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Menopause and Me – an honest account of what its like living with perimenopause

Posted: October 18, 2023

It’s World Menopause Day on 18 October.  The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the menopause and the support options available for improving the health and wellbeing of those experiencing it.

To mark this day, Hillcrest’s Marketing Officer Kirsty Beggs, shares an insight into what its like living with the perimenopause, and how it affects her daily life…

“Today I found myself crying at the steering wheel on my journey into work… and no…it’s not for the reasons you may be thinking…I don’t hate my job. Honest Guv’! Funnily enough it’s only now at the ripe old age of 46 that I’ve found myself in a role that I really care about and enjoy.

No, my emotional state in the car this morning was the result of something else. Something insidious. Something…hormonal.

As my levels of estrogen slowly reduce, I find myself at another point in my life where my body is changing.  The Doctor confirmed it on the phone the other day – “yes, your results are showing that you’re now in perimenopause!”

Woohooo! Yet another biological endurance test resulting from being born with XX chromosomes!

I don’t know why I was crying. The tears appeared as if from nowhere, accompanied by great heaving sighs of frustration and inexplicable sadness.

And then as quickly as the tears came, they disappeared. Within minutes I was laughing almost hysterically at a joke Zoe Ball cracked on her morning radio show.

What on earth is going on with me? Am I crazy? Why am I feeling like this and why do I feel so alone when I know there are millions of other people going through the same?

Whilst we’ve thankfully seen increased awareness and discussion around menopause and its precursor sister the perimenopause, it remains a difficult subject for people to experience and talk about.

Up to a third of women will experience severe menopausal symptoms that can impact on their daily life. Because menopausal symptoms are caused by hormonal fluctuations, these symptoms can also affect transgender men and non-binary people.

At work, menopausal people often report greater difficulty in managing symptoms and can feel embarrassed and unable to open up about their experiences, out of fear of being stigmatised.

For me, the physical and mental symptoms are rather challenging to live with. I was literally in A&E the other day with the most severe hormonal migraine of my life. It was so bad I thought I was having an aneurysm. Add to that an ever expanding waistline, brain fog and hot flushes – menopause is no joke. Please excuse me if I forget what I’m saying mid-sentence at our meeting. Oh, and pass me the fan!

Having to accept that I’m no longer able to have babies is also very hard. Not that I necessarily wanted any more children – I just don’t like the fact that it’s no longer an option. I feel all the stereotypical clichés: like I’ve passed my prime, or that I’m somewhat diminished as a human.  A now barren wasteland no longer capable of creating life.

All that being said, there are of course, the silver linings… and I’m clinging on to those with a grip similar to that of a free solo climber hanging onto a tiny precipice of rock.

To be free of my monthly menstrual cycle and related pain will be a huge relief. Finding solidarity with my similarly aged menopausal pals and having a giggle over some of the more absurd symptoms we experience is an unexpected joy. Thank goodness for the ability to find humour in our hardest lived moments.

I’d like to give credence to those from years gone by who experienced menopause in utter silence. Who were expected to shut up and put up.  Who didn’t have the tools or support that are available today. I can only imagine what that must’ve been like.

I’m glad that things are changing and to be part of an organisation that recognises the significant impact menopause can have on those experiencing it.  Hillcrest is proud to have a Menopause Policy in place, and menopause champions who are there to support any member of staff in need of support.

For anyone experiencing the symptoms of menopause, my advice is to reach out for support. Don’t suffer in silence, there is lots of help available.”