It was 2014. We were in the month of August and I had just turned 48. The year had been going great so far and I spent each day doing my usual daily activities. Suddenly, my life changed. It took a 180 degree turn for the worse. I had hit menopause. This phase lasted for the next 4 years of my life – the most dreadful 4 years that will forever remain etched in my memory.
- Stress & Anxiety – I have always been a very stressed person. Any big event in my life would stress me to a great degree. However, when I hit menopause, almost every little thing caused me anxiety too. I would overthink every statement anyone would make around me and attribute it to myself regardless of the reality. I worried a lot about the way I looked. In particular, the amount of hair I had and would constantly imagine myself bald. I dreaded every hair wash where I would lose a ton of hair due to my stress which would end up only increasing my stress. It had all turned into a vicious cycle. I let my anxiety take over my life and that was my biggest mistake. I let myself feel helpless.
- Hot flushes and loss of sleep – My anxiety kept me up all night. Every time I tried closing my eyes, my head would be clouded with a number of negative thoughts. This caused me to be sleep deprived and thus resulted in me being more irritable with everyone around me. Almost every night, between 3 to 6 am I would wake up in a sweat. I would feel extremely hot and breathless. The only way I could make it through these hot flushes was by meditating and keeping the cooler at 16 degrees.
- Loss of appetite – My constant distress made me feel nauseous throughout the day. I lost my appetite and only managed to eat a few bites of my food. I started living an extremely unhealthy lifestyle. My acidity took a toll on me and it wasn’t long before I lost a tremendous amount of weight which made me start feeling insecure about my body.
- Never wanting to leave home – I reached a stage where I was so underconfident about myself that I thought I wasn’t good enough to be seen in public. I assumed that my family would be ashamed of being seen with me. I avoided every plan that my friends made to meet. I even reached a point where I was embarrassed to show up to family events. I just wanted to hide behind closed doors.
- Bleeding – Right before I reached menopause I bled excessively, like a tap. I had to wear a tampon and a pad each time and still within a few hours, I would end up staining my outfit. However, when I began menopause, my period came unannounced every few months. This went on for a year or so after which it stopped completely.
- Suicidal tendencies – A shiver runs down my spine as I say this. I thought about ending my life numerous times. I felt like there was no other solution or end to the way I felt.
However, I was so wrong to think that. I was so wrong to think I wasn’t strong enough to get through this phase. Because I did. It took me a few years but I managed and I promise all of you women who are reading this and going through the same thing – this too shall pass.
Here’s what helped me:
- Yoga – Meditating and concentrating on my breathing changed my life. I joined a yoga class which I went to twice a week. Not only did it help relax my mind but also helped me make new friends who were going through similar issues. My yoga class felt like joining a support group which also brought physical benefits to me.
- Exercising – I also began an exercise class which I went to twice a week. It helped me stay distracted and would also tire me out thus allowing me to get better sleep.
- Family and friends – This was the phase of my life during which I realised that familial support is underrated. My family stood by me through it all. Whether it was constantly reassuring me that I was good enough, to tolerating my mood swings, they didn’t leave my side. Don’t get me wrong, of course there were fights. My daughter (who is writing this on my behalf!) and I were at each other’s throats almost every few days. But still, my family loved me the same way which helped me love myself. My friends made me realise I wasn’t alone in this. They always had suggestions, tips and tricks to get through each day.
Those 4 years of my life were awful but since then, I feel like a new person. I’m a lot more positive and I believe in myself more than I ever did. I know every woman doesn’t necessarily have this bad an experience but to those who do – hang in there. Don’t give up. Don’t keep all your feelings inside. Let them out. Remind yourself that you are far from alone. You’ll get through it – just like I did.
By Bharati Shah