The raw truth about my “Change”
Almost 20 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I took part in an international karate competition. With a decade of experience, I was fully aware of the risks so did not enter the fighting category but only the Kata, which is a set of moves that are scored. I felt the adrenaline and ‘butterflies’ inside my stomach but could only think of the positive effects that this was having on my unborn child. I was confident and assured in my body’s ability.
I sailed through my pregnancy and even after the birth, which was somewhat difficult, I kept it together. There were complications that meant that the medical team grew chromosomes to check for downs syndrome in my daughter. This was undoubtedly a testing time, but I coped with a steady unfazed head. Thankfully, all was fine, and we returned home to a house that was part derelict; we were renovating and only living in one room, washing up in a bucket on the living room floor. Again, I could cope with these circumstances, managing to keep a calm focus and just getting on with things.
I resumed my martial arts training in the assurance it was grounding me as a person - with the meditation for my frame of mind and the training for my physical stamina.
Two years after my daughters’ birth, my son was born – one of each, job done! Fitting their little demanding lives into ours was, as any parent knows, challenging at times but doable. To help me communicate well with my children (and avoid tantrums) I decided to take on a national course in baby signing. It was hard at first, particularly when I had not much response, but at 6 months old my daughter started signing to me, which was both remarkable and rewarding.
I went back to work as a mobile hairdresser, sometimes taking the children with me or at other times ‘getting away’ when my husband’s shifts allowed for him to do some daddy daycare!
When the children started school, I took up the position of hair stylist in the health spa of a new residential care home in my village. This fitted in well with my work/home life and I relished in the ‘perks of the job’ having my nails or a massage done in the tranquility of the spa. The average age of the residents was 90 years old; they were frail and in need of their spirits lifting with a new haircut and a chat. At times it was both mentally and physically hard work, but I loved being there; it was rewarding for me to help them feel better after everything they been through in their long lives.
I was as busy as ever; running the salon during the day when the kids were at school, then collecting and taking them to after school clubs etc. Later in the evening when my husband was home, I could then fulfill my mobile hairdressing bookings.
On top of this I was martial arts training twice a week in the evenings and ran an after-school karate class for the children in the village. Both of mine attended and that was their introduction into personal development and mindfulness through meditation and discipline.
I chaired on several committees in the village from the school PTA to various neighbourhood projects. I prided myself on the many events that I had initiated, planned, and executed - with great success as the money was rolling in for the charities we supported.
It was in my nature to be the ‘life and soul’ of any party and I felt confident in my body from all my training. As a family we had lovely holidays and adventures in Centre Parcs and when I wasn’t working or on some village project, I found time to spend on the house, in the garden or on a long walk with the dogs. The children were getting older, but I also continued to be involved in all their projects, plans, travels - and growing pains!
Then one day everything changed. I woke up at the age of 47 and it felt like my brain had been extracted by aliens! Or hit by a truck! Or something like that!
Well, that is what it felt like …
I do not remember a gradual build up or a slow deterioration and I had never heard of the peri menopause or even thought I was ready for such a thing at my young age? But wow was I shocked - It felt like the rug had been pulled right from under me.
I was no longer the efficient organiser but the indecisive slacker. Things were not running smoothly because I was forgetting to turn up, book up, show up, and support. I failed to remind others or do our things as a family! What on earth was happening to me?
I was not interested in cleaning the house, cooking dinner was a chore, the glass of wine became 3. I put on weight, I stopped training in martial arts of which I had done for 27 years, I gave up my kids’ karate class. I just could not be bothered!
I lost all interest in the kids’ activities and did not have a need to even speak to them. I felt guilty and awful, and to honest I could have easily moved out and lived on my own!
What was happening to me?
My husband remained as patient as ever. When I complained about everything - my weight, my job, the kids, the house, the money, our friends… on and on I went. But the worst thing was I had none of these things to really complain about, I just needed to rant.
The number of times he found me sat in the corner of the kitchen with my head on my knees, with tears running down my face, and for what reason? Often nothing at all, it just happened.
Sitting in the back yard with washing unpegged from the line, with me underneath the bundle of clothes sobbing, he would come and pick me up saying, “maybe you are doing too much?”. But I was doing nothing like as much as I used to be able to do!
That was when I decided to approach a friend about this horrible thing I was going through. To my surprise her reaction was to turn away - I did not hear from her for six months. I now know that this was not because of the things I was telling her; it was because she was going through the exact same thing herself. We just could not or did not want to talk about it, we felt that we had to struggle on with it alone.
By this time, my children were no longer children but young adults, commonly known as ‘Teens’. I was starting to realise that our age groups did not mix very well!
As any parent knows, or non-parents for that matter, when ‘Teens’ have a surge in hormones you need to have the right level of mentality, physical fitness, and patience to withstand the whirlwind! I really was not sure who needed this the most, them to put up with me or vice versa.
I did know that sadly I felt that I had lost all those qualities I was once so proud of.
Was I doomed??
Yes… If I remained in this mode of ‘victim’ to a condition, ‘The Menopause,’ ‘The Change’.
No …. If I managed to use all that I had learned from my past to build myself up to an even better, stronger, and more focused person than before.
So, my new journey was born - The Change’ was about to become ‘The Change for the better’. Here I am telling you, thanking you, loving you for wanting to join me in changing the way ‘The Change’ is perceived.
We need to talk about it, share our experiences with each other, not hide away - we can be great in this time of our lives.
We need to be brilliant at being who we are. Start to be selfish with what we need. Stand strong together, be proud about what we have achieved already.
We need to work on ourselves to practice the reactions and prepare solutions for our clash of Menopause and Teens.
It is so important to do this so that menopause does not take us out for good. I overcome these changes through a combination of techniques, practices and products to regain control of my life, get my body back and have great feelings again.
I now work closely with women to show them how to do exactly the same as I did. My vision is to NOT have any other women go through what I went through without support... so if you are a woman who feels this way or if you have a wife, partner, friend, or colleague, that may be struggling with hot flushes, mood swings, brain fog or any more of the symptoms of Menopause... I would love to help!
My name is Jo Weatherall and that is the raw truth about my ‘Change’ …
Menopause, Mayhem & Teens.