Your age and stage?
I’m 55 and on the other side now – thankfully!
When did your symptoms start?
I’d say about 50 and they lasted for four years
What were your symptoms?
I got off pretty lightly compared to some of my friends, who have been having mind-blowing hot flushes for years. I didn’t really have hot flushes as such, I just felt generally hot all the time, especially at night. In fact, I still don’t seem to feel the cold and it has to be below freezing for me to put a coat on.
As editor of Woman & Home, I get to approve all the clothes the fashion editor shoots and I’ve really curbed the knitwear. Fashion stylists love to shoot sweaters but how many women over 50 wear chunky jumpers and cowl necks? Not many I can tell you! My symptoms were more emotional and I also got quite achy joints.
I experienced two years of low level anxiety – a general feeling of life not being great and fear about the future.
What was the most challenging thing to deal with?
I experienced two years of low level anxiety – a general feeling of life not being great and fear about the future. There is still a lack of information around menopause so at the time I didn’t link my feelings to hormonal changes.
We all know about hot flushes but there are lots of other symptoms, too. I also felt full of rage and my temper would flare up at the drop of a hat. I’m normally a fairly calm person but when I was menopausal a queue at a supermarket checkout would send me into meltdown. I once told my husband to “fucking Google the menopause” when he asked me what was wrong. Charming!
Were there any positive symptoms?
I know it’s always good to find the positive in things but no not really. Not having periods is pretty good once you’re through it though.
What got you through?
I didn’t see a doctor about my symptoms but being outside really helped my anxiety. Taking the dogs out for a long walk and being in nature whatever the weather is good for your head.
What advice did you seek?
Because I work on a magazine aimed at older women, we talk a lot about menopause and sharing information with other women is so helpful. If I’d known my anxiety was linked to menopause when I was experiencing it, I probably would have been more proactive about dealing with it.
The best advice you received?
Through talking to other women, I now realise that GPs aren’t always menopause experts and it’s worth insisting on more specialist help if you’re having a bad time.
What you wish you’d known?
You don’t have to just put up with inner rage – my family probably wish I’d known that too!
The impact on your daily life?
Anxiety made me lose confidence for a while and that’s difficult in the workplace. A friend of mine describes having a hot flush in the boardroom as one of the worse moments in her career. It would be great if we could all openly ring up work and say, “I won’t be in today because I’m having terrible hot flushes” in the same way teenage girls get out of PE when they’ve got their period.
What you’d do differently?
I would go to a menopause specialist to discuss my anxiety.
This is the best time in history to be a midlife woman. All that business about feeling invisible past a certain age is a thing of the past.
What you say to other women about the menopause?
Read as much as you can and talk to other women. We need to get all the facts out in the open so it’s not a taboo anymore. I read a brilliant frank piece by Caryn Franklyn and also Andrea McLean has written a very honest book on the subject that’s very reassuring.
Your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?
This is the best time in history to be a midlife woman. Yes the menopause can be tricky but we’re more informed about it than ever before and the healthcare is there if we look for it. All that business about feeling invisible past a certain age is a thing of the past and women are having adventures and living their best lives past 60 and beyond.
Your menopause was…
…a bit of a pain but I got through it by walking the dogs and avoiding knitwear.
You feel MPowered when…
…I talk and laugh with other women.