Menopause & Me: Milly Whitehead

milly-travel-woods-2
Milly is the director of volunteer travel business The Leap. She leads volunteering adventures around the world for groups of midlifers who want time to reboot their batteries.

What is your age and stage?

I am 49 and very peri-menopausal.

When did your symptoms start and what were they?

In 2018. It was like the Grim Reaper – one day I was a functioning human being, the next I couldn’t remember my own name, started getting acute anxiety and wept every time Chris Evans played a sad song.

What has been the most challenging thing to deal with?

Waking up every morning with an acute feeling of anxiousness, dread and foreboding whilst working behind a happy face.

Have there been any positive symptoms?

Weight loss and getting 101 jobs done as my adrenaline is flying.

What are the things that are getting you through?

Every holistic remedy going, I own every remedy, tincture known to man. Cupboards are bulging, purse is empty.

One day I was a functioning human being, the next I couldn’t remember my own name and wept every time Chris Evans played a sad song

What has made the biggest difference?

Friendship and laughter – dark humour with my girlfriends always lighten the mood.

Did you seek any advice from experts, friends or family?

Advice from friends and the doctor.

What was the advice you received?

Nothing earth shattering just reassuring.

Is there anything you wish you’d known?

That my anxiety was hormonally driven and I wasn’t losing my mind. I was confused as to how a once capable human being could become so forgetful and anxious overnight.

What has been the impact on your daily life?

The impact of the anxiety has been huge. It started in line with business stresses so I assumed it was all work related and I was needing to review my work life balance. I was getting more and more anxious and losing confidence. There were times when I was sitting in a meeting focusing only on my tightening chest, thinking “am I having a heart attack?”.

Has there been an impact on your relationships?

My husband is mindful that I am highly likely going to forget everything he has just asked me to do, leave the house open, forget where I parked the car or lose the dog. It has had a positive impact on my friendships as we need each other more than ever and talk openly about where we are at. Talking openly at work has also helped as my team have decided it is easier to finish my sentences and make me a sandwich.

There were times when I was sitting in a meeting focusing only on my tightening chest, thinking “am I having a heart attack?”

Is there anything you’d do differently?

I wish I had understood that the anxiety was due to hormones and not because I was having a work induced nervous breakdown BUT it has been a journey of self-discovery and I wouldn’t have taken the business in another direction had I not experienced what I did. Last year I decided to take my anxiety on a Midlife leap (literally) with a group of girlfriends to the desert in Namibia. Together we trekked, laughed and contributed to hands on conservation, helping create a new National Park which will soon protect the endangered rhino. It was the start of something brilliant and as a result Midlife Leap has become part of our travel business. I now lead groups of Midlifers on volunteering adventurers around the world. Utter heaven. It is the best kind of therapy: Life affirming experiences which reset and invigorate my soul.

What do you say to other women about the menopause?

Put your girlfriends on speed dial.

What are your thoughts on this time of a woman’s life?

Having travelled with so many midlife women this year, I say we all rock. We are a strong generation who want adventure and want to be defined by our own merits. We are talking, sharing and with that comes compassion and kindness, making the whole transition easier to manage.

Your menopause was…

I’m still perimenopausal but so far it’s been life changing for me. It’s forced me down a dark hole but also made me change direction, reshape my future and as a result improve my life. In a way I have to thank the perimenopause for where I am now.

You feel MPowered when…

I am leading a group of fantastic women on adventures and challenges across the globe – empowering their own self-belief and remembering who we truly are.

If you’d like to join Milly on a Midlife Leap, find out more at theleap.co.uk/midlife


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