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Deborah Garlick

Deborah, 57, is the founder of Henpicked, one of the biggest online communities for women who ‘weren’t born yesterday' and director of Menopause in the Workplace, an organisation that helps employers support their colleagues and become menopause-friendly. She lives in Nottingham with her husband, Rob.

1. The best thing about the menopause is….

The first thing that springs to mind is no more periods, probably because my daughter Rebecca was home recently, and was unexpectedly caught out. The tampon hunt was a game I’d forgotten about, drawers and bags rummaged in the hope of finding one until you get to the shops. I was actually thankful that I don’t have that anymore. How often my period came at the wrong time – once when I was wearing white jeans…

More than that, my now post-menopause status really is a new chapter and one I’m enjoying. I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I ever was before, even if it’s not as firm and toned (wrinkles, so what). More relaxed with me and who I am.

2. The hardest thing about the menopause is….

Brain fog. I’ve always had such strong recall, facts, stats, you name it. Madame Memory at your service – but sadly no more.

The first time it happened big time was when I was giving a talk to hundreds of people in an auditorium – impactful image slides for drama, no bullet points to prompt me. I rehearsed my content and knew it very well but in that moment my mind went completely blank.

I found my way through by asking the audience ‘anyone else get brain fog?’ making a bit of a joke of my situation – here to talk about menopause symptoms and can’t remember a thing. Thankfully my ‘brain’s wi-fi’ and memory returned just in time.

A woman thanked me afterward, praising my acting skills (!), she said she knew exactly how it felt. Maybe I helped her that day. Personally, I felt embarrassed, ashamed and I cried on the way home.

I wouldn’t want to repeat that ever but what I do know is that I get brain fog most when I’m tired or emotionally stretched.

I know that when I accept it can happen and don’t panic, things come back to me easier. What’s more, I don’t feel too embarrassed to say I’ve just lost my train of thought or ask someone to bear with me.

Understanding what’s going on, what I can do when it does and not being embarrassed is actually empowering. And I also keep lists and lists – I might even be more efficient than I was before!

3. My lightbulb moment was….

Realising I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know much about the menopause!

We had so many cries for help through – from women who were struggling with their symptoms, didn’t understand what was going on and who wanted help but didn’t know where to get it.

So we wrote a book to build on the work we were already doing on the website. But I realised that if anything was going to really improve, we needed systemic change so I had the idea to involve employers in the drive to change hearts and minds.

In 2016 I planned the first Menopause in the Workplace Conference. Many of those who attended were the first to take action, publishing policies and putting training and support in place. The lightbulb moment had passed to them.

Granted, all employers haven’t joined in yet, but wow, those who have! It’s a win-win for employees and employers BUT the biggest pay-off is how much is changing in the culture of the UK. I believe that the changes we’re making help us today and for generations to come. Imagine that.

4. My self-care superhero is….

Strange thing maybe for a little introvert, but, now more than ever, people are my self-care superheroes. I love spending time with my family and friends. I’m looking forward to Rebecca’s wedding in July next year and looking forward to us all getting together at Christmas and having a break.

And the team at Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace. They inspire me, make me laugh every day. I know we all look out for each other, and I know we’re all passionate about the same thing – changing the way everyone thinks and feels about the menopause.

5. I couldn’t live without…

Scent. I’m sure I’ve got a heightened sense of smell – perfumes, flowers, shampoos, body-wash – I actually look like people on commercials who sniff stuff and go mmmmmm! A spritz of Chanel Chance before a webinar (yep even online) gives me a confidence boost. And don’t get me started on fabric softeners.

And my Apple Watch – not for the gadgets, just for keeping an eye on the fitness rings: movement; exercise, and standing. It tells me it’s time to move and I obey!

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