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Your Stories: Charlene Downer

I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2012 after many years of being diagnosed with IBS.  

It was a condition that had a huge effect on my life both physically and mentally. I tried several different treatments, namely two laprioscapys to remove the endometriosis, a coil, hormone injections and after they all failed my only alternative was to have a total hysterectomy in 2015. This then immediately threw me into the menopause at 1000mph!

The worst symptom for me was the anxiety and lack sleep…

I woke up from my surgery with HRT in my system as I had medically and superficially been put into the menopause. I had tried to prepare myself mentally for the changes my body would go through, but I was not prepared for the physical! The hot flushes, the mood swings, itchy skin, irritableness, tearfulness, anxiety, weight gain, insomnia, low confidence, self-doubt. All of these things where new to me and I felt like I was going mad! The worst symptom for me was the anxiety and lack sleep, also the weight gain made me feel even worse about myself so in turn affected my confidence even more. I constantly felt I wasn’t good enough for anyone.

I was back and forth to my GP and to the gynaecologist who tried me on several types of HRT, patches, pills, etc and was constantly told that because my body was in an “artificial menopause” the effects were probably worse than someone whose body had naturally progressed into menopause. I felt like the GP did not understand me and even tried to say I was depressed and offer me anti-depressants which I declined!

 If a woman is pregnant, they have so many other people to talk to about the experiences, good and bad, I had no one who could understand.

I had lots of support from my husband and immediate family and three very close friends, but I lost “friends” who didn’t seem to understand what I was going through and got irritated with me if I cancelled plans as I felt so anxious about going out. I also lost the job I was in at the time because I had little concentration and felt so low at times I rang in sick. I felt like no one understood me and because I had no one else I knew who was going through it, I had no one who got it. If a woman is pregnant, they have so many other people to talk to about the experiences, good and bad, I had no one who could understand.

It did get better though, I finally found the right HRT for me and things improved. I am not totally symptom free and I still have some days where I feel I am mental but these are less and less. I also lost all of the weight I gained through hard work and exercise and this has helped my confidence. I am lucky to have a husband who supports me and I can be crazy with.

There is definitelyΒ not enough awareness for menopausal women of all ages, but especially ladies who are younger or have had the menopause brought on artificially for them. I would love to help just one person feel better and tell them that there is light at the end of long, dark tunnel and they aren’t alone. I hope in me speaking out, it might do that. Thank you for listening to me.