The menopause is synonymous with horrible hot flashes and night sweats, but for comedian Jenny Eclair her symptoms were less physical and much more emotional.
Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the 61-year-old said she struggled, in particular, with crippling anxiety.
“It wasn't so much about the physical sides of the menopause, which some people suffer from terribly badly,” she told podcast host Kate Thornton.
“My big problem was emotional, and it hit me at about the age of 52 when other things are hitting you anyway. For me, it was anxiety and weepiness, and just an inability to cope and feeling very self-conscious, and total lack of confidence.
"And that's not really like me.”
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The comedian has recently written about her experience of the menopause in a new book. Called Older and Wider: A Survivor’s Guide to the Menopause, it’s an honest compendium of the menopause from Eclair’s point of view.
She revealed to Thornton that her confidence was severely knocked, referring to herself as ‘dull’ and ‘boring’. Things came to a head when she was due to take part in the Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia.
“I was on the floor, at the prospect of getting up on stage in Australia and doing the show that I'd done in the UK, and knew and loved - a pretty good show,” she revealed.
It was this moment that persuaded her to take HRT, which she said kicked in about three days later and enabled her to cope again. It’s something she knows isn’t for everyone but has been a big bonus for her getting through this difficult stage of life.
“I wasn't sure whether I was going to take it because a lot of people are very anti-HRT,” she told Thornton.
.“If you listen to both sides of the argument, it is quite easy to be put off but I listened to more arguments from the pro-HRT side, and I'm very pro of it. For me personally, it's been a miracle”
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She said her partner of 35 years, Geoff Powell, is also a fan of the hormone replacement medicine prescribed for the menopause.
“I will be taking HRT to my grave, just because I tell you who gets panicky if my HRT supplies run low, and that's the old man,” laughed Eclair.
The comedian who presents a podcast Older And Wider about living through the menopause and the accompanying years says becoming peri-menopausal hits at time when everything else is going on, which just makes it a whole lot harder to deal with.
“This is what's interesting about the menopause — peri and beyond — is that it hits you at a time in life when it's the perfect storm, when everything is hitting the fan,” she exclaimed.
She continued: “Your parents are ageing, falling to pieces, dying in some cases, and your children are leaving home. We know work can be very difficult for women in their 50s. You can suddenly start being completely dropped off the list, all those lists that you used to be on for potential jobs… And so, it comes at a time when your defences are pretty low anyway.”
Eclair did say though that the menopause isn’t all bad news, and that the hardships you go through will eventually be over.
“The good bit is it doesn't kill you!” she laughed.
“I don't think there are any cases of the menopause actually killing you and we all know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so you know, you will come through it.”
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