Dear Cara

As I write this, I can’t believe how the time has flown by. Life never goes as planned and things will happen that you have no control of, but that’s ok. You’ll still be learning that once you hit your 50s. I will come onto that in a moment…

I’m looking at your picture for the first time in a very long time and I’m smiling at the beautiful person staring back at me. People are going to bully you and say you aren’t “pretty” and that narrative will stay with you until now. While part of me wishes I could change that, everything that happens in your life has brought you to where I am today. Those challenges will give you the strength and determination to make a difference in the world and that is something to be proud of. You will have a beautiful family, two amazing sons and a brilliant career. It is one hell of a journey!

Just when you think you have things figured out, I’m afraid to say that life throws the menopause at you. You’ll need to use all the strength and determination built up over the years to challenge the system and the gender bias that you have fought so hard against all your life. Just as you railed against being told that becoming a good housewife and marrying well was your route to success, you’ll need to break down barriers and make it acceptable to talk about the menopause. 

I could talk to you about the myriad of symptoms you will experience. The fight with the GP to get a diagnosis, or the battle to find the right balance of HRT, but it’s the voice and understanding of yourself that you find through this that will make the difference - not only to you, but to others around you. You’ll use that voice to write a blog at work which will trigger a chain of events that results in the menopause guide and supporting frameworks being put in place. The response from colleagues is overwhelming, and you realise that you are not alone. You’ll help foster a greater understanding, not only amongst your female colleagues, but with male colleagues too.

Your regret will be that you didn’t do this sooner, but the important thing is that you did and that you continue to champion awareness and talk openly and freely about the menopause. You’ll surprise yourself and will use this to drive your own wellbeing, becoming fitter in your 50s than you ever were - completing ultra-marathons and becoming at ease in your own body. You will no longer give a damn what others think and will wear the shorts that you said you’d never wear outside the house.  Your motto will become “if you care how I look, then you don’t matter, and if you matter then you won’t care”. That will release you from so much pressure that you put on yourself, which is why, looking back at you now, I can see how beautiful you are.

This journey isn’t finished yet. There will still be days where you think that the menopause might beat you - but you are still here fighting this now, so hang in there.


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