Karin's story covers pretty much every aspect of the menopause its symptoms and possible treatments. Her conclusions are very interesting and I think her approach is brave and enlightened...
My voyage through the menopause
I have no real idea when I started the menopause, I suppose like many women I realised one day that the things that were happening to my body were symptoms of the menopause or perimenopause. This did not upset me, in a way it was a relief as then I could begin to understand what was happening. The worst and most debilitating effect for me was torrential periods, I always had heavy periods from early on but things began to get problematic in my mid-thirties - (early menopause). Enough to say that there are crime scenes with less blood.
I had many of the other symptoms mood swings, tiredness and weight gain, and having suffered from migraines all my life they too got worse. So all in all, with two young children and a conglomerate of physical irritations I continued on with life thinking this is just how it is: getting older, stress of family life, work, money, relationships.
My approach was to attack each symptom individually, I took pain killers and other prescription drugs for my headaches and every available ‘tonic’ for the tiredness. Eventually after much I cajoling from my husband, I consulted a traditional herbalist. He gave me a tea to brew at home - it smelt and looked like ‘Victorian drains’. It did help for a while, then other remedies and then something else. All worked for a short time but the effectiveness became less each time.
With the heavy bleeding it became almost impossible to leave the house during those few days of the month and I felt I needed something more effective and long lasting. My doctor suggested an IUD to inhibit the bleeding, I decided to go for it and yes it worked the bleeding stopped altogether! But all the other symptoms remained and as I got older they were joined by others - joint pain and the most telling of all the Hot Flushes.
I was getting fed up and eventually decided to try HRT. The symptoms eased but I hated it. I gained weight but mostly I felt that I had given up and in. I needed my body to be mine not run by artificial hormones. It was not for me I binned the patches.
What’s Changed? My approach.
I still have all these wonderful symptoms, what’s changed is me. About eighteen months ago around the time of my HRT experiment, I began to think about how these symptoms were affecting my life and I came to an understanding that began to make sense to me. It is this, that the menopause and all the physical and psychological symptoms are within my power to control, I can react to them in a manner that works for me and makes my life better. All the therapies and medicines can help with the symptoms and some do, but it is my approach to the actual fact of the menopause that can make my life easier and more enjoyable.
I am not a psychologist, all I can say is that when I decided that I was not going to be controlled or overwhelmed by this stage in my life. That I was going to effectively consider it part of my everyday life, it did become easier. Yes, I have hot flushes, I wake at night (often) I feel tired, I feel irritable, I have joint pain, yes all of these! This is part of my life now and for the next while, so I live with it embrace it and get on with it. I don’t take any medication, remedies or supplements for my menopausal symptoms! I take supplements for my overall health and the occasional pain killer for my headaches. I developed a new love for exercise which helps clear my mind and keep me positive.
So to say the menopause is in your mind is not to denigrate the very real symptoms that many women experience, me included. It is to help empower those experiencing symptoms both physical and psychological to overcome the debilitating effects of them and live happier easier lives.