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Let's talk about the Menopause

Catherine shares her experience of the menopause, how it effected her mental health and her desire to get more women talking about the menopause!

I was about 43 when I suddenly began to struggle with problem solving at work and I started getting less and less sleep. My doctor said he thought I was stressed and suffering from depression. I remember arguing with him saying I didn’t feel depressed, I had suffered from depression in the past but this felt different. My periods began to get heavier and lasted longer. A blood test showed I was anaemic, and I was prescribed antidepressant and Iron tablets and was told this was the cause of my heavy periods. Menopause wasn’t even mentioned as at age 43 I was too young, menopause only happened to women in their 50s right. My iron levels returned to normal, but I was still struggling with lack of sleep and concentration. I started a new job at Solent Mind which I loved and was no longer stressed at work. 

But by this time, I was living on 4 hours sleep a night and sometimes I wouldn’t get any sleep at all.

My colleague noticed that I kept using the wrong words for things, it was as if someone had filed all the words in my memory in the wrong place. It was quite funny at times and very frustrating at other times.

My doctor put me on the contraceptive pill which just made things worse. He eventually sent me for a blood test which showed I was perimenopausal. After a particularly heavy period I was rushed to hospital and warned that I might need a blood transfusion. I was given 2 different medications to control the bleeding which I am pleased to say worked very well and I still use these from time to time. It was suggested that I have an IUD fitted which would help with the bleeding because it has the hormone progesterone in it. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me the first time and I had to have another fitted 2 months later. I was told 1 in 20 fail. The second IUD was amazing it completely changed my life, I was no longer having to be confined to the house due to heavy bleeding.

I was still struggling with my concentration and getting more and more frustrated with the problems I was having with my concentration and memory and was crying about 10 times a day over nothing. My doctor ran another blood test and I was found now to be menopausal. He prescribed HRT and within a month I noticed the difference, my sleep and concentration improved, I stopped crying over every little thing and I’m sure my colleagues appreciated me not moaning about being hot all the time.

I still struggle with menopausal symptoms from time to time, such as anxiety and it has really knocked my confidence particularly when it comes to public speaking and remembering information. I’m now about to have some therapy to help with this.

My advice is don’t give up, it will get better. 

Keep talking to your doctor till you get the right treatment plan. Try to talk to other women that have gone through it for support. Try and wear layers so you can take them off when you start to feel hot. Have a fan, have 2 fans. I even bought a portable air conditioner unit for my bedroom. 

Pop a hot water bottle in the freezer on a hot day and take it to bed or a bag of frozen peas on the back of your neck if you’re lucky enough to work from home. Have a summer duvet on your bed at night to help with night sweats. Listen to meditation videos on YouTube to help you relax before bed. Take time out for yourself and be kind to yourself it’s a difficult time in a woman’s life and not talked about enough. If you can, arrange to work from home or move your desk near to a window. Use sticky notes and reminders on your diary to help with memory problems. 

Explain to your manager about your symptoms and try to work out a support plan together. 

And most importantly talk to your friends, family and work colleagues so they understand what you are going through, and so they can support you.

More information about menopause can be found here.

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