Hi, my name is Sue. I am the Production Director at bbd (I think!), I’m 47 and I am going through the Menopause.
Having worked at bbd for 30 years, I’ve always been the ‘Oh, Sue will know person’, person. The ‘Hey Sue, do you remember the job number from 2004 where we had to license that image, and how much we paid for the print?’. Bang! I would know the answer and even where the file copy was stored. Well, these days I look…and stare…and say ‘Who is Sue and what was the question?’
Menopause at work isn’t really talked about and it is quite a taboo subject. However, I like to start every conversation with new and old colleagues alike with…‘I’m not sure if you know but I am going through the menopause’…
So many hidden symptoms
It’s not something to be ashamed of and I really think it should be talked about more often. The industry we work in is so fast paced, things change all the time and everyone is young and fun and bouncy. And then you have tired, sweaty, itchy Sue trying to keep up in the background.
The menopause has so many hidden symptoms, some which I’m sure some people are like ‘Really, I never knew that!’ But then, why would you know? You probably only remember your moms and your family members going through ‘the change’ and that’s all that was ever said.
At first, little things start to happen – like you open the fridge door but you have absolutely no idea why you’ve done that, also why is my whole body itching? And why can’t I sleep? Next thing you know, it’s questions like why is my lovely thick hair falling out? Then you look up the symptoms and realise you aren’t going mad, you’re going through the menopause, which is such a huge part of your life’s journey.
Starting a new love story is hard work
I think the hardest part for me was looking in the mirror and not seeing myself looking back. Like you are literally staring at this person who feels so alien to you and thinking, ‘Is that really me, that can’t be me, have I always looked like this, (where the hell did that 2 stone come from)?’ Which then unravels into your personal life, which has a knock on into your work life, and when you don’t know or like the person staring back at you, it can be so hard. We all know the saying, ‘You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else.’ So, you have to start that new love story with yourself, the new menopause version. I’m slowly getting there and can say I like myself at the moment – possibly not love yet, but I know I’ll get there. I have an awesome family and friends who will do anything for me.
Normalising menopause and sharing information
I found this picture a while back. So, when people ask what menopause is like, I just send them this…
Understanding and support from my bbd family
I have to say, bbd have been smashing with me. They’ve moved my desk under an air conditioning unit. Knowing that I could break down in tears at any given second, someone is always on hand for a hug and a cup of coffee or glass of wine. I have been able to come in a little later because I haven’t slept all night. Given more time to send things over, as the brain fog somedays is just immense. (On days like that, how on earth can I remember which bloody Slack channel that request came in from!) Protecting my lunchtime swims from any meetings, so I can clear my head. They have worked hard at just letting me be, and being ok with me working from home when things are just getting too much. Even on the bbd Away Day this year, off I plodded for a little afternoon kip!
I am so lucky to have the bbd family literally going through the menopause with me and I wouldn’t want to do it at any other organisation. I really hope I can shape things for the future women of bbd so they can talk openly about it – and maybe start every conversation the same way I do.
But don’t worry gang, this only goes on for 10 years or so! And we’re only 3 in!
So, for now I shall keep slapping that HRT on my arms, walking round in a t-shirt in the middle of winter and sobbing when anyone offers me a kind word.