Fay

It’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve joined a gym; I work out five days a week – something I never did when I was in my twenties or thirties. Just because you’ve reached this point in your life doesn’t mean you can’t still go on to achieve things and enjoy yourself.

I was forty-six and I’d just started a new job when I had my first hot flush. For about a year, things were tolerable, although I had to change my route into work as I couldn’t cope with the journey. I’d get on the tube already dripping with sweat and the anxiety would kick in. The new route was longer but more bearable.

The job was getting intense and I was in a role where I was under a considerable amount of pressure. Then my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and symptoms exploded – anxiety, insomnia, increasing hot flushes and night sweats.

I went to see a counsellor who suggested I see my GP. I went to see her and she said “I think you’re going through the menopause. We’re going to do some blood tests, but in the meantime, I’m going to give you some help.”

I’m very much into holistic treatment, but at that point I would have taken anything. The night sweats and hot flushes had been dreadful, as had the aching bones, but the anxiety was horrific. I cried a lot. I was the first of my friends to go through the menopause and no one really understood. It was hard on my partner as well and we split up.

I started taking the tablets and felt a little better, then they were discontinued. I went back to my GP and she suggested trying HRT patches. And Eureka! I felt so much better – I could function. I think I’ve been very lucky with my doctor, because after speaking to other women I realise their experiences have been very different to mine. When the patches were also discontinued, I went back to the GP and said I’d been doing some research and would like to try the Mirena coil and oestrogen. All my friends and family said that it was like having the old me back. I got quite emotional as I realised I’d been in such a bad way. It affected my confidence at work. I was constantly checking and rechecking what I’d done. It was a very challenging time. When my mother died, I took a week off work because the company were in the middle of negotiations. When I eventually left, I took six months off work. I’d never had the space before to deal with the menopause or my grief.

It took some time to find the treatment that worked for me. I like to tell other women that there’s this misconception that there’s only one HRT but there are lots of different treatments and you need to persist and find the one that’s right for you. I tell them to talk to their GP, talk to friends, join groups online. Don’t suffer in silence.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve joined a gym; I work out five days a week – something I never did when I was in my twenties or thirties and it has given me energy and confidence. Just because you’ve reached this point in your life doesn’t mean you can’t still go on to do and achieve things and enjoy yourself.

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