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It's that time: hello menopause: part 1

Back in 2013 when I was having chemo I went through the joys of hot flushes, night sweats and no periods and thought "Huzzah! That's that done."

A few months down the line, when all the treatment was over and the meds had cleared my system (and much to the delight of my [male], oncologist who wanted my periods to stop naturally), they came back and assumed pretty much the same schedule they had before.

Gradually over the last few years the cycle has got a bit more random until in 2017 there seems to be a constant menstruation 'lucky dip' going on where my body has a little think every day and then says "Today will be mostly about..."

Then it chooses from a well-stocked pantry of:

  • Hot flushes (but only at the worst possible moments)
  • Brain fog
  • Mood swings
  • Bursting into tears at absolutely anything
  • Anxiety
  • Unexpected periods, ranging from a couple of spots to more blood than you would believe it was possible to lose without actually expiring.
On top of these daily adventures, there's the ongoing drying skin and the hair in such a shocking condition, dry, lifeless, dull no matter what I do, except when the weather is damp, when it just puffs up into the most spectacular of Phil Spector's wigs.

It is completely no consolation to remember that this is what's supposed to happen to a woman of my age. At least I haven't got the night sweats, but I think that's only because my body realises that there'd only be me and my cats to witness these, so they'd be a waste of energy. I had them when I was having chemo, they are unreal, waking up completely soaking and on fire with nothing to do except waiting for them to pass and then putting on dry jammies.

How am I coping?

Hot flushes - Wearing layers, cutting down on coffee and alcohol, upping my exercise and drinking water. Thankfully they don't hit very often, but when they do...

I always feel I make them worse by almost automatically entering panic mode, hence making me even hotter.

Brain fog - This was a big problem for me when I was having chemo, so I got used to writing everything down and thankfully kept it up when I got better. I'm pleased to say that there's very little that now slips through the net.

I know I can't keep that much information in my head, so my diary and notebook are super-important (NOT random bits of paper!) Having specific places to record the important stuff and knowing where those books are at all times is the key to keeping organised.

Mood swings - These are tricky because sometimes I just need to take myself off from people and be by myself, but that's not always practical.

Avoiding situations I know will annoy or upset me is one strategy that I know works for me. Walking, keeping hydrated and making sure I'm well-rested are key and so is taking a deep breath and counting to 10 before opening my mouth.

Trying to always be upbeat and positive about things can help me, but sometimes it's hard.

Bursting into tears at anything - This is just the well of emotion floating about. Watching tv is a risk, as is reading, looking at photos, listening to music. Some days I can just blub at the drop of a hat.

Anxiety - Largely related to worrying about any of the others!

Periods - Turn up at any time and ranging from hardly anything to "Do I really have that much blood?" I basically just carry sanitary products with me all the time now because I just don't know when I'll need them.

So how do I cope?
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Exercise
  • Eating well
  • Cutting down on coffee and alcohol
  • Listening to my body and slowing down when I need to.

What are your top tips for coping with the joys of the menopause?


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