'I left my job because of the menopause’
- Credit: Contributed
There was a time a few years ago when Karen Hatchett felt she couldn’t cope. NIght sweats, anxiety, brain fog. She was, like many women, spiralling in the depths of a menopause journey.
"I started to notice a change in myself, but couldn’t actually pinpoint what was wrong, or the reason why I was feeling the way I did," Karen says.
“I just didn’t feel myself anymore, both at home and at work. Somewhere along the line I just felt I had lost 'me'. Then out of the blue I started to suffer with anxiety, memory loss, brain fog, sometimes forgetting the simplest of words and finding it difficult to string a sentence together. At first it was funny and I would laugh it off, but there is only so much joking around you can do before the worry sets in. At one point, it got so bad that I thought I was suffering with early onset dementia, this then led to more anxiety, which led to more brain fog and so on, it felt like a viscous circle.
“Having spent most of my career in HR working for a leading UK Travel Company, together with various other office management roles, I was very familiar with fast-paced working environments and stressful workloads. However, despite this, work became extremely difficult. I was struggling to keep up workloads, I was forgetting things, constantly anxious and stressed and my confidence hit rock bottom. I felt worthless and miserable and just couldn’t cope anymore with the daily challenges.
“If I had a large intray I’d get hot and sweaty and panicky about it. I reduced my hours and eventually left.
“It’s just terrible. Thinking about menopause hasn’t been considered essential, but so many women are leaving the workplace because of their symptoms. Women sometimes with 20 or 30 years’ experience. It’s costing companies money in the long run – when they could just have procedures in place to help.”
Karen says there should be more publicity around the topic, especially relating to the workplace.
“I was quite lucky in that my husband has a good job and financially I was OK, I could leave my job without consequences financially, but that’s not the case for everyone. If I’m honest, I was relieved to have left because I got in such a state about it.”
Not once at this point, Karen says, did she associate her struggles with peri-menopause. “I didn’t even know what peri-menopause was. I thought menopause was something old ladies suffered from, with the 'typical' symptoms of hot flushes and mood swings.
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“It was only when I visited my doctor, when he suggested I maybe entering peri-menopause, that the penny dropped. Much as I didn’t want to admit I was getting older, the age bracket did seem to fit."
Karen says she was told, in so many words, to go away and get on with it as menopause is part of life, not an illness.
“But the symptoms can be so debilitating. I was flabbergasted that there didn’t seem to be any help available. When I asked about HRT, I was told it was not something to consider at that point in time, to go away and research it and we could perhaps consider this later down the line if needs be.
“So, I started to carry out my own personal research and it soon became apparent that menopause support was virtually non-existent.
“My research and investigations led me towards an opportunity to enter into the menopause wellness world - joining forces with nurses, nutritionists and psychotherapists offering menopause education to women in the private sector.
"So together we set about creating an inspiring, informative and educational programme and following this Menopause Wellness East Anglia was launched back in November 2019.
"Women are not receiving the help and support needed with their menopause and associated symptoms. Many can’t even get to see a doctor let alone discuss treatments. We hope to change this by offering much needed support by way of our workshops."
Today, Karen is determined to spread the word about peri and post menopause. Pushing it higher up on the agenda. Making sure as many women as possible have access to information and advice that so often lacks at every point they think to turn.
Menopause Wellness East Anglia offers a series of sell-out two-hour presentations across the region, in a safe space, where everything from HRT to natural therapy is on the table.
“It’s like a two hour doctor’s appointment," Karen explains. “We have specialist medical professionals there to answer any questions. We’re not there to advise or prescribe but to educate and inform so these women have all the information that’s out there for them. Then they can go away and make a plan. Go to the doctor and let them know what they want to happen.”
Already there have been nine events this year, with the next planned in King’s Lynn on November 21.
“The feedback has been fantastic. We cap the events at around 24 people because otherwise it’s too much pressure on the nurses – we want to give them enough time to speak to everyone who attends properly.”
Lunch or afternoon tea is provided after the sessions, encouraging open communication and sharing of experiences – often something the women attending haven’t been able to do yet.
“No one really speaks about it do they?
“I know my mum didn’t. People have been embarrassed to speak about menopause – even though it’s a stage of life so many of us are going through. If we don’t talk, nothing will change.
“We have women in tears when they come to see us as they tell their stories. They finally get it all out. They’re under so much pressure and aren’t looking after themselves, they’re just trying to get through the day with their symptoms. This can’t keep happening, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Find out more at menopausewellnesseast.co.uk
November 21, 2021, Knights Hill Hotel, Kings Lynn
January 22, 2022 - Wivenhoe House, Colchester
January 30, 2022 - Knights Hill Hotel, Kings Lynn
February 5, 2022 - Barnham Broom Hotel, Nr Norwich
February 17, 2022 - Seckford Hall Hotel, Nr Ipswich
March 20, 2022 - Wivenhoe House, Colchester
March 27, 2022 - Knights HIll Hotel, Kings Lynn
More than 50% of the UK population are women, yet female issues often fly under the radar as ‘difficult’ or ‘embarrassing’ to talk about. This week we’re shining a spotlight on a topic that will affect every single one of our female readers – and the men in their lives. Menopause. With symptoms ranging from hot sweats, to crippling depression, anxiety, brain fog and weight gain, it’s one of the single most important changes to a woman’s wellbeing in mid and later life. Please read, share and talk.
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