Not just another Menopause blog
Since 2021, Menopause has been in the news. It’s everywhere, on social media, there are documentaries and the news regularly mentions HRT shortages.
The mere mention of the word Menopause is enough to set eyes rolling and it is surprising whose eyes are rolling (more about that another time!). This is absolutely a topic that should be discussed not least so that the next wave of sufferers can be educated as to what to expect.
There should be information available to family members and work places so that they can support a Menopause sufferer and not mistake symptoms for what may seem as disruptive behaviour or changes of character. Believe me when I say that PMT has nothing on Menopause!
My road to Menopause
My menopause came on literally overnight. One day I was wheeled into an operating theatre with my endocrine system (network of glands responsible for the production of hormones) fully functional as far as I was aware. Unfortunately a mass found in one of my ovaries meant that I needed a total hysterectomy which included the removal of both my ovaries (the organ mainly responsible for the production of female sex hormones). With my ovaries (and other organs) removed, it took only a matter of days for the effects of my *medical menopause to start to take effect.
For more details about the beginning of my story, please visit the link at the bottom of this article.
Getting to this point
I’m no stranger to blogging. Back in 2016 I started the My Diet Burble blog to help support my weight loss journey and along the way I discovered a love for cooking so I began to share healthy recipes too. This blog lead on to a change in direction to focus more on recipe creating and sharing and so The Lean Cook came to be.
At the time of my hysterectomy in 2018 I was studying to qualify as an MNU Certified Nutritionist and while I had to pause my studies to recover, I was able to resume my studies and qualify with honors in June 2019. Other than having my children, this is one of my proudest achievements!
At this point in my life the world really was my oyster. I was ready and equipped to help others achieve their goals. I was in a unique position where I could put my qualifications to good use alongside my healthy cooking know-how, but as time moved on, my menopause symptoms got in the way despite being on HRT. I wasn’t coping with these changes and I felt that I needed to take a break and work on ‘me’ for a bit. This coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of several health problems which have dominated the last 2 years.
Coming out of the dark
In the 4 years since my operation there have been some really dark times, with the last 2 years being the hardest. Throughout, my husband has been my rock and I’m really sorry for what I’ve put him through. I thought that ‘this’ was just how life was now and I hadn’t really taken in how much Menopause has affected and altered my life.
I had resigned myself to accept that my altered body was was here to stay and it never occurred to me that there was another way until I watched the first of the documentaries presented by Davina McCall: Sex, Myths and the Menopause. At the time of its release I’d seen the trailers and I was hoping to get around to watching it at some point. It wasn’t until I spoke to one of my closest friends that I did sit down one afternoon to watch it and this is the WhatsApp message I sent her.
Well, that was last year and it finally gave me some hope that this wasn’t how I was destined to be! I took the decision to do something and made an appointment with a GP at my local practice who specialised in Womens Health with a view to getting a referral to our local Menopause clinic. That appointment took place in June 2021 and would it surprise you to hear that I’m no further forward?
My Menopause symptoms are worsening and it’s really affecting all aspects of my life including my mental health. So while I try to get some help I made the decision to start this blog to help me organise my thoughts and feelings instead of bottling them up to the point where I have yet another emotional meltdown.
A problem shared and all that
I’ve decided to use this blog as a form of self help, to get me back on a road where I can start to be a version of me that I recognise. I’ve tried to start this conversation within The Lean Cook environment, but while all the stats say that my followers are the predicted target audience, it never felt comfortable posting a new recipe followed by a blog about my worsening brain fog, so I gradually withdrew into myself.
From the outside it must seem that I’ve lost interest in creating and sharing recipes, but nothing could be further from the truth. Instead my passion and enthusiasm has gradually been replaced by crippling anxiety.
Finally seeing the light
2 years of COVID restrictions have been the perfect environment to hunker down and retreat from all things. After all, we all had to stay at home so my behaviour didn’t seem out of the ordinary.
Just before the Pandemic started we booked a family holiday which we of course didn’t get to go on, but as restrictions lifted we moved the booking to a point in time when we hoped we would finally have our holiday and I’m delighted to say that we returned from that holiday 3 weeks ago.
Spending 2 weeks in wonderfully warm Florida made my body feel more at ease. I was worlds away from my usual day to day mundanity. I had space to think about the woman I’ve become and the woman I want to go back to being.
Our return to the UK coincided with the release of Davina McCall: Sex, Mind and the Menopause and I set aside some time to watch it when my husband was away with work. I wasn’t expecting to react in the way that I did when I watched it. More tears as it hit so close to home that part way through I had to stop watching and get out of the house.
Watching Part 2 of this documentary series almost a year after crying through the first, I was inspired to go back to the GP, with the hope of moving things along, to get a review of my HRT but what happened instead surprised, disappointed and angered me to say the least. For the first time I felt let down and I’ll talk more about this when I’ve organised the events and feelings in my head.
A little bit of the old me has resurfaced and I’m not prepared to sit back and accept that this is the way things have to be for me. Women around the world are having their menopause experiences and while the documentaries have been eye opening, I can’t help but wonder how my menopause would have progressed if it had happened in a natural way instead of the flick of a switch after surgery.
Unfortunately those documentaries haven’t really addressed medical menopause sufferers and I’m sure there are many of us out there who are trying to navigate their way around life with a body which in reality is a stranger to them, accepting their fate because they are none the wiser.
My hopes for this blog
I have a running joke with my children ‘mummy doesn’t remember anything’. It’s a sad reality that my brain frog and memory loss are so severe that I’ve previously considered that perhaps I have early onset dementia. I now realise that this isn’t the case but I’ve reached a point where I have to write things down so that I stop stressing about forgetting things.
Since our return from Florida I’ve been writing a daily journal to help organise my thoughts, write down things I need to do and my brain feels more settled but no less foggy.
If the only thing I achieve with this blog is to feel more organised in my thoughts and feelings I’ll be happy, but if I can help just one person either going through similar experience or help friend or family member understand what this is like then I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something!
*Medical menopause definition – Medical, induced, or surgical menopause happens much faster, or even abruptly, depending on the cause. Induced menopause is when a person with a uterus stops producing eggs and the menstrual cycle prematurely stops due to certain medical treatments like chemotherapy or surgery to remove partially or fully the female reproductive organs including ovaries.
Overall, the take home message that I’d like to leave you with is that you deserve to put your time and energy into the things that matter the MOST to you. But first, you must make time by eliminating distractions.
If you’ve enjoyed or found this post helpful, please leave a comment and share it for others to read!