Life begins at 40… Well, I’m not sure about that but my menopause story certainly began then.
Although I didn’t know it at the time.
2 years into my marriage and things took a dramatic downward spiral.
We had been living on Orkney for 4 years but had an enforced move back to my home city, Aberdeen after my husband had to switch his diving career for health reasons.
After 4 years of Orkney life – and Orkney work, I had been away from the type of work I’d been doing most of my life for some time and found it difficult to get back into. So, I did some temping work until a suitable permanent job came up.
Even when it did, it was at a much lower level than I’d wanted. That said, I embraced the opportunity to step down and have a less stressful working situation.
However, as the job was fairly basic, it didn’t take long for me to get bored, lose interest and lose motivation.
I started making mistakes (not something I was used to at work), forgetting things and taking time off for things I’d normally have battled through so as not to let anyone down.
I didn’t care anymore.
I wrote it all off to being depressed that I was in a job I didn’t want, that I was unmotivated because there was no challenge. Looking back, I now realise this was the beginning of my menopause journey. Eventually, I was so miserable that I ended up being signed off with depression and anxiety.
Ultimately, I was let go as I couldn’t get myself up and make the effort to go back. It just seemed pointless. This then brought on the downturn in my marriage.
My husband was very conventional and rather lacking in emotional sensitivity. He refused to understand my ‘illness’ and started to resent me for sitting at home all day. He simply couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get another job.
I didn’t want another job!
I wanted to sleep all day, avoid people like the plague and disappear from the world.
At this point, I had been ‘joking’ that my symptoms were menopausal but like so many women, I didn’t take it seriously because I was ‘too young.
My husband refused to entertain this possibility too and his support got even less.
Another 18 months go by and it all became too much. We were fighting all the time and 4 years after we married – we separated.
But the loss of a husband wasn’t the worst part.
It was the loss of everything else…
My lifestyle (not that it was ever lavish)
However, a few months after we split, I was approached by a previous boss who suggested I apply for a new position that was coming up with the company she was with at that time.
At the time, I was delighted to have the opportunity to get back into management in an industry I knew well. I thought this would be the solution, given that my previous job had started this mood of depression and melancholy right? Obviously what I needed was a mental challenge – a job I could get my teeth into. Start feeling like myself again.
I applied and was successful – however, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Unbeknownst to me, my symptoms had only just surfaced but were about to get a whole lot worse.
The job itself was amazing! Exactly what I had been waiting for. But my brain could no longer cope. My office management skills had all but disappeared. I had brain fog, couldn’t focus, couldn’t organise, couldn’t plan – all of the things I’d been known for in previous jobs! I could not comprehend what was happening. I simply couldn’t operate at the high level required for the role. I was devastated, frustrated and embarrassed.
This then led to further depression and anxiety. Which led to time off.
Which led to me losing one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. The shame was immense.
I couldn’t explain my ‘illness’ other than depression related to never-ending fatigue. If I’d been my boss, I’d have fired me too. I sounded so pathetic and felt even more so. But once I’d been let go, I had stopped caring. About everything. I was by now living in a friend’s flat on very low rent, unemployed, on benefits and avoiding ALL social interaction.
After a few months, I was beyond struggling with money. I had to tell my friend the rent was going to be late by a couple of weeks. This did not go down well and she threatened to throw me out. I had nowhere else to go, and couldn’t afford it even if I did. So I decided to leave Aberdeen.
I needed to sort my life out, a fresh start. I moved South and rented a single room from a friend of a friend. This was surely my lowest point…
But with absolutely nothing – I had the freedom to do whatever I liked.
This released a little of the fog that was still hanging around and I decided to start up my dog walking business.
It quickly turned into a full-time pet sitting business and I was travelling quite a lot to stay in other homes to look after some beautiful furbabies. Stress-free! This didn’t last either. The income was so low that I wasn’t making any money after travel costs.
At this point, I had noticed my monthly cycles were now every second, third or even fourth month so I decided to get tested for menopause. I was 45. Blood tests were highly indicative of perimenopause – which I’d never heard of till then. But it became clear I had been in perimenopause for around 5 years!
I was offered HRT and as I was very low risk, I took it. However, only a couple of months later, there was a global shortage of the pills I’d been prescribed. My GP switched me to patches but they were unavailable too.
So I had nothing. Also during this time, my mum and I had spoken at length about us potentially sharing a house. Primarily so I could be a part-time carer for her. We made the decision and 2 years ago we started renting our shared house.
Whilst the new house was fabulous, with lots of space and high quality, I was still unemployed and subconsciously miserable. I had forgotten about HRT, unaware that the shortage had been rectified.
Then on Christmas eve 2020 – I broke. I had been on edge all day, every single thing was annoying me. So when mum said something negative about the meal I’d made, that in hindsight was so trivial, I lost the plot.
We had a massive argument and now I can’t even remember what was said. It’s become a bit of a blur. That night, I was so upset. I had 3 ciders which made me a lot more drunk than they should have done as I have a very high tolerance. To such a point that I genuinely can’t remember what happened next.
What I do remember is waking up on the sofa on Christmas day with such dread. But that feeling of knowing something bad happened. Somewhere in my mind, I was sure I’d written a letter to mum. The kind of letter that apologises, explains and says goodbye…
When mum appeared in the morning, the look on her face and her one word ‘Well?’ only added to my sinking. Bits of the night came back to me. I had decided I didn’t want to wake up ever again. But at the same time, I had known I couldn’t do anything to ensure that happened. I must have passed out and had just hoped somehow I’d be taken away from this world. I did not want to have to cope with ANYTHING ever again.
I spent the next 2 days in my bed, I got up for liquid and the bathroom but nothing else. I turned my phone off. I didn’t speak to anyone.
This had been my worst Christmas ever and THIS was absolutely my lowest point. After a few days, I felt I was able to face mum and I apologised, although I couldn’t remember what I’d even said to her. There was no mention of a letter so I don’t know if I did write one or not.
The situation has never been spoken about since. Mum and I don’t have a typical mother-daughter relationship. There is a huge amount of love but it’s always been difficult for us to openly talk to each other. So we dealt with it as best we could and have, thankfully, moved on. At the end of January, close to my birthday, I went back to the GP to discuss my depression. More blood tests were done and I was at last back on HRT.
I think it all started kicking in around mid-February.
I was randomly approached by a Facebook friend, one I’d barely spoken to before, about an opportunity to join a free masterclass on how to build your online course. Here was my solution!
I’d built up a ton of knowledge and skills around social media from 8 years in and out of network marketing and I knew I had enough in my head to put together a course to help others use social media effectively.
It felt like a sign. I jumped at it! From the free event, I signed up for two full-length programmes. I was going to become an accredited coach and online course creator. A new fire was in my belly. I had passion, focus and most of all – energy! And this is where the absolute life-changing stuff happened!
I instantly connected with one of my fellow students, to such a point we’re convinced we could be twins in another universe! That wonderful lady is now my best friend – and my business partner! We were both at a similarly low point in our lives and when we met, it truly felt like we had saved each other. We have immense trust, we support each other always and are now growing a fabulous business together.
We are about to launch The MenoPAUSE Retreat where we can help other women navigate this transition more easily – make menopause manageable! It is now our life’s mission – or purpose. To help other women with what we have learned, our experience, our best bits and our worst bits as well as give them a toolbox of holistic techniques and wellness products to help alleviate the symptoms.
These will include Meg Mathews book, ‘The New Hot’. I loved reading it and I related to so much of Meg’s own experience. It’s a great book filled with so much useful information. Also, the Meg’s Menopause Rosey Rain facial spray is beautiful too for those hot flush moments!
We can’t wait to launch! To think that almost one year ago I didn’t want to live… And now I’m living my best life!
My journey has been one with many struggles but without them, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.
And that fills me with joy, pride and absolutely love.