One in three women will breeze through the menopause. They won’t suffer any side effects or notice any real change to their state of mind or their bodies. They will reach the age of around 65 and other than not having periods any more they will feel just the same as when they were 25 – maybe just a bit slower and a bit more wrinkly (ha-ha!).
One in three women will suffer from menopausal symptoms so extreme that they have to give up their job, face a breakdown in their relationship, lose friends, lose themselves. Some will even commit suicide. Some women are misinformed, uninformed, misdiagnosed, not helped.
One in three women will suffer from mild symptoms; have to take the odd day off; need to talk to their partner about what they are going through; make small adjustments to their life or their routines to enable them to carry on as normally as possible.
No woman can know which of these groups she is going to fall into until the time comes. Some women think that talking about the menopause is pointless – we all have to go through it so just get on with it. I suspect that they haven’t got to this stage yet or they are fortunate enough to find themselves in group 1. Some women think that their attitude to menopause, their healthy lifestyle, body type, genetics, are all reasons why they are not “suffering”. They may well be right. I’m happy for them.
All this week, the BBC are running a series of features on the menopause, talking to various health professionals, women who are going through it and looking at how things need to improve for women in respect of getting advice/treatment/help and promoting more awareness in the workplace. Some of the horror stories I have heard make me feel very grateful. It is proving to be very interesting and is very timely. It’s great to have menopause as a hot topic just as I am starting my own “journey” (awful expression). I promise I am not going to become a bore on the subject, but I am keen to learn as much as possible.
I am lucky that my GP is very well informed. She is a similar age to me, I have been seeing her on and off since T was born and she knows my history with PND. She is sympathetic, understanding, helpful. She has given me great advice, suggested treatment and continues to monitor me. I am also lucky that I have a great boss whose wife has experienced issues and who is very understanding, allowing me to work from home whenever I need/want to; asking if there is anything he can do to help, without suffocating me with kindness. K is learning. I have talked to him about how I feel some days. I’ve given him info to read and he is being the most caring that he has ever been in our 23 years together. More so than when I had the PND. Back then we had 2 small children to contend with and he just didn’t have the capacity to cope with a wife who was suffering. At this stage of our lives, if I don’t feel like cooking, can’t cope with stuff, don’t want to go out, it doesn’t really matter. He is not left holding the baby (literally) while I weep in a corner (truly, that rarely happens; the not cooking, hmm, more so). It’s manageable.
I am lucky. I am glad to be finding my way through this. No, I am not in group 1, but I wouldn’t want to be. Yes, it’s all a bit shit some days when I am foggy and tired and can’t be arsed to do anything but watch TV. Yes, it’s a bit shit that I am more irritable (more than usual – I know, hard to believe isn’t it?) and even more intolerant (again, unbelievable) and find myself needing to leave the room when someone is eating a bag of crisps and licking EVERY SINGLE ONE of their sodding fingers with a very audible slurp in the process – god give me strength. Yes, it’s a bit shit to have to double-check and triple-check everything I do when I am having a foggy day and then apologising for missing stuff despite all the checking.
Yes, I am lucky, even though I am not in group 1. Because hopefully I will have more empathy; be a better friend; appreciate the little things more. It’s not all shit. Some days it’s actually quite exciting. It’s making me try new things, be more daring – I am contemplating a bit of “wild” swimming with a friend as we’ve heard it can do wonders – thanks again to the reporting on the BBC. I am getting fitter because I can’t stop walking; I am way more conscious of my diet because I am determined not to put on any more weight than I can help. I’ve streamlined my wardrobe and now only wear things that I feel OK in. I’m even thinking of getting another tattoo.
It’s not all shit.
I think that may well just become my new motto.