We sat down with our founder Meg Mathews.
Team MM: When did you experience your first symptoms?
MM: For me it all started on 1st January 2016. I just remember waking up that day and feeling completely out of sorts. The worst part was that I had no idea what was going on or what was happening to me. I have a furniture company and my business partners phoned to tell me that our new collection was now in Selfridge’s, Liberty and Harvey Nichols. Instead of feeling excited I felt completely flat and empty. Days and weeks passed and I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling; in fact, I started to feel even worse. It got to the point where my anxiety attacks became so severe that they stopped me leaving the house. In just a very short space of time, I went from being a fun-loving, outgoing person to feeling drained by anxiety. Every day was just so hard. One of the worst things about anxiety is that it stops you from doing things you used to take for granted, like going out or meeting up with friends. You end up making excuses because even the thought of having to get ready, of going out and socialising is quite overwhelming. It made me feel isolated, even more alone.
Team MM: What did you think was causing your low mood and anxiety?
MM: That’s the scary part: I had no idea what was causing it and I was at loss to explain it to anyone else. I visited my GP and he immediately prescribed me anti-depressants. I didn’t think that was the right answer for me and so after the appointment, I started researching. At my next appointment, I told him what I thought and he asked me if I had been experiencing sore joints or muscle stiffness. I said that I had and that I had also been having migraines, tender breasts and waves of nausea. He told me that I might be entering the menopause.
Team MM: How did that make you feel?
MM: To be honest I was quite surprised because I had never associated those symptoms with the menopause. So I decided to do some research. I learnt that there are more than 34 different symptoms. And every woman has a different combination of symptoms in varying degrees. For me the most overwhelming ones were anxiety, night sweats and a lack of libido. I went back to my GP armed with research and asked for a blood test. The results confirmed that my hormone levels were abnormal. That was my moment of realisation: I was in the menopause.
Team MM: What did you do next?
MM: The best thing I could have done: talked about it. I sat down individually with my daughter Anaïs, my then-partner and my business partners and explained to each of them that I was going through the menopause and what that meant in simple terms. I asked them to put any strange or unusual behaviour down to the menopause.
Team MM: How did that conversation go? What was their reaction?
MM: They were all very supportive and understanding. My partner read all about the menopause and bought me herbal teas for the symptoms. Although I knew that they may not fully understand what I was going through, it was very important that they knew in any case. I have had to learn that it’s far better to be open and honest about the way I’m feeling than to put on a fake smile and pretend that everything is fine. The people that love you will support you no matter what.
Team MM: What advice would you give to other women experiencing symptoms?
MM: Know yourself and be persistent. If you have been feeling out of sorts and you are experiencing a few different symptoms, don’t just settle for a course of anti-depressants. Look up your symptoms, do your own research and if you think that you may be approaching the menopause, visit your GP and be firm. The blood test will measure your hormone levels and thyroid activity, among other things. If the results are positive, then the next step is to find the best treatment for you. One therapy may work wonders for someone else but it may not necessarily be the best thing for you so take your time before selecting a course of treatment.
I would strongly suggest asking your GP for a referral to an NHS menopause clinic. I didn’t even know they existed until a friend told me about them. They are a fantastic and free alternative to private clinics. If you do decide to go private, do bear in mind that treatment for the menopause is not covered by the majority of private healthcare providers as it is not considered an illness. To put this into perspective, a hormone test alone will be in the region of £700. So weigh up the cost, before going private.
Team MM: What has this life experience taught you?
MM: When I realised just how many women were going through the same thing in silence and without any real support, I realised I wanted to contribute. That’s why I launched this website and why I’m working on a range of products to help with the symptoms of the menopause. All women will eventually go through the menopause. Some will have a bad time of it and some may not even notice that they are going through it. The important thing for each woman to know is that you do not have to face this alone. We are a sisterhood. No matter what your experience, who you are or what walk of life you come from, we are all in this together. The menopause is not the end of our world.
UP NEXT: 8 QUESTIONS WITH ANAïS GALLAGHER
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