Menopause – it’s a thing!

Menopause – it’s a thing!

I was thinking about it being International Women’s Day and what this means to me. Well, I’m a woman that’s for sure so I’ll take an international day in my honour. I’m also a working woman and that is a large part of my identity. Throughout all of my adult life I have worked, I have done jobs I have loved, jobs I have hated, jobs that have taught me so much and others where I have been bored witless. I have worked in teams where I have laughed so hard it hurts and in teams where I felt lonely, but only a few jobs have ever been about me being a ‘woman’. Up until a few years ago I blazed through life and work with confidence and a little bit of bravado and then ‘Bam’ down I fell. What happened? I hear you ask, Menopause happened!

We all hear about menopause in some shape or form, the knowledge out there is sketchy to say the least, but it is getting better. It’s one of those subjects we whisper, we ignore, we pretend its not happening to us because to be frank it’s pipping awful. Let me share my story and why on international women’s day it’s important to acknowledge the direct impact menopause has on 49.6% of the population (women!) and the indirect impact it has on the remaining 50.4% (men!)

When we think about menopause we think about the physical symptoms like hot sweats and weight gain but what we don’t realise are the numerous psychological symptoms, anxiety, depression, problems with memory and concentration, I could go on.

As I said I have always worked, from a paper round at 13, joining the police at 16, going to university at 30 and finding my profession in HR not long afterwards. I have seen things and dealt with tragedies that no one should ever have to, and all of this has made me the woman I wanted to be. Strong, capable, confident. Until Menopause duh duh duh durrrr.

Suddenly my confidence was gone, my ability to string a sentence together, totally shot! Find that simple word, nope not there! I couldn’t pick up the phone without a sense of dread, what if the person on the other end realised, I knew nothing! My voice went, I literally lost it, I stuttered and whispered. For the first time I questioned my capability, assumed everyone was questioning it as well. What made it all worse was the insomnia; 03.33. every single night at 03.33 I woke up, and that was it, restless, unable to get back to sleep watching the clock until it was time to go to work. I was permanently exhausted, absolutely bone tired and no matter what I did I couldn’t get the sleep I needed to function. You get the picture. Then I got made redundant and decided that I couldn’t work anymore, it wasn’t worth the impact on my health. I also wanted to take up golf but that’s a whole different blog!

What changed? I got help, I insisted that my doctor take me seriously instead of palming me off with supplements. I started asking questions and realised I wasn’t going mad; this was perfectly normal when going through menopause. I also got approached by Alpaca to come and work for them, they said they were flexible, and they said they were supportive. Turns out I wasn’t ready to retire.

So, in the past three years I have worked flexible hours, if I have had a bad night with little sleep there is no requirement on me to be at my desk by a certain time. I can take what breaks I need during the day because I’m trusted to get the job done. It is okay to be open about how I am feeling and sometimes it is just enough to say, ‘not a good day’. If my anxiety levels are high and I can’t find my voice, then its ok to take a step back; most importantly I am allowed to be honest.

I call Alpaca my tribe, I feel like I belong. I am respected for my knowledge and experience and learning experiences are constantly being chucked at me, most of which I’m retaining!

This woman isn’t being beaten by menopause, and I choose to challenge menopause in all its glory. #ChooseToChallenge

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