How the menopause affected my mental health
Gillian blogs about coping with the menopause and successfully rebuilding her life.
I started the perimenopause aged 42, and the symptoms increased during the following 6 years. I hadn’t had children naturally – my three beautiful sons, now adults, are all adopted. I’d always had regular periods and been lucky not to suffer badly. Suddenly they were heavy, with bad Pre-Menstrual Syndrome and increasing discomfort, sometimes lasting weeks. Then the real fun started. Poor sleep – I’d wake with my heart racing or my bladder fizzing.
As the menopause closed in, I often felt very low. My anxiety levels were through the roof. I ached, I was nauseous. I went to the doctors a couple of times. Once when I was worried about bleeding and lower back pain but was reassured by a scan. And once when the anxiety was very high.
My 2 younger boys are both non-verbal autistic, and as a carer mum, I struggled at times. My husband worked away a lot and I lived away from my family. I could feel quite isolated. Having lost my mum in my 30s, I think I would have sold my soul for a phone call at this point.
Reaching out for help
My husband and I separated after 28 years and my life was turned upside down. My middle son with learning difficulties also hit a really bad time, non verbal, 16 and hormones raging. I felt at my lowest physically and mentally. I tried so hard to value who I was, but it proved impossible. After an incident with my son, a wonderful teacher at his school told me to go to the doctors immediately and not leave till I got help.
I was prescribed antidepressants which I took for 18 months and then came off under GP supervision. I also had some counselling, and very slowly started to feel myself again. My friends and family were so supportive and I feel incredibly lucky to have had that. I made sure I did things for me, from the simplest things like walking my dog to a glass of wine and a good old natter with friends. I even dated. Dear lord it was a whole new world out there!
"I'm 53, post menopausal and feel in the best shape of my life mentally. I'm my own fairytale ending."
Having retrained as a counsellor, I then applied at the ripe old age of 52 to do my first degree, in psychology. I love my counselling work. It’s so varied, but I have worked with a lot of menopausal women who are struggling. It’s become a passion of mine, and I’m making plans to start a support group. I want to finish my degree and do a doctorate.
I’m 53, post menopausal and feel in the best shape of my life mentally. I’m my own fairytale ending.
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