Hello! raises menopause awareness: ‘The only person I didn’t want to kill was the dog’

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Hello! Magazine has a new menopause workplace pledge, encouraging employers to support women in the workforce as they go through menopause and to be aware of the physical and emotional changes from it. This is smart for a couple of reasons. One is that women my age are invaluable at work and we need accommodation during this life change. (That may sound arrogant, but we have decades of experience and we know how to run things.) The other is that Hello! must know that menopausal women make up a large percentage of their readers. Also, as obnoxious as I find her I have to acknowledge that Countess Sophie has been championing this cause as well.

Hello! has interviews with prominent British women talking about their perimenopausal and menopausal experiences. Some of their stories were both relatable and I wanted to talk about it. Honestly I don’t know who all these women are as they’re mostly famous in the UK, but I nodded along to some of these. Here are a few excerpts from different articles on Hello’s site. Their print edition puts these different quotes together, which is how I got the idea.

Julie Graham, actress and star of Benidorm, Shetland and The Bletchley Circle: “I started having symptoms when I was 48, after a couple of really bad years. My best friend had died suddenly, my ex-husband died, I’d moved house, my cousin died and my camper van set on fire. I was anxious, angry, I’d lost confidence and I couldn’t sleep. I was also in Benidorm at the time, always in a bloody swimsuit, and was piling on weight for no reason. I thought it was grieving, but I was going through the perimenopause.

“The menopause doesn’t just affect the women going through it – it also affects husbands, wives, children – the whole family unit. When I was going through it, the only person I didn’t want to kill was the dog!”

Nadia Sawalha, star of Loose Women “I knew absolutely nothing about the menopause so when I first started having symptoms at 48 – bleeding heavily, night sweats, brain fog and awful memory loss – I was convinced I had early-onset Alzheimer’s.”

“Over time, the symptoms became part of me. My anxiety had become who I was. I thought: ‘I’ve moved into that stage in my life when I have insomnia.’

“It wasn’t until eight years after my last period that I started taking HRT,” she explains. “I was completely against it before because I was ignorant – I thought women were taking risks for their vanity. But my doctor, Louise Newson, convinced me to try it.

“I was on it for three months when she asked me: ‘How are you sleeping?’ ‘Fine’ ‘How is your anxiety? ‘ ‘Fine’. It improved my marriage – my libido had improved – and I have more energy, I want to go out and do things.”

Penny Lancaster, Loose Women host, married to Rod Stewart

“I blamed the stress of lockdown for my menopausal symptoms until I lost it one evening in April last year.

“I was calling the boys [sons Alastair, 15, and Aiden, ten] down for dinner, and getting impatient. When they eventually came into the kitchen, rowing, I screamed and threw a plate of dinner across the room and burst into tears. Rod was worried for me. We’re honest and talk openly about everything, but I didn’t know how to explain why I was feeling the way I did…

It wasn’t until I spoke to a specialist about two months ago that I started taking HRT. She was a woman who’d been through it and knew what she was talking about. She reached out and pulled me to the other side!

“The menopause freaked me out at first. I thought: ‘This is the end of the road. I’m not going to have any more sex appeal, I’m not going to be as lenient or forgiving. I’ve got to say goodbye to the old Penny and say hello to the new one.’ I felt it was all shutting down around me.”

[From Hello Magazine]

I am a few months away from 49 and menopause is hitting me hard. I feel grumpy, depressed and hungry most days. Exercise helps, and I’m sure cleaning up my diet would help too, but I often stress eat candy and ice cream. Also, I’ve gained weight and haven’t been able to lose it for some reason. (See last sentence.) I’m trying to be more gracious to my loved ones and to practice self care but everything feels “off” and I don’t feel like myself. I’m going to look into HRT and see if that can help me, as several of the women interviewed by Hello! Mentioned.

I appreciate that Hello! is increasing awareness of menopause and that they’re encouraging employers to take this pledge. You can learn more about it here and they also have a guide to menopause employment law in the UK. It’s about raising awareness of the symptoms and supporting staff members going through menopause. I think that means more time off and compromise when we seem “off” or get upset at things. This is a great initiative, especially because so many workplaces are run by men. I wish it would catch on the US, but we have a much different, more employer-centric approach to work.

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