Chasing Normal: My Perimenopause Journey Back to Myself

Hello lovelies,

Given that it’s something I’ve spoken about many times, I thought it was about time I shared my own perimenopause journey so far in one post, so here it goes.

I was minding my own business in my mid-thirties when perimenopause came and gatecrashed the party. No, it wasn’t early menopause, and I wasn’t too young, as the doctors insisted. But this isn’t just a tale of hormonal chaos; it’s a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and embracing the rollercoaster of changes that come with perimenopause. Are you ready?

Mood Merry Go Round

I went from being a social butterfly to wrestling with anxiety. I found myself panicking over the slightest thing, things that would never usually bother me. I was moody, I would burst into tears for no reason, I would take offence to the slightest thing, and I would be enraged over the tiniest inconvenience. I felt like a stranger in my own skin.

A Desperate Diagnosis

I was so desperate to feel “back to normal” that I accepted the diagnosis of depression and readily took the antidepressants prescribed to me. Once the initial side effects of nausea wore off, I didn’t feel depressed anymore, but I didn’t feel much of anything. I was living beneath the surface; my senses were dulled, and whilst I was thankful not to feel so sad or anxious anymore, I didn’t want to feel numb forever.

New Year, No Changes

After a year, I worked with my doctor to wean myself off of them, and I also started seeing a therapist. It was a struggle, and when a year later, I didn’t feel any better, I went back to the doctor. 

After looking at my symptoms and speaking with my mum, I was still convinced I was perimenopausal. The doctor didn’t dismiss me but sent me for blood tests, which came back showing inflammation, so I went for more blood tests, still showing inflammation. I think I had three rounds of blood tests and gave up because the doctors could find nothing wrong. 

After Three months, I was put back on antidepressants. A few months later, I started having night sweats. I went back to the doctor, who increased my antidepressant dosage, even though I was certain I wasn’t depressed, and sent me for more blood tests, which came back normal.

Fast forward another three months, and I was back again as I was now getting hot flashes, although, at the time, I didn’t realise that’s what they were—more blood tests, blood pressure tests and still nothing. The doctor said he would refer me to a private doctor.

Add a Dash of a Toxic Workplace

By this time, I had been having a lot of time off for the various tests, doctors appointments and feeling crap. My boss was adding to my woes as he was creating a completely toxic environment and offloading much of his work on me. I was utterly overwhelmed at a time when I needed support.

I booked myself in for a full medical, which I fell down the stairs on my way to! The doctor told me that I should go back to therapy, ask my GP for a 24-hour blood pressure monitor as mine was coming up high and change my antidepressants. I did all three of those things.

After this, my boss asked me to go to occupational health, which I did. I was doing everything that was asked of me, but the overwhelm was taking over. After the occupational health, where I told them everything, I took two months off sick from work. I couldn’t cope with it all anymore.

And One Dollop of COVID

When I returned to work, the rumours of COVID were swirling. I became pretty ill shortly after. I had a bad cough and flu-like symptoms. We had already been advised to work from home if we felt unwell, which I did, even though I could barely get out of bed. My boss was his usual unsupportive self and wanted me to go into the office, but then we went into lockdown.

My perimenopause symptoms were now at an all-time high, but given the state of the world, they would have to wait. Nothing more could be done as far as the doctors were concerned anyway. 

I didn’t mind the first lockdown despite it happening just before my 39th birthday. It suited my anxiety to stay at home and see no one. I ate and drank to soothe my pain and enjoyed spending time with the husband and Toby, who we had now had for six months.

Meltdown Milestone

I just plodded on for another three years, riding the emotional rollercoasters. I continued with therapy. I came off the antidepressants because they didn’t seem to be making a positive difference, and I even came off of the contraceptive pill because I was convinced that this was why my blood tests weren’t showing I was perimenopausal.

In 2023, it all came to a head. I found myself in a constant cycle of rage, irritation and complete and utter despair. My thoughts were becoming darker and darker, and there were many times that I felt that I didn’t want to live anymore. After seeing the Davina McCall documentary, I decided to try the doctors again. I was over 40 now, after all.

I did quite a bit of research online, and one important thing I did learn is that.

Blood tests aren’t necessarily the best indication of perimenopause. Symptoms are.

I decided to use the private healthcare I had been paying for, thinking that I would have more chance of being taken seriously. The first doctor, a female, did listen, and we agreed that I would have blood tests, but these were to rule out anything else. These were done the following day.

My results came a few days later; there were some slight anomalies, and they asked me to book another appointment to discuss with the doctor, which I did. Unfortunately, I had a different doctor. This time, a man, who was literally shrugging his shoulders at me. He told me my results did not indicate perimenopause, and he didn’t know what I wanted him to do. 

The rage that I had been struggling so hard to contain came quickly to the fore, and I told him that I could not go on living like this. At this point, he backtracked, admitting that blood tests were not a good indicator of perimenopause. He said he would refer me to a face-to-face doctor. My private healthcare refused the face-to-face appointment, and I was back to square one.

I was furious. I made a formal complaint and decided to return to my NHS GP and just tell them I wanted HRT. I was booked in with a nurse, and when I arrived, she told me that she could not prescribe the initial HRT and I would need to see a doctor. She was very apologetic. She took my blood pressure, which was high; no surprises there. She gave me an app to monitor my blood pressure at home and told me which doctor to book with to discuss my results in a week. I left the surgery in tears.

The Turning Point

I arranged a call with the doctor, who was wonderful. She listened and seemed to understand genuinely. She said she would like to address the blood pressure issue. First, the readings weren’t great, and I was to go back on a 24-hour blood pressure monitor and have an ECG. I went back to the doctor and had the noisy machine fitted. It kept me awake all night. I went back to the doctor to have it removed and have my ECG. The blood pressure monitor, for some reason, hadn’t worked properly and hadn’t taken all of the readings, and what it had taken showed as high.

I left the surgery once again in tears and arranged to speak with the doctor to discuss. She said that whilst the readings were on the higher side, she wasn’t too concerned and agreed that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) would be the next best step. She did ask that I take a reading in a month and let her know. 

So, at the end of September 2023, I finally started HRT. At the time of writing, I have been on it for four months, and there has been a notable difference. I don’t suffer from hot flashes, my moods are significantly more stable, and I don’t have any more dark thoughts. I feel like I am slowly coming back to myself after all these years, and I am so excited.

Cheers to the Change

I feel very strongly about people learning about the menopause journey as it affects pretty much everyone in one way or another, so I have decided to set up a dedicated page on my website – Yes, I have a website now – where I will share all the helpful information I find with you.

Sharing is the best compliment! Don’t keep it to yourself—share this post with your friends! 

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