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Personal Stories

Please find below personal stories from the Warwick community. If you'd like to share a personal story please get in touch at .

Carers Staff Network

Read stories from the Carers Staff Network below:

"I was completely unaware that what I was doing was a carer role and of the effect it was having on me. I didn't think about reaching out for support myself."

"I just wanted to let you know some of the developments in my life since I attended the first carer’s meeting here at the Uni. I found the first meeting really helpful as I suddenly felt less on my own in my carer’s role. I also stopped feeling somewhat sorry for myself as other people shared their experiences.

At the second meeting there were 2 new people who both have experience as carers of people with Alzheimer’s (which my husband has). They both spoke with me after the meeting and gave me contact names and places to look at for day care and support groups. I got on the phone that afternoon and arranged for my husband to try a day at the Alzheimer’s Society day centre the following Tuesday. I also arranged for us to go to a carers’ support group on the Saturday. When we were there we met the Alzheimer navigator who had been recommended to me at our carers’ meeting! We chatted and she rang me on the Monday and then came to visit the following Monday. She had lots of advice and leaflets to give me so I have a lot of reading now! My husband has been twice to the day centre and, although he found it quite noisy, he did enjoy it and will be going again."

Disabled Staff Network

Read stories from the Disabled Staff Network below:

"I have Crohn's disease which is essentially inflammation on my bowel. My department have been brilliant at supporting my condition. They got me (and another colleague) a fridge to keep our medication in, I have a new standing desk to help with my chronic fatigue, there are lots of accessible disabled toilets in the building we're in and they let me work from home one day a week. My boss/colleagues are really understanding of my condition".

You can read more personal stories of digestive conditions on the Guts UK website.

"I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2002, having worked for the University for 13 years. Swollen, painful joints made it increasingly difficult to work in a laboratory environment and I was fortunate to be able to move to more office based work. I received a workstation assessment from Occupational Health and have since been provided with equipment to help my needs (e.g. an optical trackball, a narrower keyboard and voice activation software). This support from the University has been very helpful and has enabled me to continue working full time".

You can read more personal stories of arthritis on the Arthritis Action website.

"I got diagnosed with endometriosis in 2008 after suffering with many symptoms for years before. It is not something that GP’s were aware of and my symptoms were linked to other conditions such as IBS, anxiety or it’s just what your period is meant to be like.

My symptoms were extreme pain during ovulation, pelvic pain and cramping before and during my period, heavy bleeding whist on my period, also pain during and after sex. It also caused issues with my bladder and bowel.

I started off on the combined contraceptive pill to stop my periods but I was still getting the pain (it’s a myth that even through you’re not having a period you can still get pain). I was fed up of taking strong pain killers and wanted something else done.

A Dr who finally listened to me sent me for various tests Ultrasounds, CT scan and then finally I had a laparoscopy where the surgeon gave me the official diagnosis of endometriosis. Sadly they didn’t take any of the tissue away but it was fantastic to be given a reason for all my years of pain.

I was advised to go on the progesterone only pill as the combined pill contains oestrogen and this can cause more of the endometriosis tissues to grow. For a while it helped and I stayed on this for years.

As I knew I had completed my family, (I have been blessed with 2 beautiful sons – as this condition can cause women fertility issues) I decided that I wanted to look into getting a hysterectomy, at the age of 39 this was not something the consultant was happy with at the age I was. I agreed to try out the Mirena coil to see if this would help – I had to have it removed after 6 weeks as it was causing me so much pain and was also making my depression worse.

The consultant finally decided after I turned 40 that if I was still wanting to have one he would perform a hysterectomy for me. I decided that I would have everything taken out so in November 2014 I had my cervix, womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. I had to have this performed abdominally as this way they could remove any endometriosis.

I am really glad that I had this done as when I had my follow up appointment with the consultant he told me that my surgery had taken a while and been complicated as he had found a large fibroid, my bladder was stuck to my bowel, there was endometrioses tissue in a lot of my pelvic area and even in the pouch of douglas (which I’d never even heard of). Although my recovery from the operation wasn’t easy and I went straight into surgical menopause it was the best decision I made. I was advised not to take HRT as it may encourage the endometriosis tissue to start to grow again (they can never fully take it all out) and I also have breast cancer in the family.

A hysterectomy is not always the answer but for me I have a better quality of life now, I know that some of the pain has stated to return but this can be managed through normal painkillers. I am treating my menopause symptoms with alternative methods and 5 years on I am a much happier person than I have been years ago.

Through having endometriosis I have found support and friends through social media and been able to raise awareness of this relatively unheard of condition. There has been recently in the news various articles highlighting it and one of my friends was involved in the calendar that was produced to raise awareness to help others. Endometriosis UK (endometriosis-uk.org) helped me out enormously and they have online community and a helpline what you can get in touch, I know that it has and will affect many women (and their families) for years to come – but raising awareness of this awful disease is something I am passionate about"

You can read more personal stories of endometriosis on the Endometriosis UK website.

"It seems that dyslexia is still considered a disability associated with stupidity or lack of intellect. I was diagnosed in France, where I grew up, at the age of 17. Teachers just assumed that I struggled with both English and French and therefore did not pick up on this. I was also asked if I would prefer attending a ‘special school’ once I was diagnosed. I moved over to England to attend University and in 2014 I was awarded a 1st from Coventry University in Animal Science and Welfare. I began lecturing in 2014, I taught post 16 BTEC qualifications and first year veterinary nursing degree students. Throughout this time, I did not mention to my line manager or colleagues that I was dyslexic. I had to learn to hide it very well, dodging minute taking or avoiding reading out loud. I received my Diploma in Teaching and Training from the University of Warwick in 2017 with Outstanding in Teaching, still I felt uncomfortable admitting it to anyone. Once I decided to leave teaching, I started admitting that I was dyslexic (maybe it was because I didn’t care so much anymore), the reaction was not positive. Comments included – ‘how can you be a lecturer and be dyslexic?’, ‘You’re dyslexic but you teach?’. Needless to say these comment made it difficult to ever admit to any other employer that I have a learning disability.

I then started working in admin for an international company in Warwick. During the recruitment process, I was told that this sort of job would not suit someone with dyslexia. This affected my confidence but I persevered and got the job. I then had to start the process of hiding my disability. This was very stressful but I just about managed. I finished my one year maternity cover and then started working at the University of Warwick. I have never admitted on an application that I may need special requirements. I never thought that an employer would allow for extra time for an admin test and if they saw I was dyslexic automatically assume I couldn’t do the job.

Unfortunately, unconscious bias still exists and I wanted any employer to get to know me first before I admitted anything. Basically I wanted them to realise I could do the job regardless.

The Engineering Department at Warwick is the first place I’ve felt comfortable enough to talk about my dyslexia with colleagues and my line manager, and the response has been very positive".

"Having fibromyalgia feels like my body has been taken away from me, and has been replaced with a totally different one that is constantly in pain and reacts strangely to everything!

I was on my honeymoon in August 2016 and became ill with fever, muscle aches and widespread pain, and I have not got better since.

On returning home I was checked for various tropical diseases, and after many tests, it was determined I had an unknown virus and was suffering post-viral fatigue. A frightening and a frustrating six months later, with a worsening in symptoms, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This is a diagnosis of exclusion – this is the diagnosis you have after repeated blood tests, scans and assessments, and everything else has been ruled out.

My route to diagnosis it turns out, is actually fairly typical. It usually follows a significant event, such as a wedding or the birth of a child, or a traumatic experience, such as a car accident. The medical cause is still not known, but it appears that the nervous system becomes reset or hyper-sensitised, as it registers pain where there is no tissue damage. This does not mean the pain is imaginary – brain scans of people with fibromyalgia have shown a response that is similar to people with fractured bones. However in fibromyalgia, the brain is causing this pain, and not a physical injury.

The effect of this illness was that overnight I changed from an active person to one that struggled with mobility and became limited in everything I do by chronic pain. It feels as if I have flu every day. People don’t believe me when I say that, as if it is not possible to live with flu every day. But that bone-aching tiredness, the extreme sensitivity, the debilitating headaches, and the feeling that you have no idea how you are going to get out of bed or have a shower, as it just seems impossible that you have the energy to move, is how I feel every day. The pain also keeps me awake at night, and so disturbed, limited sleep has unfortunately become normal.

Fibromyalgia is also a condition that likes to embarrass you. Throughout the day I will have moments of high temperatures and sweating, followed by feeling freezing and shivering. I get shooting electrical pains down my arms and legs that can make me suddenly very clumsy and uncoordinated, and I can be extremely sensitive to touch so that a hug can be incredibly painful. Sometimes I have been in so much pain from someone touching me that I am convinced that they have broken a bone. Another exasperating symptom is ‘fibro fog’, where you can become incredibly forgetful. This has caused no end of awkward moments – such as completely forgetting my address when going to vote, being unable to remember my date of birth, and forgetting the alarm code to my house when trying to get back in!

Fibromyalgia has no cure and it is a life-long condition. The only option is to manage it. Pacing is a recommended approach, whereby you intersperse short periods of activity with rest, in order to prevent the ‘pay-back’ from too much exertion (a flare up of pain symptoms). I cope through acting as if I was normal, and planning how I’m going to get through just the next hour. Concentrating on just one hour I find more manageable, rather than a whole day which seems overwhelming. What has helped me most is swimming and hydrotherapy sessions with a physiotherapist and a group of fellow chronic pain sufferers. These have shown me that my body is still capable of some things. During lockdown, being without these has been akin to suddenly stopping a successful medicine, and I have been left feeling unable to manage the spikes in pain.

Fibromyalgia forces you to take life at a slower pace, which 4 years on, is still difficult accept.

More information on fibromyalgia can be found here."

"I am an academic member of staff employed in WMG. I have Multiple Sclerosis. As a result of this I live with a number of physical and other impairments including pain, fatigue, mobility problems, difficulties with vision and speech. I use a mobility scooter and a rollator to help me get around. It's probably fair to say that I am amongst the 'most' physically disabled colleagues within the University.

I arrived at Warwick early in 2019 having experienced some significant disability discrimination at a different institution. As a consequence of this I was not in a good place mentally and was very reluctant to ask for any adaptations, or even to discuss, my disability. I needn't have been concerned.

I have found WMG in particular to be very forward thinking when it comes to accommodating my disability and providing support so that I can make sure I contribute fully. For example, my disability related needs were taken into consideration in the allocation of office space for my whole team - we are now on the ground floor, with an accessible toilet (very important when you have MS) nearby. Furthermore, I have had two different line managers since my appointment at WMG. Both have been extremely supportive. Helping me to work out how best to manage my workload so that the M.S. doesn't get in the way.

As the Pandemic struck it became obvious that it would be dangerous for me to return to campus before any vaccination programme was in place. This wasn't a problem and I have been fully supported in working from home.

Professionally I have been given the opportunity to continue to make a difference doing what I love. I have recently been promoted and am so amazed to be in a place that values me as an academic and professional person - irrespective of the fact that I have M.S.

WMG is making a real effort to become a fully inclusive learning community. This is being done in a culture where difference is acknowledge and viewed as a strength. Likewise, I have joined the University of Warwick Staff Disability Network and have found myself part of an educational culture where it is ability not disability that counts. I would encourage any disabled colleagues considering applying for a position here at Warwick to apply."

You can read more stories of life with MS on the MS Trust website.

Menopause Staff Network

Read stories from the Menopause Staff Network below:

"How many times have women said their GP has dismissed their symptoms because they are “too young” to be menopausal in their opinion? Too many times, I hear you cry! And in my experience every time I went, which was about once every three months over a three year period (around age 41-44), I am now nearly 49.

"Oh no, you are far too young for that, you’re just depressed, take these anti-depressants and all will be fine”…Something told me this wasn’t right, and I resisted taking anti-depressants for a long time…

I got so exasperated and then fortunately on a less ‘cotton wool head’ day when I could explain myself clearly instead of not being able to find the words, and could stand up for myself without crying, after much eye rolling (I kid you not!) from the GP they agreed to send me for a blood test. “Oh, so there is a blood test? Why didn’t you make me aware of this and send me for one earlier?” (like 3 years ago)… So off I went… Low and behold my ‘FSH levels’ (my what?) were considerably high, so guess what, I was experiencing an early menopause.

Hallelujah! I just knew it! I felt such relief. At last there was a reason for my symptoms, my hunch was right all along, and I didn’t need to keep incorrectly grasping at what else might be causing all of this. It’s an age-old saying isn’t it that we know our own bodies!

The average age for women reaching menopause in the UK is 51. Peri-menopause (the bit leading up to reaching menopause) can last for 5-7 years, so there are many of us in our early to mid-forties going through symptoms. I now know that I had been experiencing peri-menopause and very extreme hormonal imbalance to boot! Who knew? I certainly had never heard of it before.

My symptoms had been fatigue, horrendous mood swings, sometimes I just felt like I wasn’t ‘me’, crying all the time, irregular periods, foggy head or cotton wool head, loss of confidence, not being able to find the right words, confusion, lack of clarity of thought, being hot all the time, weight gain, being bloated… It was just horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

It affected my work, relationships, and my confidence. I still have days when I struggle with ‘cotton wool head’ but I have come a long way. I have tried different HRT’s and in the early days consider that they were a life saver. I also took anti-depressants as unfortunately my experience had triggered depression, which apparently is not uncommon. I am now off all medication and am trying a homeopathic route. I decided on this as after a few years of HRT going well for me I started to not feel well again. Maybe I could try another HRT but my gut told me to try a homeopathic route together with a re-evaluation of what I eat and exercise, so watch this space!

I can now understand how my GP because of my age thought I was depressed and nothing else, as the symptoms were similar, however I do feel they could have sent me for the blood test sooner, as this would have reduced the period of time that I felt I was going mad, it was just an awful time in my life, and I don’t look back on it fondly at all!

I hope in sharing my story it will help someone else. I know not everyone will have exactly the same experience but it is so nice to be able to reach out and share hints and tips. It certainly helped me, and still does.

 

Top tips

Don’t be afraid to ask for help – don’t suffer in silence. You are not on your own. Millions of women are going through the peri-menopause and menopause so please know you are not on your own and there is help and support out there.

Talk to your family/partner/friends – they can’t help if they don’t know what’s going on. If you don’t know where to start, come along to our Menopause Staff Network, share with us or just listen to others, and/or read up on some of the information that is out there.

Suggested websites:

Every woman is different – your choice of treatment and what does or doesn’t work for you may not be the same for someone else, and that is ok."

"I had always known that my mum had gone through an ‘early menopause’ at 38 years old but in all honesty I didn’t really know what that meant and it was a bit of a taboo subject to discuss so we never did.

I have always suffered with heavy periods and migraines, so when 18 months ago these got progressively worse I did not think much of it and just got on with things. Often this meant me being near to tears at work because I had flooded, I dreaded any meeting that was over an hour long. I recall being sat in University House Café on a white chair and not wanting to move because I knew what had happened... Later spending half an hour in floods of tears in the toilet before heading home upset and embarrassed.

This sadly was not a one off occurrence, heavy periods combined with headaches/migraines became almost normal and something I realised I just had to deal with. At 41 years old, I hadn’t even considered this could be the linked to anything else.

I like to keep active and eat relatively healthy, tracking calories, regular gym member, lots of walking and cycling yet the weight was piling on, I was so tired and my joints were so painful. The joint pain and fatigue gradually got worse until even walking the dogs became an effort and I would need to take painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication before going to the gym.

I ended up visiting the GP and explained I didn’t feel well, I was tearful, exhausted and although I couldn’t put my finger on it I knew I just wasn’t myself. The GP asked the following questions:

  • How are things at home?
  • What do you do for work?
  • Do you have a lot of stress at work?
  • Do you have money worries?
  • How is your relationship?

I quickly realised he was diagnosing me with something I didn’t have – depression. Yes, I’m busy like everyone else, but in general my life is good and no I was not depressed. I was sent for a blood test.

The blood results came back and I was told my FSH levels were high (no idea what this meant and the doctor didn’t explain) but I was also pre-diabetic, this became the GP’s main focus and I was beside myself. I sat and cried in the doctors, I told him how I exercised regularly, tracked everything I ate so could provide a food diary and was a very active person and I really didn’t know what else I could do.

I left the surgery an emotional wreck with a leaflet on diabetes and a prescription for anti-depressants – which went in the bin.

*********

Fast-forward 8 months.

Due to my job role, I became involved in a project to raise awareness and remove stigma relating to the Menopause. We arranged an event and invited Henpicked to come and deliver a talk, along with a GP.

I went about planning the event, organising the logistics and attended the event to ensure it all ran smoothly – sat at the back so I could continue with some other work while this talk went ahead… it was of little interest to me. I was shocked at the turn out, the event was oversubscribed with staff sitting on the floor and standing round the edge of the room.

As Deborah Garlick from Henpicked started talking I realised she was describing me…

  • Heavy periods.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Hot flushes.
  • Aching joints.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Weight gain.
  • Loss of confidence.

I closed my laptop and started listening more closely, Deborah mentioned a word I had never heard before – Perimenopause. After the session, I had a chat with Deborah and explained my GP visit and FSH levels, Deborah suggested I go back to the doctors and request a different GP.

After a lengthy, emotional appointment, a wonderful GP confirmed I was perimenopausal and sent me for another blood test. I was fitted with a Mirena Coil in February this year that releases progesterone and has virtually stopped my periods. I have been back to the GP this week and they have now started me on a HRT gel that I apply to my legs once a day, it is early days so I am hopeful this helps the joint ache and other symptoms.

If I had not been in the job that I am and involved in this work, I would have been clueless as to what was making me feel so unwell, why I was lacking in confidence and why I was questioning my ability to do my job.

 

If anyone reading this is experiencing feelings and symptoms, you cannot explain, please do not ignore it, speak to a GP and speak to colleagues at Warwick in the Menopause Support Group. There is so much information available and the more we can do to raise awareness will help other women who may be struggling or taking anti-depressants when they are not depressed!"

"Six weeks after having my second child I fell apart, I was only 24. I literally couldn’t think, or sleep, I was angry, tearful, and often full of rage. I truly believed I was going mad and was going to end up in a mental institute. I cried for hours and my poor husband just did not know what to do.

I spent the year backwards and forwards to my doctors, it’s because you have a new-born baby, it’s because he gets you up at night. No one would listen. I was put on antidepressants, there answer to everything.

After much toing and froing I was referred to the hospital for what everyone was telling me was bad PMS. I had blood tests but going back all those years ago I lacked confidence and did not question when they put me HRT. On the estrogen section I was great, however whenever I took the progesterone I was like a different person. I was so angry that one day I went into my bedroom and pushed the chest of draws over my door so the kids could not get in. I was afraid I may just lose the plot altogether with them. I often sat in the dark and just cried relentlessly.

Fast forward to when I was 29 and my husband sat in the consultants room with me and begged them to help me and only then did it all come out. Apparently at 24 I had premature ovarian shutdown, basically my ovaries had just died and I had the hormone levels of a 70 year old. They said they had not told me earlier as they were worried how I would take it due to my age!

Apparently I was also allergic to synthetic progesterone and there were no other options for progesterone at that time. I had by this time tried about 10 different HRT’s. Although I was shocked I was also really relieved, I was not going mad. The impact of not being able to have more children was hard but I realised I was really grateful for the 2 I already had.

At 29 I had to have a full hysterectomy including the removal of my cervix and my shriveled up ovaries. My children were still very young so it was a difficult time, and I was then moved onto estrogen only after the surgery.

At 54 I am still on estrogen only, if I try to stop it I am unable to sleep. Even with it I still struggle with sleep. I am also taking sertraline due to having anxiety problems, I believe they are both related to each other. Since my ovaries shriveled and died I have struggled, and sertraline along with estrogen does seem to help. Unfortunately I still do struggle with some things, tiredness and lack of energy being the worst.

I truly believe they need to stop looking at a women’s age and look at her symptoms. I have now been on HRT for 30 years which does worry me but the alternative is even scarier. I am pleased that it is starting to be spoken about more widely and hopefully more women will get the help they need sooner, it’s time to speak out!"

Straight after having my daughter via IVF at 33 I went back to using the contraceptive pill to balance my hormones and make me feel more like me again as well as for contraceptive purposes. However, looking back at how I felt and what my body was doing during my thirties I think I went into a peri menopausal, hormonal rollercoaster after messing with my hormones during IVF.

I was made to stop using the contraceptive pill due to being at risk of blood clots when I was 39 and that is when my symptoms started, as I now understand that the pill had been keeping my oestrogen levels topped up and so when I was taken off it, the symptoms came thick and fast. I started to feel really awful, constantly joyless, always tired but not able to sleep through the night, no energy, mood swings, memory loss, brain fog, aching joints, virtually no libido and many other physical and emotional symptoms.

I was fit and healthy and loved to run and even completed my first marathon just after my 40th birthday but I lost my passion for running and my joy for life in general. I hadn’t got a clue why I was feeling the way I did as I didn’t know that the menopause caused such a wide variety of symptoms. I also didn’t know anything about the peri menopause and I only figured out what was going on when my periods started to become erratic, and I turned to doctor google. I then remembered my mum saying that she went through the menopause in her early 40’s and it all clicked into place, I was starting to go through the menopause.

I decided to go to my GP for some help as I knew that I couldn’t carry on feeling the way that I did. I described all of my symptoms to her, most of which she then dismissed, and she then concentrated on the fact that I had said that I no longer feel joy and that I would cry for no reason. She was convinced that I was simply depressed and wanted me to take anti-depressants, I knew that I wasn’t and that I was menopausal and taking anti-depressants wasn’t right for me. She offered to do two blood tests six weeks apart to see what my hormones were doing, the first one came back stating that I was definitely menopausal and the second one said that I definitely wasn’t. At this point in time, I didn’t know much about the menopause and I didn’t realise that blood tests aren’t a very accurate way of diagnosing it as it is more symptom led and that blood tests just show a snapshot in time.

Not long after my first appointment with the GP I saw that there was a talk about menopause at work and I went along. This talk was eye opening and life changing for many reasons, but it was there that I learnt I was able to request to speak to the female health expert at my GP’s surgery. Sadly, when I asked at my surgery to speak to the GP who was the expert in women’s health, I learnt that there wasn’t one even though it is a big practice, and there wasn’t an expert in menopause so the receptionist booked me in with a female GP of a similar age to myself who they thought might be helpful. The GP I was appointed was very good but not overly knowledgeable, but she was happy to prescribe me HRT based on the research that I had independently done following the talk I had attended at work. I was put onto HRT patches which provided me with both oestrogen and progesterone. I started out on a low dose but after 3 months I needed to increase the dose as although I could feel a bit of a difference, a lot of my symptoms were still there. As time went on, I needed to keep increasing the dose again and again and ended up wearing two and half patches which wasn’t ideal. Then the national patch shortage came about, and I couldn’t get hold of the patches anywhere and had to go without HRT for a number of months. It was at this point that my GP said that she couldn’t offer me any further help as she didn’t really know how to help me as she didn’t have enough knowledge in the area and advised that I went private.

I was very fortunate that I was able to afford to go private and one of the best menopause clinics in the country, Newson Health, is a short drive away from me. My appointment with them was great as it felt just amazing to be listened to by someone who was able to offer support, understanding and time to listen. Following further blood tests that I had had through my GP surgery I was prescribed Oestrogel by the menopause specialist to be used in combination with a Mirena coil and to be reviewed in three months. I was also very lucky that my GP would prescribe the HRT I needed on advisement from the specialist. At my three-month review with the menopause specialist and following further blood tests my oestrogen was increased to be reviewed in a further few months. It was at my later review that I was advised that my testosterone level was super low, which explained that although I was feeling much better with most of my symptoms, I was still very tired and lacking in energy and my brain fog was still quite bad and my libido was non-existent which it had been for a number of years. I just hadn’t realised that this was related to hormones and had assumed that everyone of my age felt similar. I was prescribed Testogel through my GP and within a few weeks I was feeling amazing. My energy levels were back to where they used to be even if I hadn’t slept that well, my brain fog had improved and my muscles were toned for the first time in years despite always being very fit and active.

However it isn’t just HRT that has helped me. I have adapted my diet and although I never drank much alcohol, I no longer drink alcohol that triggers night sweats and other symptoms. I have also used acupuncture to help with anxiety. I continue to be active and enjoy running and going to the gym to help combat symptoms such as depression and weight gain. As my natural hormone levels continue to fluctuate, I am still experiencing some of the symptoms of the perimenopause and I am always looking at ways to continue to help myself through this journey.

I have become very interested in educating myself further when it comes to the menopause and have read many books on the subject as well as watched TV programmes, Instagram live chats, have attended seminars and talks and have also listened to many hours of podcasts. I also wanted to talk to other people going through the same thing but because I was in my early 40’s when I started this journey most of my friends weren’t in the same stage as me. So when I saw that there was a Menopause Support Network starting up at work, the University of Warwick, I went along. It wasn’t very well attended but I continued to attend and then I volunteered to become the Menopause Support Network co-chair along with another attendee. We started to get more people talking about the menopause and got more people coming along to the meetings and then we went into lockdown. Since the pandemic started, we have created a Teams site for the network where people can discuss all things menopausal in a safe space, as well as organising and hosting various events and I have also become a menopause mentor, guiding and helping other women at work through their journey.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to pay for private advice, and hence act as my own advocate in seeking the treatment that I need. Being part of and leading a network of women going through a similar journey to myself has given me the confidence to reach out and support others, both friends and strangers alike.

Watch videos showcasing lived experiences of menopause on the Leadership and Management Development website here.

Working Parents Staff Network

Read stories from the Working Parents Staff Network below:

"I returned to work full-time when my son was 6 months old and it was a challenging and emotional time. As well as adjusting to not being with my baby every day and overcoming the feelings this caused, I was trying to pick up where I’d left off at work and absorb all the changes that had happened. It was a lot to juggle, my confidence hit rock bottom professionally and it took a long time before I started to regain some confidence. It really helped to have the opportunity to talk to other people who were going through the same, as well as those that had already been through it and could provide valuable help and advice."

"Having a baby rocks your world and it can be hard to manage both your own and others’ expectations about how you will juggle your family and career. I would have found it very helpful to talk through some of the very difficult decisions and transitions you have to make, in confidence and with someone who had already been through it."

"Having been out of the world of work for over 10 months, I was nervous about coming back. I knew that my children would be ok and settled in nursery, but I felt that I had lost a lot of self-confidence in a professional sense. I was afraid to mention this to anyone at work as I didn’t want them to lose confidence in me. Therefore, I felt a bit of a fraud for a good few months as I ‘pretended’ to still be good at my job whilst I frantically tried to catch up with what I had missed. I know it would have helped to talk to peers about this completely reasonable way of feeling."