Menopause Peer Support Group at Riverside

One year since the launch of our Menopause Peer Support Group

I can’t believe it has been a year since we held the first Menopause Peer Support group meeting. I started the group because I had suffered for a number of years with menopause symptoms, brain fog, poor memory, forgetting words and anxiety and recognised there were many colleagues working at Riverside suffering in silence with menopause symptoms.

We had over 20 people express an interest in the group initially. It has grown to 39 people and continues to grow. We hold meetings every month and people join as and when they need to. We discuss anything relating to menopause, it is a safe space to listen, share experiences and ask questions about symptoms and how it affects daily life.

We share experiences of treatments and supplements available, including HRT, but also talk about lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet. Like many people who have attended the group, I have been to my doctor and am now taking HRT as a result of being able to discuss the impact of HRT with other colleagues in the peer support group.

The menopause peer support group gives an opportunity to focus on yourself and talk to colleagues who understand what you are going through.

We recognise the importance of education and support, not just for those experiencing menopause, but also for the others including colleagues, family or friends going through it. It can touch a lot of people’s lives. We intend to expand on the group and provide training, drop ins and round table events in the future.

 Liz Turner

I could not understand what was happening to me. It was beginning to impact on every part of my life.

My menopause story started about 3 years ago on reflection.  My periods had got so bad I could not face the drive into work.  I actually went to the nurse and she put me on the pill to stop them.  This was only the start.  My mum has never talked about menopause with me and looking back I think she had it rather bad.

Two years ago, my confidence levels started to dip and my anxiety has been through the roof.  I would just be walking along the street and I would have to hold on to my husband as I had a feeling, the only way to describe it was falling.  I thought at the time it was my sugar levels as I had started a diet.  I put Mars Bars in my bag and each time I felt this way I would have one and looking back this was a just a coping mechanism so I could sit down.

At one stage I could present at a conference and would feel comfortable (still nerves but good ones) the first one after covid I was a mess, I actually thought I was going to pass out my heart was pounding so much. I started to notice that when I was in schemes my legs would start shaking and I would have to sit down.  Also, in my head there was a lot (and I mean a lot) of self-talk.  Now no one tells you about the self-talk, the feeling of doom and negativity in your head.  I could not understand what was happening to me.  I got to a stage where I did not want to go out or be around crowds, I would just freeze.   This was beginning to impact on every part of my life.

I was tired all the time, waking up in the middle of the night drenched.  I never knew your feet had sweat glands.  I would wake up tired.  Now anyone who knows me I can sleep a straight 8 hours, never had any problems sleeping.  With the anxiety it was getting worse, not sleeping and worrying about not sleeping, then the self-talk would kick in.  As I said a feeling of doom.

I saw the menopause group and thought “is it possible that I could be having symptoms?”.  So, I decided to join.  The first couple of groups I just listened, there was so much about how it makes you feel both physically and mentally that I did not know.  Discussions about what medication.  Actually, I thought there were only patches.  But no there is so much more, sprays, gels and tablets.  After about 4 month of learning and thinking about my situation I went to my doctor.  What a difference!  My anxiety was under control, the self-talk was reduced.  I feel like myself again.

Without this support group I don’t know what would have happened.

Eleanor Watts