On International Menopause Day, LJMU's Mel Jones, a researcher development adviser and menopausal woman talks about her experience ....
"It took me many months and lots of research to realise that the physical and psychological changes I was experiencing were due to menopause.
"Like many women, there was a period where I felt frightened and confused by what I was experiencing particularly the emotional and mental changes: anxiety around events that normally wouldn’t trouble me; reduced confidence; the effort needed to get through mental fog; becoming quickly exhausted; and generally feeling ‘disconnected’.
"It impacted at home but also, of course, at work. A prerequisite of my role (supporting others’ professional and personal development) is that I am motivating and positive and that was tough when I felt strangely ‘changed’. This will be an experience many women recognise: trying to maintain high professional standards while having a private tussle with unhelpful thinking and reactions, as well of course as the infamous flushes, aches and pains etc.
"What has helped? Increasing my knowledge of menopause and realising that I’m part of a huge community of women sharing this experience; exercise – particularly yoga, but all sport and physical activities like gardening and walking my dog; being outside, getting some air and sunlight every day; talking to other women; learning that its ok to not feel ok (something I preach but have only recently practiced); getting the basics right – so eating well and getting lots of sleep. AND...HRT! When your body is depleted of certain hormones, there are consequences, so redressing the balance really does help.
"Agreeing to write this feels like ‘coming out’ (not again?!) but it’s so important that we (menopausal women) stop feeling the need to disguise/deny what is after all a totally natural part of our lives. Instead we need to ask for and use any/all support offered by our workplaces (as well as our colleagues, friends and wider networks), acknowledge the challenges posed by menopause and be proud of the resilience we show in dealing with them."