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Me and the Menopause

Update from August 2018…

Well that’s it – the end of my summer 10k season. Oh, and a little half marathon!

There have been a few challenges; the summer heat (not that I am complaining as I love the sun, just not on race day), the anxiety and the voice that says maybe you will be last this time or maybe it’s time to give up. Oh, and last but not least the outfit! Please, please will someone design a breathable top that doesn’t cling to my new found menopausal lumps and bumps.

I am beating the battle against anxiety with sheer determination. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ has never been more poignant than during this running session but every step I have run is a step to holding on to who I am and what I have been determined to achieve. I have done that with the support of my partner, friends family and my colleagues. I am lucky to work for Community Links where well-being is at its core.

So I have done it – run 4 10ks and taken on Leeds half which many fear. It may not have been fast or glamorous but it was very satisfying.

So here I am the Menopausal runner. What ever is getting you through challenging times embrace it and celebrate your achievements. My next challenge is the Abbey Dash. I won’t be dashing but I will be smiling as I cross the line what ever my time.

One day I was full of energy, mild mannered (although my partner may not agree with that one), could walk into a room and remember what I went in for, and slept through the night. The next I was having hot flushes, experiencing anxiety, become an insomniac and calling my kids by the wrong name!! Well, it wasn’t quite that quick, but it felt that way.

What had happened I hear you ask? I will tell you – the menopause.

I am not sure I believed in the menopause before it became my new challenge. I knew about hot flushes, but how hard could that be to deal with?  And I would gain weight. Well, I would just eat less and exercise more. I was less aware of the emotional impact:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Feeling you can’t cope
  • Depression

Any one of these can impact on home and work life, and yet they are rarely talked about. Maybe because it’s a taboo issue that is masked with humour. Don’t get me wrong I am all for humour, I will be getting my tickets for Menopause the Musical but we need to ensure humour doesn’t mask the real issues.

Surveys have found that some women going through the menopause are less likely to go for a promotion, feel that they are been left behind, and trust in their abilities. Mood swings, fatigue and low self-esteem can impact on even the strongest of relationships.

So, as I travel on my menopausal journey, I wanted to raise some awareness and encourage anyone on the same journey to speak out and ask for help. Find what works for you: medication, exercise, yoga, CBT, time out. And remember, you don’t have to hide away. Your symptoms are real, don’t keep them hidden. There is help out there. Speak to your GP, friends and family, work colleagues and most importantly be kind to yourself.

I am Hazel, aged 53, embracing the menopause!!! I may get a little flushed on occasion in meetings, I may be a bit more emotionally driven, but I can run further and faster than when I was 43, I am still ambitious and still love wearing my jeans and converse.

Hazel, Operational Manager