Menopause is a universal experience for women (eventually), but no two women go through menopause the same way. If you’d like to tell us about your menopause experience, please answer eight questions here and include a photo of yourself. If you’d rather tell your story anonymously, let us know.
Our goal is to make menopause more mainstream, something we can talk about without whispering. Read about our menopause mission here.
Here we feature the story of Mary Reed of Austin, Texas.
When did you go into menopause?
I do not have a clear idea. Maybe late 40s’s? But is that peri-menopause?
What did you know about menopause before you hit it?
Nothing! Just as no one told me much of anything before I got my period, no one told me anything about menopause. Therefore, I had to understand it and manage it myself at first and it was rough. This challenge was made more difficult by the fact that “menopause” has a bad name and by the fact that all of my friends were younger than me. None of them wanted to talk with me about menopause, much less understand what I was experiencing.
What you wish you had known?
Everything. And that menopause was actually a freeing experience.
Most vexing aspect of menopause?
Not knowing. The effects of declining hormones for me. Panic attacks, erratic moods, intense periods, night sweats combined with hot flashes. Also conflicts and hurt feelings because I did not understand what was happening to me nor did my husband. It was rough!
No more periods; no more emotional roller coasters.
How did you treat the uncomfortable parts of menopause?
- When I had panic attacks, I called my youngest sister. I had the attacks after the sun went down during the time my husband was working away from home. I was alone, and being alone was scary to me then, which was an unfamiliar feeling because I had not been someone who ever felt afraid. During those times, I needed a human connection–someone who would talk to me although often, it was just me talking as I worked through my anxiety and fear. I am sure that I could have called a close friend too, but my sister was the first person I thought of.
- I experienced kindness. My husband was beside himself when I was “going crazy” because I was no longer the woman he had fallen in love with and he had no idea what to do. So, he called his mom and she came over and cleaned our house, bought us groceries, paid our bills (because I was unable to work and I was the primary breadwinner) and in doing so, provided me with some of the peace I needed.
- I sought medical hep. I met with a variety of practitioners in an effort to get my life back on track, but nothing worked at first. One highly recommended doctor dismissed me as being depressed. Yes, I was, but I was a lot more than that. I did not start taking anti-depressants. Another doctor ran a bunch of tests, but never provided me with any useful diagnoses or treatments. Then I consulted with Connie Ryan, a nurse practitioner at Central Family Practice in Austin. I knew her from my days working at Planned Parenthood of Austin as its marketing/community outreach director. Connie took my symptoms seriously; she treated me with compassion and understanding, and after a series of tests she put me on bio-identical hormones. Almost overnight, my mood swings, my night sweats and hot flashes subsided. I could sleep again! And my relationship with my husband improved. Bottomline, I got my life back.
Most memorable menopause story?
My panic attacks and periods that prevented me from leaving the house because I bled so much.
Three words to describe your menopause experience?
Periods finally over.