and beyond. My hope is that, collectively, we can contribute to changing the narrative, ensuring that women are informed, supported, and equipped to face this transformative stage of life.

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About the Author

Mia West

A former journalist, Mia brings a high energy approach to communications rooted in insights, culture and brand DNA. She is driven by helping brands crystalize their story and foster meaningful, emotional connections with audiences. Over the years she has collaborated with prominent brands such as Petco, Keurig Dr Pepper, Jaguar Land Rover, Revlon, and Procter & Gamble Beauty, as well as many others in the retail, health & wellness, beauty, lifestyle, and sustainability realms. A California native, she lives in San Diego with her family at the beach.

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