(My) Menopausal Madness. #WorldMenopauseDay2019

by Bretta Townend-Jowitt @Headspiration

Madness part 1 – the need to clarify my reason for blogging. Earlier in my career I suffered from a lack of knowledge and understanding my employers had around fertility treatment, 14 years later I expected significant improvement, however, now at menopause age I’m discovering the same lack of knowledge and understanding of this topic too.

Madness part 2 – the fact my blog is not actually about the menopause but the peri-menopause (this being the transition period leading up to the menopause during which we experience symptoms), but as so few people use this term or in some cases actually know it!

Madness part 3 – the lack of understanding and knowledge we all hold around the subject and its symptoms. We will have all heard about hot flushes, heavier periods, frequency changes to periods and starting to get hair where we don’t want it but how many more symptoms do you know about even if you are currently in the transitional stage of peri-menopause? They include: difficulty sleeping; low mood or anxiety; skin irritability; palpitations; panic attacks; joint stiffness and problems with memory and concentration.

Did you know this period of hormonal change can last for 4 to 8 years and for some up to 12 years!

Madness part 4 – the fact that we will all experience some symptoms and for some of us they can be severe and have a significant impact on the quality of our personal and working life. It is said 1 in 4 women will experience severe symptoms!

Madness part 5 – the fact these symptoms affect working life and we try to manage tiredness, memory changes and poor concentration plus the stress and embarrassment which may be detrimental to confidence levels.

Madness part 6 – it is still a taboo topic, one that is rarely spoken about, particularly in the workplace, unless through jokes and banter. The lack of awareness by employers of the impact symptoms have in our capacity to complete activities at work and which affect our well-being. We need to start speaking up; challenge negative menopausal stereotypes and encourage our friends and colleagues to do the same.

Madness part 7 – the lack of support and reasonable adjustments in the workplace. There are practical things we can do and things our employers can put in place, e.g. use technology for reminders; have an emergency bag with a space to store it; ensure we are able to control the temperature of our working environment. Most importantly we need employers to be menopause aware and be supportive of women going through the peri-menopause.

Madness part 8 – actually no madness at this point other than my ability to concentrate to complete the blog! A positive last point. As a head I can make a difference in my own school by being menopause aware; creating policy and protocols and making measures and adjustments. I also pledge to tweet and blog about the topic to ensure all schools are better informed.

 

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