Why I love the Community Forum...
I’ve been having a think about this thing called the menopause.
And I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t afford to be menopausal anymore.
I mean – I’m adding up every product I’ve ever found and bought and used to try to overcome all the symptoms. The thing is, the symptoms just keep coming!
Before I explain, and in my defence, this menopause malarkey has gone on for far longer than I anticipated. Although really, when I say I anticipated it, I’m fibbing! I had NO CLUE what was heading my way!
When my youngest was 11 months old, I had a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding which had been pretty much continuous since he was born. Nearly 16 years later, and at almost fifty, I know that I’m not through it all yet. Which when you put it down in writing like this, should make you weep to think that even after all this time, the end is still not in sight!
How do I know that I’m not close to being done with the menopause? My nights are spent trying not to spontaneously combust over and over, in a room that even my two dogs sometimes refuse to sleep in. The windows are wide open, the temperature is as low as I can possibly get it and there are gale force winds blowing not just from the windows, but from a permanent fan in the corner of the room. Maybe it’s the meditation track playing constantly in the background that they take offence to? If I don’t have it playing, I don’t get to sleep, but when the track finishes, that sometimes wakes me up! But not playing it means I don’t fall asleep in the first place. It’s a vicious circle, and it can get all consuming!
Or perhaps it’s playing the hokey cokey, with one leg in and one leg out of the covers in a desperate bid to cool off until it’s all too apparent that there won’t be any sleep again, and there’s a shift to the living room to finish the night there.
Days are spent trying to ignore the overwhelming fatigue caused by the night time shenanigans and simply get on with the job of putting one foot in front of the other. I haven’t had a period in fifteen years, yet I get period pain. From a phantom uterus?
Everything is dry – my skin, my nails, my hair, my eyes, my vagina, my sense of humour! I’m anxious because I’m tired, and my hormone levels are all over the place. When I’m tired and stressed, I get migraines. Some days there is an overwhelming sadness that comes out of nowhere and it’s just such a slog to do anything.
I can drive the car perfectly well – but don’t put me in the passenger seat, or I turn into a blithering idiot. And I can go from happy to raging, rampaging lunatic in seconds if there is some perceived misdemeanour from a poor, unsuspecting teenage son. I mean really?! What was Mother Nature thinking putting us through the menopause at the same time we have to deal with teenage hormones? It’s a wonder we all survive!
Don’t even talk to me about the tears.
The Six O’clock News – beings me to tears. MasterChef – what a lovely steak! More crying. …. School parents’ nights – sobs!! It’s like a tap I have no control over!
I sometimes wonder, if I’d been allowed to take HRT, if my menopause story would have been different. Migraines though, meant that my GP wouldn’t even consider me for HRT, and that means that you’re pretty much out there floundering about on your own trying to find something that works.
And you’re definitely on your own. Nobody talks about the menopause. It’s not like when you’re a teenager, and you’re about to hit puberty, start periods, find out about sex. There’s a wealth of knowledge. Books, pamphlets handed out, talks at school, your friends, your mother, magazines - everyone falling over themselves to give you more information than you’ll ever need. The same a few years later when you find yourself pregnant. Suddenly as much information as you could ever want is raining down on you from doctors, midwifes, health visitors and every woman who’s ever been pregnant.
So why does it all stop when we get to the menopause stage?
And the fact that there is nothing out there, means that you get your information from the internet and the internet becomes your non-judgemental friend who knows everything. It tells you that you need black cohosh, and sage. Red clover and mung beans. Magnesium drinks. Magnesium capsules. Even magnesium rubs for aching bones and joints. Cooling pillows and scarves. Bamboo vests and knickers. Whisper quiet fans that won’t disturb your sleep. Magnets for your knickers. Magnets for your wrists. Sprays for your pillows, Cream for your temples. Fitness trackers to record just how much sleep you’re not having, and to taunt you with your recommended 7 hours a night. Shampoo to restructure your dry, menopausal hair. Creams to nourish your dry, menopausal hands. Gels and pessaries to nourish your dry and tired vagina! I know there’s more! I have bought more. I know I have. And some things have been more successful than others. I’m thinking that in the last fifteen years, I’ve spent enough money to have funded a fabulous, luxury holiday somewhere exotic (and probably too hot!) or a deposit for a house. It’s probably best not to add it all up!
The most valuable thing though, has also been found via my old friend the internet. And the best thing of all is that it’s free! This support forum with other women, all dealing with all things menopausal, is a breath of fresh air. For all the pills and potions, creams and clothes, for every single item I have bought in a desperate bid to smooth this menopause ride out, the forum has been the biggest and most successful find of all. It’s empowering to know that I’m not on my own, that there are others, just like me, who are coping with all sorts of feelings and symptoms. Whilst there will always be a place for the pills and potions, the knowledge that there is help and support, day or night, from people who just “get it” has been the best kind of treatment, and I feel immensely encouraged that the rest of this menopausal journey will be a lot smoother as a result!