World Menopause Day – 18.10.22
I was in my late twenties and working as a Head Person in a flat racing yard when I initially started struggling with tiredness.
I was exhausted whilst doing the job I had always done, or even just walking up the stairs in my cottage, my heart beating like I had run a race. I put it down to being under the weather and so I carried on with this feeling, a feeling that seemed to come in waves throughout the year, coming and going – I just thought that was me.
I started feeling anxious, too, sometimes for no apparent reason. I was waking up at night running through the next day in my head, not being able to clear my thoughts even though I knew there was nothing to be anxious about – again I thought it was just me. I started avoiding talking to people to have less to think over in my mind in the middle of the night.
Months could pass and I would be ok, so I thought maybe it was a bug I had picked up somewhere and just carried on. I had never been one for going to the doctor EVER – I always felt I was wasting their time, and mine sometimes, so rarely went. I’d always had irregular periods ever since starting them, sometimes I could go months without one, so I wasn’t concerned that I hadn’t had a period for as long as I could remember – who likes them anyway?
As it happens, I never had another period.
I started getting night sweats; waking up dripping wet and having to change my bedclothes. Again, I thought I had a bug – maybe a serious infection… Google was not my friend at this point! I reluctantly went to the doctor to discuss my symptoms and she sent me for a blood test. The results revealed I had Premature Ovarian Failure (since renamed Primary Ovarian Insufficiency). I felt shocked, I was in my thirties – how?
My husband and I had put off having a family because of work and now I was being told it was too late. Failure was how my condition was described and that is how I felt to be honest. I really struggled for a while. My husband was great about the whole thing but I hated not being able to make him a Daddy. I had to carry on in my senior position at work, watching life carry on – colleagues having babies, being happy for them whilst crying inside for me and my husband.
I then found out that I had borderline Osteopenia, a condition that reduces the mineral content of bone tissue, and I needed to start Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) straight away to save my bones from weakening. I was given leaflets to read and I had to decide what to take; I had no clue what to do and basically picked a drug off the list that had what sounded like the least side effects! Luckily, the one I picked was a great choice and the night sweats stopped very quickly, but the feeling of failure has stayed with me and I still don’t like Mothers’ or Fathers’ Day much.
I really wish I had asked for support, but at the time I didn’t know there was any available for me – I was too young to be in this situation and felt embarrassed to reach out. I now know that this is not the case and help is there, you just need to ask.
Menopause should not be a secretive subject. It should not be something you just get on with and expect to go through when you reach a certain age, it should be talked about over a cup of tea and be made to be a far less embarrassing subject. Sharing symptoms and experiences can help you realise you are not going mad and you are not alone.
By Beck Edmunds, Regional Community Executive at Racing Welfare.
For 24hour emotional support call Racing’s Support Line on 0800 6300 443.