At age 39, Shirley started to experience her first signs of perimenopause. Her periods were heavier than before she had children. She started experiencing sleep deprivation and out-of-character rage, something she definitely was not prepared for. She would feel fine one moment then, without warning, snap at the people she loved most. Then came the brain fog. She was having trouble remembering things. She lacked focus. It was incredibly challenging as a self-employed mother of two..
Shirley didn’t tend to go to the doctor too frequently, but after noticing these changes for a couple years, she mentioned perimenopause to her doctor at the end of a routine Pap test. Her doctor quipped, “Oh you’re 41. You’re too young for menopause.”
The doctor went on to suggest considering birth control, sleeping pills, and antidepressants. But Shirley mostly remembers the debilitating feeling that what she was experiencing was all in her head.
Shirley felt confused, even embarrassed. But she also felt a sense of wonder. She wondered if she was the only woman in the world feeling this way. She became obsessed with the lack of quality information for women to prepare themselves for the perimenopause-to-menopause. She was driven to fill the gap for women trying to navigate this journey. She wanted to crack open the conversation. She knew women deserved quality information, more confidence to advocate for their health, and less alone.
Fast forward 10 years. Shirley is 51 and post-menopause. Her anxiety, depression and brain fog resurfaced. Her new doctor gave her a 7-question quiz and, in less than 5 minutes, diagnosed her with Bipolar disorder. Shirley couldn’t believe it. No conversation about hormone balance or sleep or diet or lifestyle. Just 7 questions.
Disclaimer: BC Women’s Health Foundation is BC’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the full spectrum of women’s health. The information shared on our website or social media is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition.
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