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When Fay Reid became perimenopausal she couldn’t find anyone she related to and so she created 9to5 Menopause community on Instagram. Her aim is to highlight and inform women of all ages and ethnicities that the menopause is nothing to fear and to share her tips for navigating this transition. In addition to her fun, inspirational and honest social content, she consults across various industries, helping companies become more menopause-aware. Fay is 55 and lives in London.
…the way it has liberated me. I have discovered a love of exercise I never would have thought possible which in turn has given me confidence. I have learnt so much about what my body is going through, what it is capable of and what I mentally want and need. I want to enjoy life and I can – age is not a barrier to achieving things.
I have also stepped out of my comfort zone by sharing my story. It has been so rewarding to hear from other women and hear them say it has helped them. When I started my Instagram @9to5menopause I used to worry so much about what people thought about me, but now I do not care. My internal dialogue used to be so critical and now I try to remember to be kind to myself and tell myself “I’m okay”!
For me it has been dealing with life. I started my perimenopause when I was 46 and I was kind of okay – a bit hot, but I was fine. Then, within one year, my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She passed away not long after, my job became super busy and my symptoms exploded. I went from the odd flush, to full-on day and night sweats, insomnia, brain fog (as a Personal Assistant to a CEO not ideal!) and the worst symptom was severe anxiety.
I found it extremely hard to keep going – I wanted to stay in bed and just give up – but I had a job and it was on me to keep the roof over my head. There were times that I actually questioned my sanity, I knew I wasn’t feeling “normal”.
At the time I couldn’t find anybody in my position talking about the menopause and I kept thinking there must be other women trying to hold down a job and navigate this time in their life. I was also perplexed as to why I could find no black women talking about the menopause and I thought “why is it such a taboo subject”.
I started to see a therapist, as I was unravelling and finding it very hard to cope. She could see I needed help and advised me to go to my GP who prescribed me HRT – it saved my life.
HRT – not only was there something out there to help me, but there were also different options. I had no idea what to expect and the first tablet she prescribed didn’t really make a difference. She increased the dose and eventually gave me a different type which surprised me as I thought there was just one form of HRT and that one ended up being okay.
It was only after that brand was discontinued and I was prescribed patches that I could feel a real difference and was able to function. Sadly those patches got discontinued too, but by that stage I knew more about HRT and asked to have the Mirena coil and oestrogel alongside it.
It was a eureka moment – I felt SO much better to the point family and friends commented that it was the best they’d seen me in years!
I had a zest for life, which I had not had for a very long time and it felt really good.
Exercise! When I started the perimenopause I was commuting to a job that was 1.5 hours each way. I had zero energy before or after work to go to the gym and having a desk job meant I started to put on weight. The fact that I worked for a snack company didn’t help…
After being there for 5 years I knew I needed a break. The commute was killing me, coupled with the fact I hadn’t really grieved for my mum. I had some money put by, so I left my job and took 6 months off and knew one of the things I would do was start to exercise.
I had read that weight training was good for menopausal women to help build and maintain bone density so I signed up to a studio. I was petrified and had every excuse as to why I could not do a certain movement (weak knees, it’s too heavy, I can’t do it etc etc.).
The staff were great though and, over time, I felt the benefit – the endorphins kicked in, I had more energy, I was more positive, I slept better, and I was able to achieve more in life generally. It gave me a confidence I had never had before, and I got stronger which gave me such a buzz and I’ve never looked back. In my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s I easily skipped classes, but now when I am not in the mood I push myself as I know I will feel better after. I also do Pilates reformer classes – I like the feeling of being stretched and loosening up any tightness I have.
Doing exercise has also made me aware of my body and I make sure I am in bed by 10 pm at the latest (my favourite time to work out is first thing before work), I have changed my diet and I have really cut down on alcohol.
…a pillow spray! When my menopause was at its worst, sleep deprivation was just so painful. I have always loved my sleep, but waking up during the night and struggling to get back to sleep was not the best and I would often liken it to being a prisoner of war – where they would deprive you of sleep to torture you.
I got into the habit of using a sleep mist and now always spray my pillow before bed and l love the smell as I drift off to sleep. I always travel with one too. My favourites are Mauli and Feather & Down.
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