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Sarah Vine: Woman on the verge - a menopause diary

November 24th 2015 / Sarah Vine Google+ Sarah Vine / 6 comments


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Sarah Vine was feeling constantly ill, but realised she was entering the menopause. This is part one of her story...

The menopause, I discover, is a bit like Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition: no one expects it. I certainly didn’t. It came upon me like a thief in the night, quietly and almost imperceptibly robbing me of my energies. It wasn’t until most of my faculties had deserted me that I finally woke up one morning and realised something was going on.

The symptoms are no secret: irregular periods, heavy bleeding, hot sweats and flushes, exhaustion, dry skin, muscles aches, joint pain, headaches. Naturally, I had the lot (I never do things by halves). I was also dogged by an almost imperceptible yet very definite feeling of anxiety: a kind of nagging sadness - not quite depression, but a sense of apathetic indifference to most things.

I wanted to sleep a lot, especially in the afternoons. Suddenly the world would all seem far too exhausting, and sleep, my body was telling me, was the answer. I would make some excuse at work, go home, walk straight upstairs and curl up in bed, falling unconscious in seconds, like a child.

It was my husband, bless him, who first wondered whether I shouldn’t see the doctor. He’s always been a far better observer of my state of mind than I am, and he broached the subject with characteristic delicacy. I was taking regular exercise, eating well, looking after myself generally - but it wasn’t right to be this tired. Maybe my thyroid medication (I have a very s-l-o-w one) needed adjusting?

In my heart of hearts, though, I knew it wasn’t that. I’ve managed my thyroid condition for almost two decades: the symptoms are not the same. The thyroid always affects my concentration, and I also crave carbohydrates; this was different. If anything, my appetite was low. Food, always one of my greatest pleasures, left me utterly cold.

The diagnosis, following a blood tests, was conclusive: there was not a jot of oestrogen left in my system. I had, quite simply, run out of gas.

This, I must confess, made me feel a little bit sad and sorrowful. I was also a little shocked. I’m only 48; the average age for entering the menopause in the UK is between 51 and 58. Why the hurry?

Emotionally, too, it felt rather complicated. I rang my husband to tell him and found myself apologising. Don’t be silly, he said, you’ve nothing to apologise for, he said. Later, he sent me a sweet text message saying I love you, with lots of little emojis, like a teenager. It made me feel immeasurably better.

Come back next week for the next part of Sarah's menopause story as she makes a decision on HRT or subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to read it here

Are you going through the menopause? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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  • MARS
  • November 25th 2015

Thanks so much Sarah. Beautifully summarised. Being lots in press recently about menopause and the build up to the memo known as the peri is just awful. Foggy brain, insomnia, tearfulness and as you said a sense of real sadness. Anxiety the worst part I find and does affect your concentration also. So many symptoms. Interesting must get my thyroid tested again.. Bio identical hormones another option heard great results as well as herbal rememdies matter of finding what suits you. Good luck to you and look forward to hearing what you go for and what helps bring back some happiness and lessens that anxiety.

  • Fiona
  • November 24th 2015

Spot on. All of this - and more - mirror my own on-going experience. Before, I could never understand why women of a 'certain age' (terrible phrase...) looked as though they'd given up trying on life . Now, at the age of 48, I know why - they were too knackered, weepy and brain fogged to take on anything else. The accompanying anxiety with the perimenopause was a shock and the one thing I'm most frustrated about. Nothing is really wrong. Except that I feel so tense it's as if an elephant is sat on my chest. Subsequently I can't eat, I get tired and I'm quite likely to burst into tears. Apart from that...!
I don't think it's all bad though. And there are advantages to being an old,mad, hormonal bat! I look forward to celebrating the good and commiserating with the bad in your new column.

  • karine
  • November 24th 2015

Dear Sarah, thanks for sharing your experience. I have been reading a lot around this , hrt, bhrt, and I find it all so controversial. How can Mrs, Misses and doctors swear Have such opposed opinions??? I am 50y old and was prescribed patches. I bought it (+50£) but I am not convinced I want to start on it. I am wondering what someone like you with so much information available will go for... I look foreard to reading your columns! Many thanks Karine

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