We are aware this is quite a long read but we wanted to share Shelley's story of early menopause:
"It was world menopause day last week and I saw lots of posts about how women should embrace this powerful time in their lives.
I agree, however its also a time of immense change and, for some, great difficulty.
I've been battling early menopause for at least 5 years and it has been exceptionally challenging for me. So while I'm all for entering this new phase with positivity I think it's important women are aware that yes "take back your power" but don't feel like you can't grieve your youth, don't feel like you can't get support during this transition and don't think you're failing if you don't feel like celebrating just quite yet!
Here's my story:
For any woman living with any type of autoimmune or neurological condition the minute hormones start declining expect a worsening in your health. Even if it's something that has given you no trouble for decades its highly likely it will now.
My Multiple Sclerosis has been dreadful. I had my first relapse in almost 10 years, severe optic neuritis which badly affected my vision, horrific fatigue and vestibular issues.
But it doesn't end there. Non MS related stuff that most women will suffer from to some degree.......Oh the anxiety! Crippling anxiety I used to think I was having a heart attack through the night. Brutal migraines that last days. Inability to make decisions. Brain fog. Joint pain. Loss of confidence. COMPLETE loss of self.
I know most people are aware of hot flushes, that's something I didn't get but instead had cold flushes. It's a thing!
Physical changes to my body shape. Constant low energy. No real joy in anything even hobbies I used to love. It's a confusing time.
Initially I wanted to try and do the holistic thing and despite trying, it simply didn't work. Took the edge of a little but that's all. Now everyone knows how much I believe in natural medicine but it wasn't enough. It disappointed me but then I realised nature can't fix something it intended. Menopause is a natural part of a woman’s physiology.
I couldn't, and honestly, did not want to feel this way anymore. I lost years of my life to my recovery and I felt like I was losing them all over again.
After a LOT of research I decided to start HRT. Game changer!
Sadly my GP wouldn't help me. They wanted to prescribe antidepressants or the birth control pill so I had to seek a specialist privately. I shouldn't have been surprised. Yet again I don't fit in the typical check box. Do you know my GP even had the audacity to make me "Promise not to sue as I was taking a very unorthodox approach." She said that to me when I asked her to prescribe the HRT I required on the NHS so I didn't have to keep using private prescriptions. The only unorthodox aspect was her complete lack of support and her own outdated views. My GP hasn't seen me in her surgery for years. She has absolutely NO idea how challenging my life is so when I make an appointment I am DESPERATE.
After speaking to the specialist it was an utter relief to know I was not losing my mind and there was something I could do. With her support and guidance I started my HRT journey and within 12 months I've altered doses and requirements as my own hormones continue to decline. Again, one size does not fit all but let me tell you I feel more like myself again. It's wonderful.
I guess my message is this, absolutely celebrate this new phase in your life but, its OK if you struggled. It's OK if you didn't ride the storm holistically. Your power lies in making informed choices that work best for you and your health.
On this occasion I chose bio-identical HRT and it was 100% the right decision for me. It is stabilising my MS and restoring my self identity.
It gets better. Hang tight!"