“We never think about the mental health aspect of perimenopause and menopause,” Union explains. Sure, we often hear about menopausal mood swings, but that term doesn’t exactly point to the whole spectrum of emotional challenges that can occur. “There’s a host of ways it can manifest, mentally and emotionally.”
For instance, Union opens up about her experience with passive suicidal ideations: “It’s more of suicide as an idea, whereas someone being [actively] suicidal, there is a plan,” she explains. Like a little voice inside your head, jumping in with those intrusive thoughts.
After surviving a violent rape at the age of 19, Union vowed to never second-guess that little voice inside her head saying something was off—so, now, when that same voice is inundating her with thoughts of suicide? It’s frightening, to say the absolute least. “I knew immediately that I didn’t want to kill myself,” she continues. “I didn’t understand where this was coming from and why it was unrelenting.”
Turns out, these ideations were a symptom of her perimenopause depression, uncovered after working with a professional to get to the bottom of it. “This is passive suicidal ideation,” Union recounts. “These are just thoughts. [My therapist] talked me through it, and we looped in my primary care physician and got a full blood workup to really understand what we were dealing with and what we can do to help balance those [hormones], so we can address some of these symptoms.”
Today, Union thankfully no longer has passive suicidal ideations—but if she does, she now knows how to recognize it and take the necessary steps to overcome it.