Alongside hot flushes and joint pain, Susan experienced anxiety, anger, inability to make decisions and loss of self-confidence. Support from her partner and colleagues helped her emerge from the menopause with a sense of hope, renewal and refreshment.
Susan describes the menopause as a hormonally induced change; that affects women not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. From the age of 45 to 50, she experienced a gradual fizzling out; of her periods, painful ankles and knees and the soles of my feet burning like hell;, as well as hot flushes. Unable to take HRT because of a family history of breast cancer, Susan found temporary relief from her desperately annoying, embarrassing and debilitating; hot flushes by adding the sage infusion Menosan to water.
Yet despite these physical symptoms, it was the emotional aspects of the menopause which had the most significant impact on Susan’s life. She describes her anger, emotional outbursts, inability to make decisions, and loss of control as a shadow side of me; a darkness; a cloud coming over me;. As a gay woman proud of her boyish, thin figure;, menopausal weight gain eroded her self-confidence and contributed to a cycle of eating too much, maybe drinking too much and not exercising as much as I should have;. She speaks of her feelings of invisibility and the sense that menopausal women are no longer seen or heard. For her, the menopause represents a bereavement of one’s self; a going into purdah behind the veil;.
For Susan, this sense of loss was compounded by the death of a close friend and by the realization that, despite a life choice of childlessness, the menopause marked the end of her fertility. She emphasizes the importance of a strong support network to help women face the physical and emotional challenges of the menopause. Her very sympathetic; partner and the great community of women; at work who understood the physical and emotional challenges of the menopause and offered support when needed, played a significant role in helping Susan successfully negotiate the menopause transition.
Since her last period on her fiftieth birthday, Susan has been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. She believes that this and the experience of the menopause have shaken everything up, forcing her not only to become more conscious of her health and the needs of her body, but to become aware of her spiritual core. As a postmenopausal woman, she now finds herself on the shore recovered;, having emerged into a place of peace and contentment.
Susan was interviewed for Healthtalkonline in June 2009.