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Menopause during a pandemic

Our columnist Miss Menopause shares her honest and open account of her struggles during lockdown...

By Sharon MacArthur

Within 3 days all my work was gone. Everything I worked so hard for had stopped. 

I had heard of COVID-19. It had been mentioned well before Christmas. It was just like the flu wasnt it? Id had the flu once before in my early 20s and while I didnt fancy getting it again I wasnt really scared. 

 Then it all began. I was meant to be at a big awards dinner on 16th March. Cancelled. Then day after day each of my clients got in touch to say things couldnt go ahead. Of course this was exactly the right thing to do but each one was like a another tiny cut. By the end of that week I found myself with nothing much to do. 

During my life I have succumbed to bouts of anxiety. A bad boss, the break-up of a relationship, but I wasnt expecting this. It felt a bit like a black hole trying to swallow me up. 

My HRT was nearly out. Id had problems for months trying to get it. Not having it wasn’t an option. This virus meant getting a doctor’s appointment was a nightmare, it was going to be weeks and the thought of running out terrified me. Being on HRT had given me my life back and the thought of stopping it wasn’t an option. My brain fog, hot sweats and tiredness seemed to vanish overnight. No way was I going back to that. So, I went online and researched pharmacies. I found a reputable one, a high street name, and managed to buy what I needed. Who knew you could do that? My wallet was lighter and I felt a wave of relief but it felt a little wrong too. Anyway, sorted or so I thought?

So here I was all alone every day. No kids to home school my other half out to work and me with loads of time to do amazing things? Right. Wrong.  

Each day Id get up with good intentions but very quickly found myself feeling exhausted and unable to think about getting dressed. Staring at the TV and feeling like a failure. Where was that book I was going to write or the languages I was meant to learn?

I became obsessed with the virus, watching everything I could. Trying to make sense of it all I guess. 

Others around me seemed to be relishing the time and space to do things. People were running marathons in their back garden while here was I in my jarmas feeling hopeless. 

As a businesswoman, I could see lots of people rising to the opportunities of COVID-19. Zoom meetings everywhere, new courses online. I could move my business online, but I just didnt have the mental strength. My menopausal brain had sapped me of my energy. Brain fog and exhaustion through the roof once more.

Some days were better than others. I would have a burst of energy and be highly motivated then other days I would just sit there. I was finding it hard to get into a routine. Miss Menopause was struggling and I didnt know what to do. 

Its been a slow turn around for me. I’m having more good days than bad. Work is really slow but I’m healthy and so is everyone I love so I have lots to be grateful for. Here are some of the things that have helped me:

Talk to people 

Ive reached out to more people just for a chat. We are sociable animals and I knew I needed to speak to people even if I couldnt see them. When I could, I dressed up. I even wore a hat to a meeting. I did it for me, but people smiled and it made them feel better too.

I sent out a couple of cards to friends. It felt great to think of other people and not just me. How shocked was I when I received a surprise bunch of flowers, chocolates and a colouring book. My friends are lush. 

Think about helping others

Helping others has been proven to help increase happiness. Ive been offering my time for free and it feels great to be useful again. Making a positive difference in the world has always been my number one driver. Think about a tiny thing you can do, not what you can’t?

Kindness starts with yourself

I’ve been learning to give myself a break on the days I don’t feel great. I’m just being. I’m not superwoman so I’m not trying to be. If I don’t wash my hair or put make-up on is it hurting anyone? Bad days help us appreciate the good days. If you dont feel like doing something, then dont. Be kind to yourself.

Move about

While I hate exercise with a passion, I know its a good thing to do. Ive been exercising with friends most mornings. We aren’t glam and my Mam who’s in her 70s is probably more toned than me but it’s a start. Music also helps and I have been known to jump about spontaneously to my favourite tunes. What’s your go-to tune to make you feel better?

Its the little things

Nature never stops. Ive noticed the birds singing, the colour of the flowers. The sound of the sea. I live very close. Without the noise of everyday life, I’ve noticed nature more and I love it.

About Miss Menopause

Sharon’s 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, email: sharon@missmenopause.co.uk

Any women who want to talk about the menopause in an open community can also join Sharon’s Facebook group or her Facebook and Twitter campaign #wearemenopause

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