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Miss Menopause column | I think I’ve got early onset Alzheimer’s…

HLN's new columnist Sharon MacArthur from Miss Menopause looks at a subject that she hears about daily from menopausal women...

By Sharon MacArthur, Miss Menopause

The most heartbreaking thing I hear every day…

 On the subject of a Menopause not a day goes by without someone contacting me to tell me this…”I think I’ve got early onset Alzheimer’s.”

When it comes to the subject of menopause, probably the most common symptom we know about is hot flushes. While it is a common symptom, and awful if you’re suffering from hot flushes day and night, it’s not the one I hear about most. A big nasty shock for lots of women is the development of what I call mind mince or brain fog. This is when you seem to lose the ability to remember simple words, phrases and sentences. You might find yourself upstairs but have no idea why or put your keys in the fridge. You can be gripped daily by a general feeling of lurking terror because you can’t remember things that used to be second nature. Capable, confident women can be turned into quivering wrecks. Doubting themselves and most commonly believing they have Early Onset Alzheimer’s. 

I met one women, who after time off to have her family, decided to put her heart and soul into her career. She worked really hard to gain a senior position but after five years of loving her job she started to notice things had changed. She felt anxious. Why couldn’t she remember information that she used to know instantly?  She had no idea it was the start of menopause. She just thought this is what middle age is meant to feel like. Because she didn’t feel capableanymore she left her company and took on a more junior role. Sadly this meant all of her effort and energy to get that senior role was lost overnight. She left a job she loved and her company lost her expertise and talent. It was the bloody menopause!

I am so sad as this scenario isn’t uncommon. I’ve since met many women who have left their positions because they felt they just couldn’t do it anymore, all because of ignorance about menopause. Most women don’t know this is a common symptom.

Whilst I don’t doubt imposter syndrome exists, I believe that a lot of women in their 40s feel this way because of a fluctuation in hormones caused by peri-menopause. This is the time in a woman’s life when they might start to feel differently. More tired, more stressed. In general terms, just ‘meh’. It’s a myth that you will know that you are heading towards menopause because your periods change first. Often you just don’t feel like yourself for a number of months, sometimes years, before you might notice a change in your periods. The end result is talent is walking out of the door and women losing their confidence. I’m just not having it anymore.

Raising awareness about the menopause among women, men, and employers is all about education and making it comfortable and acceptable for people to speak about it. Menopause is not a condition to be treated and cured, it’s a normal stage of life that every woman goes through. Helping people to realise this is my mission.

My training events are aimed at educating HR professionals, managers, and working women about the menopause in a fun, engaging, and informative way.

If you’d like to find out more, contact me at sharon@missmenopause.co.uk

You can also join my Facebook group or my Facebook and Twitter campaign #wearemenopause

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