All Change Again

It’s been two years since I wrote my first menopause blog Change, The https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/change-jayne-harrison/

And what a two years it has been! I’m hoping this story footnote will help someone today or maybe inspire someone to share their story too.

It was #WorldMentalHealthDay 2016 when I bared my soul. I didn’t know how it would be received. I didn’t know if anyone would even read it, let alone whether it would mean anything to anyone but me.

How wrong I was.

My life has changed massively since then. I’ve spoken about menopause at the IOD Women Conference, written about why businesses should support menopause at work and how coaching can help. I’ve shared experiences, laughed a lot, and cried too with other truly amazing women, I’ve even done a radio chat show.

I’ve run Menopause Cafes with dedicated supporters (Claire Shepherd, Kate Jenkinson, Kate Vokes - thank you, thank you, thank you). And it’s all been in the name of breaking taboos, sharing symptoms and support, and lightening the load for others. And fun - because heaven knows we need that in our lives.

I’ve met truly extraordinary women who have been through the mill and back and come out the other end fighting - not just fighting for themselves, but willing to give their time, care and attention to others because they don’t want another women to suffer as they have.

Women like:

Diane Danzebrink (I will be forever grateful for our first chats)

Deborah Garlick and the team at Henpicked

Veronica Hyde

Kate Usher

Dr Kate Jenkinson

Claire Shepherd

Angela from Behind The Woman

Kate Vokes (thank you for the use of your premises)

Dr Louise Newson

Lauren Chiren

Julie Dennis

Ola Fagbohun

Sharon MacArthur

And the dozens of women who showed up to the cafes to heal and help others heal too.

So where am I now?

At the time of writing the first blog I was on anti depressants. They helped me sleep but not much else. Menopause is a hormone related life stage; taking ADs was ok for a short time but it would never be a long term solution. It wasn’t until I started taking HRT (not advisable for everyone, I grant) that I’ve noticed a change for the better.

I’m still managing and monitoring my lifestyle: sleep, diet and exercise, with the latter two being particularly crucial for maintaining my mental health, And I practically rattle when I walk with the number of supplements I’m taking. But the outcome has been worth it tenfold. I can function again! I remember things better, I have energy, I have motivation, I have a life. I hope I am approaching what Veronica Hyde calls post menopausal zest, I really do. But if I’m not there yet, then so be it.

Don’t get me wrong..I’m a version of me that is different to the ‘old me’. I remember wanting that woman back. She will never be back. I actually don’t want her back. My mental and physical health deterioration is a part of me - it’s as much a part of my identity as what I do for a living. I want to remember her, because it makes me value who I am now. I know how fragile it is this life. Grab it, grab it and hold it lightly not tightly, grab it while and if you can.

And if you can’t - as grabbing for me wasn’t an option when I was at my very worse - see if you can ask someone to walk, sit, listen, just be by the side of you. It’s what has made the most difference to me. Connection. It comes as no surprise to me that relationships are a cornerstone of wellbeing. Unfortunately, when you’re at your worse you hide. If someone’s hiding from you, would you notice? If someone has retreated and isn’t as communicative as they used to be, would you notice? Would you be willing to notice ‘out loud’ and tell them you see them?

So as I sit here, in much the same spot I did when I wrote “Change, The” I feel privileged to have been on this journey, it’s tested me, and it’s taught me a lot about myself. But most of all, it’s taught me how truly special the people are in my life. Thank you to all the amazing people who have made the journey with me.

#Menopause #Change #MentalHealth #WorldMentalHealthDay