MENOPAUSE AND ME
It seems a bit odd putting something like this on my website, but so many of you have shown interest and I made a promise to share my experience. I haven’t blatantly advertised it, but it’s here for you lovely ladies to seek out if and when you wish.
Going through the menopause is a breeze for some, but for a lot/most it can tear them down and strip them of who they are unless they get help. I must point out, I am not a medic, this is just my experience and everyone’s genetic make up is different. One thing that works for me may not work for someone else so you should definitely speak to a professional. Nutritionists like my friend Angela (feed yourself smarter) can also shed light on what is happening in your body and help with natural supplements to get you through it. This is just my experience so far, and I’m sure along the way there will be bumps and I’ll need to make adjustments but for now I feel I have a grip on it.
The first symptoms that I’m aware of began around early 2017. I say ‘aware of’ because I could’ve been having symptoms earlier on and just not recognised them, as I had been living in France and in a marriage that was breaking down, so maybe what I thought was depression was the onset of peri menopause. Who knows!
The symptoms that I did recognise were the obvious ones that everybody knows about. The prickles climbing up my neck swiftly followed by a burning heat that suddenly came from nowhere. Those sleepless nights were a killer, and I would constantly wake through the night soaking wet. At first, each episode went on for a good 5-6 months, when noticeably my period stopped and the flushes would start. However, as soon as the night sweats stopped and I slept through the night, it was obvious that my period was going to show up again, and within two or three days there it was. This continued to happen for the next 2 to 3 years when the length of time between menstruation and sweats became shorter.
Throughout all of this, I went through a separation, a divorce and a house move, so a lot of the emotions that I was roller-coastering through could’ve been a mix of anything, and with the exception of the hot flushes, I didn’t put any of it down to menopause.
Around September 2019 – so about 2 and a half years since recognising I was potentially in perimenopause – my anxiety started to peak. By this time I was divorced and living on my own with the kids so at first I put it down to the stress of running a business and single-handedly bring up two children. Money was very tight, the business was up-and-down and of course this would cause anybody to feel anxious, but by October it really started to get a lot worse. Business had picked up again and I was extremely happy in a new relationship, but I was on the verge of tears almost 5 or six times every day for no real reason at all, it certainly didn’t seem normal. Every time the doorbell went, I was thinking it was the postman returning some parcels, sending me into a spin convinced that my business was going down the pan and that nobody liked my brand anymore. I didn’t particularly like ME anymore, I felt insecure in my new relationship and everything just became completely overwhelming. I couldn’t think straight or make important decisions (I couldn’t even make non-important decisions) my brain was full of fog. I’d walk into a room and completely forget why I was there. We all laugh about baby brain, but this was much worse. It got really bad, the crying got worse and I honestly started to believe I was losing my mind.
Only after reading an article by Patsy Kensit where she walked into a shop and couldn’t remember why she was there so bought some American tights (she doesn’t even wear American tan tights) I realised that maybe my craziness had something to do with the menopause. I got in touch with a friend who is a nurse at my local GP and she told me that I needed to get my bloods done and that I should book an appointment at the doctors. When I arrived for my test I was asked for forms that I didn’t have, mainly because I hadn’t seen the doctor beforehand like I was supposed to! The nurse could clearly see that I was about to burst into tears and quickly went to talk to a doctor to get the relevant forms for me. I was a complete mess as the thought of dragging this out any longer was too much to bare!
A week later I had the results – I was in full swing menopause! I was asked if I wanted to try HRT or if I wanted to look at natural remedies. I opted for the oestrogen gel as it seemed like a middle ground – it’s a bit like when I choose wine on a wine list I always go for the third or fourth bottle down as a safe bet……. Anyway, within two weeks I saw an enormous difference. The anxiety had gone, I could think clearly again and my sense of humour, which I had definitely lost, had returned.
Being in a new relationship made it tough to discuss with my boyfriend, it’s not an easy subject to bring up at the best of times, but it’s hardly the most romantic thing to bring up and how do you even start a conversation like that. ‘Oh by the way darling, I’m drying up’! However, as we were driving to the coast for a weekend away the subject came up. He knew I’d been to the doctors for check-ups but I wasn’t saying why, he was thinking the worst possibly scenario so I had to fess up. He was surprised that I hadn’t discussed it with him and so we had a long talk about menopause and the changes I was going through. He was honest and said it was a relief to know, as he had definitely seen a change in me, especially the nutsy part, but was glad we could now deal with it together and not to keep things like that from him. Yes, he’s a keeper!
This encouraged me to be more open and honest about what I was going through because this is not an embarrassing subject, this is something that every single one of us has to go through, there is no get out of jail free card and we need support and to support others. I have friends that tell me that they’re feeling low or that they’re feeling anxious but they don’t know why as everything else in their life is good. I say think about whether it could be the menopause, and don’t let anybody tell you you’re too young because it can happen at any time and shouldn’t be overlooked. Doctors should not be handing out antidepressants as a sure fix to a woman telling them she is anxious/can’t sleep/constantly worried or whatever, and especially don’t let a man tell you that! Talk to your girlfriends listen to them look out for them, and even act for them if necessary.
I do also take magnesium tablets to aid sleep and well woman 50+ as they have all the supplements needed, but most of all I think keeping fit and eating healthily helps. You’re not supposed to drink alcohol but a girls got to have some fun or what’s the bloody point!
I hope that writing my story has helped at least one person.