The Battle of the menopause

 A personal account from Rachel, an inspirational woman who has been on a journey of (re)finding and (re)defining herself through her love of horses despite the best efforts of her hormones……

 

So… its 10.am on a wet Monday morning and I am sitting here enjoying a coffee in my little revamped £100 caravan at the yard. Forgive me.. I’ll explain why in a minute but I am feeling quietly smug. It’s a work in progress but the transition to post menopause or middle aged or whatever we want to call it can be quite a revelation!

 

The rain is pouring down.. It is the 27th November and the yard closely resembles a mud bath … BUT guess what? IVE RIDDEN! (Drum roll please) This time last year I would have entered the winter season with dread. I would have avoided riding (but felt guilty) I would have felt anxious… apprehensive about EVERYTHING… doubting myself and unhealthily reliant (regarding the horses) on my (now) 22 year old daughter.

 

We have always done the horses together. She started riding aged 3 and from age 6 she had a pony. Over the years we have had the best times ( still do.. that is not meant to be in past tense) Riding lessons…hilarious hacks and pleasure rides….being the Pony Club Mum ( I failed miserably at this however. My husband would call me a rule breaker.. I prefer ‘free spirited’ but something not welcomed at PC rallies). We have been blessed with a beautiful relationship that continues to grow and change. She is now 22. She is confident, self-assured and chasing her own dreams. She still needs me, all children do (even adult ones) but in a very different way.

 

BOOM 💥 Menopause hits…oestrogen drops and I become quite a quivering wreck!  Some days were ok.. some were seriously NOT! Genuinely I felt I had early onset dementia. Brain fog is a seriously understated name for it! You genuinely forget words, names, what you are doing… what you’ve done. You begin to doubt whether you are any good at anything… your job… being a mum.. a wife… a friend… even owning and looking after the horses. Anxiety is so high that even thinking about mounting is scary, let alone riding this 15.2 prey animal who has decided she too is scared of the world!

 

So … hide away and cry? Yes… did that! Cry at the doctors? Yes did that too… try HRT patches in the hope they would stop the night sweats and insomnia? Yep… throw in self help and herbal remedies… rescue remedy and CBD oil too! Actually I continue to do all this… eventually you WILL I promise find the combination that works for you. For me it’s HRT combined pill daily, plus Magnesium ( edit .. it’s just taken me over 5 minutes to remember the name of that!) and vitamin D. Eat well… enjoy treats and exercise… Also along came Steph in February of this year.. She helped me and continues to help me change my mindset. Our sessions, both ridden and non-ridden have helped me self-reflect and realise that at this age (nearly 50) and at this stage (Menopausal) we most definitely need to start being kind to ourselves. Things do take a little longer.. It takes me longer to get going… to plan things… and to do things.

 

I’m much better if I have slept well (keep going with the HRT… this does improve) I’m better if I stick to my own timetable. Over the years rushing has become a habit. Combining career climbing, studying for a degree and being a Mum (as well as the million and one animals we’ve accumulated) has led to constantly being in a rush and anxious about being late (daily losing my keys and phone as a result and therefore always BEING late!) …. WHOA!!!!! Half halts please!

 

My kids are now actually 24 and 22. My son at 24 has his own place with his girlfriend… my daughter is due to move out this Friday actually.. renting with her boyfriend.. I am so very very proud of them both! Being a Mum is the most important thing in my life. It is the one thing I was hugely driven to ‘get right’

 

When you are young, you dream about finding the right partner, getting married and having a baby ( or 2). No one EVER talks about the stage where you become an ‘empty nester’ and have to remember who YOU still are! It is scary! It is lonely! … BUT… with care… chocolate.. and the occasional baileys… it is also very liberating!

 

There IS now time! There is also hopefully a little more money and there is space in your life to be YOU and remember what YOU like!

 

So, here I sit in my grown up ‘wendy house’ … drinking good  coffee.. just because I like it.. and having ridden MY OWN horse in the rain … thinking about my day off today and the jam I want to make when I get home … I feel liberated!

Take it from me… keep going … remember the little girl you once were who loved to ride and who longed to have her  own pony more than anything… I promise one day you too will feel quite smug … be kind to yourself… remember this can be a liberating time !

 

Hugs to you.. you’ve got this! Thanks for reading… oh and lastly… Listen to Steph! She knows what she is talking about ;)

 

Poppy and me at Ickworth Park on a cross country clinic flying over fences after nearly giving up riding less than 6 months earlier
Poppy and me enjoying Ickworth Park, having so much fun