We spoke to reader Katie Taylor about her experience of the menopause.
My name is Katie Taylor. I am 49 years old.
I have been happily married for 24 years (it’s our silver wedding anniversary in January 2019!) I have four children (a 21 year old daughter and 3 sons who are 19, 16, 14) and a little cavachon pup named Bobbie. My background is in PR and Marketing. I used to work for a couple of PR agencies pre-kids. After kids I worked in-house for 3 different charities running their comms and fundraising activities.
I first noticed symptoms when I was 43 years old. I felt very low for no apparent reason, had brain fog, couldn’t think straight, very teary, exhausted, anxious, put on a lot of weight, didn’t want to socialise or leave the house much and just lost all self confidence. My periods were becoming slightly erratic and at times very heavy and lasting for 3 days. At other times, they would be lighter but last longer.
I felt so much better within a month of the treatment and I came off the anti-depressants a couple of months later.
My GP offered me anti-depressants and CBT on and off for a couple of years and kept saying that it was probably low level depression. Luckily my father, Professor Michael Baum is an eminent breast cancer surgeon (retired now) and he suggested that I go and see one of his colleagues at UCH. She diagnosed Perimenopause and started me on HRT immediately. I felt so much better within a month of the treatment and I came off the anti-depressants a couple of months later. I felt like I had been robbed of 4 years of good life as I am back to my old self now. I have so much energy and am so much happier. I did end up having to have a full hysterectomy in November as the adenomyosis was causing the heavy bleeding and I also developed oedema in my legs (all related).
Not one of my friends or family had ever mentioned perimenopause and so it was a total surprise for me. In my head, the menopause was at 52 plus and when your periods stopped so I just thought as I was juggling four kids and running a home and a job and that it was too much for me.
It was such a taboo subject: people were embarrassed to talk about it and nobody could relate to it so I set up a Facebook group called the Latte Lounge (top tips for women over 40, like a virtual coffee shop) to see if anyone else was going through similar symptoms and within a year we had over 10,000 members (now 12k). It has been the best kind of therapy for me as every one relates to each other and we all really support each other and because it’s a women’s only group, we are all much more open with each other. We don’t just talk about perimenopause/menopause, we also talk about everything to do with being part of the sandwich generation – juggling and bringing up our kids to looking after our elderly parents plus looking after ourselves be it health, fitness, beauty, fashion, going back to work or retraining, finance, marriage anything a midlife woman needs help with.
…women feel they should just get on with it and suffer in silence, blaming it on other things along the way.
Up until now there hasn’t been the right support for women like us. GPs are given minimal training on the menopause and almost nothing on perimenopause so they often misdiagnose women with depression when they should be offering HRT or equivalent. And women feel they should just get on with it and suffer in silence, blaming it on other things along the way. Through the group I can signpost our members to people like Dr Louise Newson, and I have linked our group to The Menopause Support Network run by Diane Danzebrink and many other people/places as I have put together a medical and legal advisory team now. I get tonnes of private messages at night too from desperate women who need all sorts of support.
Today I am launching the group’s website which will have over 20 midlife bloggers, a directory of members’ recommendations, a discounts and offers page and a jobs board. It will be the landing page for the Facebook group to begin with. I’m also trying to set up a group of scientists with my father to look outside the box at women’s health, in particular women’s cancer research and through our group try and fundraise for them so I can in some way carry on my father’s baton, helping women all over the country and the world. So what started off as a very tough time has now provided me with a platform to help as many mid-life women as possible and a full time job that I love, enjoy and am incredibly proud of. All I need now is an investor who believes in me and my vision so I can really start to bring my vision to life!
I met Meg at the Sylk evening and was so proud of her for also speaking out and helping break the taboo. I have even written a little book, which I gave Meg, full of my midlife humorous and poignant blogs that I write each month for the group – The ‘Not So Secret Diary’ of a Midlife Menopausal Mum (available on Amazon).