07815 426076 jenny@bohemianhr.com

Menopause is a Gift

11 Jul 2023

Thank you for taking part in this article which was born from a brilliant conversation we had over coffee not long ago… the topic of menopause came up, as it often does with me. I am most certainly in the middle of ‘The Change’ and your story had a lasting effect on me.  I am so delighted you have very kindly offered to share it within my HR community. 

 I think we are both hopeful that by sharing we are helping.  We are going to share your story through a series of questions and answers.

Nicky Jenkins, Head of Human Resources at RockRose Energy

Firstly, tell us a little about you…

I am, like many of us a mum, a wife, a sister and a daughter but also I am a passionate people person who has chosen HR as my career. I love delivering presentations and tolerate data gathering, care not a jot about hierarchy but love a good strategy, strive to be inclusive and am always open to learning.

I  have lived in and travelled to some amazing countries yet am a home bird at heart. I manage a full time career with the needs of a child diagnosed with a disability…so guilt is my middle name. I am an extrovert, a strong willed personality, a coach and a mentor. We all have a book in us but I probably have a series so keeping it brief is not my strong suit but I keep persevering.

When was it you were aware that you were in the menopause?

In my mid forties I began to experience hot flushes and due to IVF treatment was aware I might experience an early menopause but having no clue what that really meant just thought that I would have these ‘private summers’ and that would be it till a doctor put me on patches. I knew my mother had suffered badly with mood swings and severe migraines but I had never really looked into it or even thought about it till it started happening to me, and really couldn’t find a huge amount of information and what I did find was often very conflicting.

It was only when things got really bad with lack of sleep that I went to see a GP and by then I had already started to experience other major symptoms which I know now are menopausal but then just thought I was getting old, less tolerant and was losing confidence in myself and my abilities.

At that time, were we talking about the menopause as openly as we are now?  And were you aware of the symptoms and the options available to help?

Nobody talked about it and the list of symptoms I had all pointed more to a diagnosis of depression rather than menopause. I got upset by things I would normally not even  notice. I had no belief in myself as a mother, a professional as a human being. I was distracted had brain fog and was just generally exhausted and none of my friends or colleagues ever talked about anything other than hot flushes and night sweats (the safe topics) Mental Heath was still a bit taboo and trust me when you start competing with younger colleagues for promotions and opportunities the last thing you want to admit is that you feel miserable and can’t cope.

So I went to the GP and got put on HRT and if nothing else it finally meant I could sleep and the hot flushes practically disappeared. For my mental health I took a step sideways, started my own consultancy and only worked part-time so I could at least function as a mum and professional. I managed.

How did you access the valuable information needed to support and help you?

Finally Menopause became a hot topic and was talked about everywhere and it was like a light coming on to say…it’s not you…it’s your hormones but it doesn’t define you forever. The corelation between self-esteem, brain fog, irrational thinking all started to make so much sense and  I could really feel my old self returning.

With knowledge comes power, as they say.  How did you start to manage the menopause once you knew what was going on?

HRT, HRT, HRT..I cannot say enough how much it saved me. I am now off it but it really did get me through the worst bit.

I stopped drinking alcohol and eating sugar and processed foods so much to realign myself and the difference was amazing. Now I am out the other side I am not nearly as strict but that has helped with the changing body and slowing metabolism. I talked about it....to everyone and with everyone. If my job has taught me anything it is how to have a difficult conversation and it’s not difficult and should never be embarrassing. It is natural and we need to be open about it. I used a lot of humour to diffuse situations and explain why I was responding a certain way but it was never an excuse, nor should it be, it was just the way it was.

When we spoke you said that it is your superpower, what do you mean by that?

If I could have told my 20 year old self I would never have painful periods again, or worry about contraception or getting pregnant by mistake….that I wouldn’t have PMT or find myself crying for no reason about the stupidest thing (yellow pages adverts were a killer at that time of the month!!) That I genuinely would not care what people thought of me or how I looked, dressed reacted I would never have believed you. Menopause gave me back me. I am a mum, wife, pet wrangler, sister, niece, Head of a function at work, Coach, Mentor still, but more importantly I now have me back am proud to be a bit loud, creative, daring, funny and  happy.

Finally, tell us about the light at the end of the tunnel, the post-menopausal life?

The post menopause world is for me a revelation and a new start. I care a lot less about the external factors and so much more about the internal ones. I say no more easily and appreciate the small things even more. ( A good nights sleep is just the best!).

I always remember someone saying older women are just invisible, well who wouldn’t want that superpower sometimes…being able to sneak in as you are not seen as a threat, having that don’t give a damn attitude (backed up by years of experience) to cut through the BS .

I believe that so many older women leave the workforce to set up their own companies because of this very change in their own perception and lack of necessity to put up with the politics.

I have always been an optimist so I do believe that Menopause was a gift not for what it did to my body or brain but for the lessons it taught me and how it brought back the real me.


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