Menopause and my mental health: How the black dog has hit again

Hello, old friend. No offence, but I’d rather you weren’t here. Because I’m sitting writing this with tears rolling down my face and a deep sense of foreboding and hopelessness around me that I can’t shake. It’s an experience I’ve known too well over the last two years of fighting menopause – because that’s how it feels now, like a fight.

My brain is saying: “Smile. Get up. Move. Do something. This is hormones. You can beat them,” but my body is aching and my shoulders are heavy. Everything is an effort. I feel like Pig-Pen in Peanuts, with his cloud of dust permanently around him, only mine is a grey raincloud that is physically pressing down on me. Menopause making its presence felt.

It’s a familiar story. I’ve been on this new HRT – Evorel Conti – for four months and this has been building up for the last six weeks; the usual time it seems to take for me to get an initial burst of life from the hormones and then for it to fade away.

I opted to go on anti-depressants after my experience in March, but they aren’t helping and I don’t want to take a stronger dose. They already affect my RLS and I don’t want to take ever more medication to counter the effects of another.

I should be feeling positive. Yes, Covid-19 is having an impact – I’ve been home working since March and this has led to changes at work. But the last month has seen Pausitivity launch the Pausitive Living video series and I’ve been interviewing some amazing women working to make menopause better.

Each one of them has been inspirational and yet, I don’t feel inspired. I feel a failure. The new system at work has unsurfaced all those fears about not being good enough and my brain is wondering what people are saying about me. They’re saying nothing, I know. But the little voice won’t listen.

Mental health and menopause: Dr Shahzadi Harper

This has spilt over into my work with Pausitivity and I’m questioning all my choices. It’s like every criticism and hurtful comment – personal and poster – is on a loop in my mind and I’m finding it hard to make decisions without wondering about my motives and what impact they could have and how others will interpret my actions and what they will say.

My whole life, I’ve tried to help those in need. Now the little voice questions who I did this for: them or me? I’ve cut back on social media for fear of how I appear, fear of looking egotistic or self-important. I have no lightness in me, anyway, nothing to make people smile. Emails have gone unanswered, promises have slipped away…

Not even 50Sense has escaped. I have posts I’ve committed to do and issues I want to share, but what for? What is the point? There are many others out there writing about menoapuse with better voices that are much more deserving of attention. Why do I think my thoughts are worthy?

So why am I writing this? To try and clarify my mind because I am a writer; this is how my mind processes things and it gives me strength. But I’m shaking at the thought of sharing it.

I do want to share this, though, short as it is. Because the one thing I’ve learnt about menopause over the last two years – and the one thing that is getting me up and making me do something – is that I’m this isn’t ME. This is a chemical reaction in my body, reacting in the same way chemistry experiments did at school. If this happens, then this is the result: it’s science, biology. And I’m not the only one going through this and I hope my words help someone else. That’s the reason I became a journalist.

So I’m going to go and get ready for work, concentrating on putting on a face – my war-mask – and make an appointment with the GP. I’m coming more and more to think HRT is not for me, which means weaning myself off them and having a plan for what happens after.

That’s a lot to squeeze in among the white noise dominating my thoughts and it may not all happen today. I’m a little scared and would really like to go back to bed and sleep. I won’t and a large part of that is all the help and support I get through 50Sense, for which I thank you all.

Doing this has shown me there are so many more kind and helpful people out there than not. So I’m off to put on a red lipstick and make a plan. Wish me luck.

If you are feeling bad, please call Samaritans on 116 123. It’s free.

8 thoughts on “Menopause and my mental health: How the black dog has hit again”

  1. Elizabeth, you are stronger than the dark dragon of depression and hormones. I wish I could give you some advice about how to beat it but that’s not how it works, you simply get through. This too shall pass. Hang in there and keep looking for the path to get you to a better place. Hang onto your blog, it appears to be a raft to buoy you.

    1. Oh thank you, Deb. You’re so right – I know these things will pass, it just seems to be a long time coming sometimes! And thank you, I think you’re right that 50Sense and all the support I get from readers is a huge liferaft. It’s wonderful how lovely people can be. Thank you one last time x

  2. Oh Liz I teared up reading this 😢 my heart goes out to you but this will pass, baby steps needed and lots of self care. I met with my menopausal besties on Friday and told them about you and your 50 sense page so they can benefit from your advice as I am. I’m so grateful I found you. Keep doing what you do, it’s so empowering. Sending lots of love and positivity your way x 🥰

  3. So honest and brave of you to share. It resonated with me – I’ve had some really dark and tearful days. I enjoy reading your posts you cover important topics.

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