Is discussing menopause the last glass ceiling to be broken, health-wise? If so, the PHS is about to take a hammer to it with our new Menopause Matters feature! Joss Wood is the first of our authors to discuss the effect it has on her life...
Getting older sucks.
Seriously. I just thought I would put that out in case any of you had any doubt. Although, to be fair, I’ve been in a state of war with my hormones for most of my life. Irregular periods when I was a teen, PCOS leading to seven years of infertility, thyroid, peri-menopause. I’ve recently turned forty-eight— it can’t possibly be twenty years since I was twenty-eight! $%^&— and I’ve been doing the peri-menopause dance for a while now. In layman’s terms, peri-M is the flag your body waves to tell you that you’re running out of eggs and reproductive time. Apparently, peri-menopause can occur up to fifteen years—fifteen people!—before menopause hits and although all women are different, they usually enter peri-menopause in their forties. A website I visited also said that with a little information, most woman can navigate this time of their lives with grace and ease. After rolling around on the floor laughing, I am back in my chair. You will have gathered that I am not one of those women.
After I got my thyroid issue sorted out—another saga on its own— I was hit by a range of symptoms that nearly dropped me to my knees. One of my first indications that my hormones were coloring outside of the lines were the hint of hot flushes. I didn’t do the whole sweat-pouring-off-my-body thing, I just had two burning flags on my cheekbones that felt like red hot pokers under my skin. They lasted about three months, then I had three months worth of chronic insomnia. I don’t sleep well at the best of times so that was tough. (Hint: I find I sleep a lot better if I avoid news sites and social media before I go to sleep.) Then there was what I call my serial killer stage. I’m an even keeled person, I don’t anger quickly so my moments of all consuming rage over issues that wouldn’t normally upset me were quite frightening.
And the tiredness! Day after day, I was desperate to go back to sleep two hours after I woke up. Not easy when you are on a constant deadline and trying to write upbeat, emotional and happy books. I was a shadow of the real me. I think that’s what drove me back to the doctor. I felt like I was losing myself, losing my mind and my ability to create. And isn’t it crazy that menopause and hormone fluctuations happen when you are finally getting your life together? In modern times, forty plus is when women are hitting their stride, its possibly the busiest time of our lives. Many of us have teenagers, and life in general—schooling, university, clothes, cell phones, data—is expensive. Old age is looming and we need to make as much money while we can, as long as we can. This is the time we make bank. We are trying to do that while attempting to be the best mother we can be, and the best employee, wife, lover, writer…blergh.
It’s a mad, mad time and our bodies think this is a good time to rebel?
I have a wonderful doctor who I can be completely honest with and she put me back on the pill which regulated my hormones. Within a month I felt human, within three I felt better. The pill, however isn’t the best option for everyone. I have two friends whose symptoms were exacerbated by the pill but it worked for me. There are days in the month that are worse than others and I can feel my body changing but the pill takes the edge off. I hit my deadlines and my family and friends remain safe. A good thing because prison orange is not my color.
But, on the plus side, when I feel old and hormonal and sad, shirtless pictures of Justin Hartley and Tyler Hoechlin do manage to cheer me up.
Lots of love and happy reading, Joss xxx
Joss's latest book, One Night To Forever, is out on the 8th of May and it's her 25th book for Harlequin! To discover what she's working on next, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Is the menopause something you worry about, struggle with or have been through and survived? What were the symptoms and how did you cope with them? Did you try alternative remedies or go the more traditional route? Was it something you discussed openly with your friends or felt you had to go through alone? Let us know in the comments or join the #MenoMatters discussion on our Social Media.