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Your Stories: Sally Elway

Sally shares her experience with us.

So, to begin with I just thought maybe I was depressed.

Low mood, as I put it, to myself, anyway. You see I had never suffered the trauma of post-natal depression or PMT. I used to laugh at my friends and tell them to get a grip when they moaned about only being ‘normal’ for 2 weeks out of 4. So tell anyone I was feeling down was too much for me to admit or talk about.

Dragging myself out of bed on some days and putting in a half-hearted shift at work, hoping and praying that no-one would bug me today because, to be honest, I literally felt like killing them.

Luckily a lot of my time was spent lone working. I started to avoid the team meetings or briefings at head office, making sure I knew when they were and arranging an afternoon off. Anything to stop me having to speak to people.

…when I got back I just felt deflated and emotional, crying at the drop of a hat.

Then things started to get a lot worse. We went on holiday, just what I needed I thought. Two weeks in the sun in Mexico. Lucky me. I took along a pile of books and a journal and started to plan a new life for me when I got back. But, when I got back I just felt deflated and emotional, crying at the drop of a hat. I booked a GP appointment and on the day of the appointment I walked out of my office, never to return, not that I knew that at the time. I sat and cried in the GP’s office. So unlike me. Was I embarrassed? You bet I was, but she listened I gave her a list of my symptoms, because there were quite a few. She signed me off straight away stating ‘perimenopausal depression’. She prescribed anti-depressants.

Now all of this is fine. I was so relieved not to have to go to work and face everyone that I was happy to pop the pills. She also suggested I ring up the ‘Let’s Talk’ service, which I did and use this as a therapy. The truth of the matter is I was going through the menopause and nobody seemed to know how to treat it or what to do and they still don’t. It appears that you just have to find out stuff for yourself and keep on going back to the GP with your new ideas or new moans.

My list of symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Joint pain
  • Low mood
  • Brain fog
  • Itching skin
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Non-existent libido
  • Unable to sleep
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of energy
  • Possible vaginal prolapse

I find that I am a constant now at the surgery. I never see the same doctor and each time I go they look at me when I mention the menopause. They don’t seem to know anything about it.

Q. Is there a menopause clinic in the area I could be referred to?
A. Well I don’t think so.
Q. I am suffering a lot of joint pain, I wouldn’t mind but I’m 56 not 76 what can it be?
A. Well I’m not sure.

I’ve had blood tests done for most things. After the anti-depressants (I finished with those) I was put on HRT, this was for my joint pain and I have just been put on to another sort of HRT. This has improved my symptoms, but I don’t feel I am ‘right’.

Weight gain and tolerance to alcohol are just two other joys to contend with. I have recently spent a waste of a Sunday getting over a few glasses of prosecco at a friend’s dinner party when I used to be able to drink for England. Lifestyle change is just one of the adjustments I am having to make in this new stage of my life.

I have told my grown-up daughters everything and I will be there for them if this happens to them, because I have a feeling this isn’t going to go away. I don’t want them to suffer alone as I have. I had no idea this was coming and find it difficult to cope with, but I will cope with it and will continue to seek the right treatment. I understand that for some women the menopause is not an issue. When I told my mum about my problems she just laughed and said, “Oh all I had was a big bleed and then that was that.” Bless her she’s always been such a comfort!

I’m in the prime of my life and I intend to live it to the full.

Younger women don’t care because let’s face it you don’t until you are going through the murder of it. Male doctors don’t care because, well they’re male. And, at the end of the day, this won’t last forever and then even the sufferers forget and move on. Well I’m not moving on. I will never forget how this has made me feel and I’m not through with it yet. It has changed me. I used to be fit and well and full of energy and vitality. I’m like a shell of the person I used to be and I’m really fed up with it. I need to carry on finding the right treatment. I’m in the prime of my life and I intend to live it to the full.

It’s websites like Meg’s that make me realise I’m not alone. The fight continues for recognition and to be taken seriously.