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It’s World Menopause Day on 18 October 2022, and Hillcrest is proud to publish a series of blog articles that shed a light on the experience and impact of menopause, not only on an individual’s mental and social well being, but on that of their working life.
Here, Pam Law, Housing Officer at Hillcrest Homes, shares a candid account of her experiences of going through the ‘big change’ and how it has affected her working life.
What kind of menopause symptoms are you experiencing and are you on any kind of treatment?
I suffered from premenstrual tension (PMT) badly until I was put on an intrauterine device when I was in my 40s. Fortunately this gave me enough oestrogen and it delayed my menopause until 57/58years old, which was great.
Not long after my last menstrual cycle, months after the device was removed, I would sleep badly, with hot flushes starting from my feet going up to my scalp. I often found I could not make decisions where before I was confident enough with my role and our procedures, suddenly I was questioning even the most basic things. Then, when I felt embarrassed, this made my hot flushes worse, my face going red and feeling like everyone was noticing (when in reality they weren’t!). My anxiety was heightened, I would try to put off seeing friends, and I’m lucky so many stuck with me when I kept refusing to go anywhere. At work, I feared going to meetings – I felt trapped in the room, like I couldn’t think straight and sometimes felt like my brain was full of cotton wool. I also experienced weight gain, which was hard to lose, as I would often comfort eat. Or maybe that was just an excuse!
Does it affect your ability to work effectively and if so what kind of affect does it have?
Definitely, although I’m lucky to work with some wonderful colleagues at
Hillcrest, who have been very supportive and understanding. At times I’ve had to ask f
or help from our Mental Health First Aider, and he was absolutely wonderful, pulling me from the black hole I sometimes found myself in. Not being a coach or therapist, rather just listening and not judging me and giving me permission to feel the way I felt, enabling me to develop my own tools to cope and get stronger.
Are there any positives to menopause?
The end of my menstrual cycle!
What kind of support has Hillcrest offered you?
Hillcrest’s menopause policy puts in place a strategy of compassion and support, and this helps me to feel that I’m understood, listened to and recognised. It feels good to be able to talk about menopause and to share my experiences with others. Having the Mental Health First Aiders to talk to is great, as menopause can make your personality change and really impact on your confidence.
Fortunately, through such supportive measures, I was still able to carry out my role as Housing Officer to the best of my ability.
How can we reframe the notion that menopause is a taboo subject and shift the idea of this being a women-only issue to an organisational issue?
Having training and awareness sessions at conferences, or a topic at team meetings now and again, having info and open chat forums on our intranet. Making it clear to colleagues (male and female!) from early on that they have people they can talk to. Maybe we could establish some Menopause First Aiders, to help encourage others going through the menopause to open up about their feelings and find solidarity and comfort in the shared experience.