Finally, menopause is out there on social media, and it is no longer a taboo subject – remember, it impacts half the population.
Menopause is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and as a runner, I know all too well how to prepare for a run like this. I am only 18 months in and already thinking when will I cross the finish line?
My menopause journey started the day of my hysterectomy. Headfirst, no natural leadup with perimenopause, just straight into medically-induced menopause at the age of 40. It has been a complex journey; I’m having to relearn and be in tune with my body. As a long-time sufferer of endometriosis, I got to know what my pain, flare-ups, cravings, and moods all meant.
Menopause means a time of learning, growth, and change. It is uncomfortable not knowing how your body is now working and what various niggles here and there all mean. No one tells you that your eyes will no longer lubricate the way used to and that you will have to use a moisture gel, or that you enter the world of bone density scans and mammograms. The eyes not lubricating has taken me by surprise and hit me the hardest of all, for some reason that I’m still exploring, and these days a tube of eye gel comes with me everywhere.
As strange as this all sounds, I do miss having my period. It was that commonality, a way to bond with girlfriends over period pain and chocolate cravings. Now, being the first in my circle of friends to go through menopause, it can be isolating. Trying to explain a hot flush, chronic fatigue, and brain fog to someone who hasn’t experienced them makes it hard to relate, especially trying to explain what a hot flush is like in the dead of winter (no it doesn’t keep you warm when it is cold outside).
Menopause isn’t all bad, as I said earlier, it is a time of regrowth, learning, and reflection. A time to take stock of my life and figure out what is next. So I went back to university and decided to take on the masters degree I always yearned to do but held back due to my endo. It is not easy juggling a masters, full-time work, and menopause (that sounds exhausting just typing it). There are times when I am completely exhausted and want to sleep, yet an assignment is due, or it is Monday and I need to be at work after an entire weekend spent studying. Chronic fatigue and brain fog is real. At one point I was so overwhelmed with chronic fatigue and I was exhausted and had a heavy workload, so I reached out to an academic for advice on how to manage it all… their advice was, to get a good night’s sleep. If only it was that easy! I have learnt to pace myself and listen to the body. If that means I cannot study after work and I may only spend 10 hours a week on it, then that’s what I must do. I can only mange to do what I can each day.
Experimenting with different Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) approaches has meant that I am now a little closer to understanding the changes that are occurring in my body:
The patch heightened my allergies, and after 7 days of wearing one I would have to apply cortisone cream straight away.
The tablets are an easier option, but let’s be honest, who wants to take a multitude of tablets each morning? It’s hard enough remembering to take my calcium, vitamin D, collagen, and iron each day! (And even then, I can forget.)
Thank goodness for the hormonal gel! It’s easy to remember and I just use in-between applications of the many serums for my face each day – I line them up in order each morning and all I can think is how many products do I use every day just to maintain the youthfulness, I am vain!
As a runner, I know how long a half marathon will take me, and that I have all the time in the world to work through the next journey of menopause, I cannot rush this.
I will sit in the uncomfortable space of the change, knowing that growth is always a good thing, and that this means, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and menopause will pass.
Finally, menopause is out there on social media, and it is no longer a taboo subject – remember, it impacts half the population. Here’s Jadie’s story of medically-induced menopause.