When did you first start experiencing menopausal symptoms?
I first started experiencing symptoms a few years ago, but I didn’t know it was the menopause at the time. I never experienced hot flushes, which is perhaps the most typical sign of the menopause but I experienced nearly every other symptom out there. I was extremely anxious, I had terrible joint pain, migraines and fatigue; I generally felt like I was just falling apart.
I didn’t know much about the menopause and so I didn’t assume that my symptoms were connected with being perimenopausal. I thought of a million other different reasons for why I was feeling the way I did: cancer, sickness, pregnancy(!) and just plain going mad. My GP wasn’t particularly helpful either. At first, he prescribed me anti-depressants, which I didn’t feel was right for me as I wasn’t depressed.
I started doing a bit more research and found out that everything I was feeling was a symptom of the menopause. It shocked me how little I knew, and how dismissive my GP was. After a bit of persuading and proving I had done my research, I was finally prescribed HRT, which has helped a lot.
How did you cope with the changes, physically and mentally?
The more informed I became, the more I was able to help myself. For example, changing my diet, cutting out sugar and committing to an exercise routine has helped me a lot. The menopause can be a scary time because all of a sudden, you feel like you’re somebody else. But the more we all talk about it, the more we can realise that it’s just a phase in life that we can get through.
I’ve been able to launch MegsMenopause.com which in itself has been so inspiring as I’ve connected with so many women that went through the exact same thing as I did. It’s really important that we get the right information out there in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand, and hearing all the positive feedback from women who have learned more about the menopause through MegsMenopause is incredible. It’s nice and comforting to know you’re not alone and that there is a community out there that is supportive, understanding and going through exactly what you’re going through.
What symptom did you find the most challenging?
Anxiety was the hardest I’d say. It just stops you from living your day-to-day life. It came on really suddenly because everything in my life was fine and yet I felt completely overwhelmed. I cancelled plans, I wouldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t eat – it was so debilitating. Physical symptoms are a little bit easier to cope with as you have a better sense of why you feel that way and what you can do to feel better. But mental symptoms are trickier – they feel harder to overcome. On top of that, my anxiety made me worry so much more about every other symptom I was experiencing, which made me feel even worse. It was like a never-ending nightmare! What has helped the most is CBD oil, which I take daily, and is now available on my site.
How has your life improved, if at all, post menopause?
I think I found a sense of reward going through something difficult, confusing, and painful, and coming out of it stronger. For a long time, the challenges that the menopause brought felt impossible to get through, but with honest conversation and a lot of research, I picked myself up and got through it. I feel proud that I put my health and wellbeing, both mental and physical, first.
What would be your top tip for other women going through the same?
Don’t give up! It’s completely normal (and inevitable) to experience the menopause, and to feel like your mind is all over the place and your body is out of your control. It will pass, because your body will eventually adjust to the different hormone levels. I have a tattoo on my chest with my favourite quote: “This too shall pass”. When you feel at your worst, remind yourself that this is just a period of time that will pass and that you are not going insane. It helped me to open up and talk about it, so I try to encourage women to do the same if they feel like it’ll help them. As much as it’s nice to hear from your partner or family that they are there to support you and help you, it’s sometimes even more reassuring to hear someone say, “I’m feeling the exact same way and it’s horrible!” But we’ll all get through it, so it’s best to focus on that rather than focusing on how awful you feel in the moment.