Lisa’s story of perseverance & getting the right help
January has been ‘Menopause Activity Month’ here at Accord; a chance to keep the conversation alive, remove the stigma from the word menopause and to improve awareness and support amongst our members. We spoke to Lisa Earp, a 39-year-old senior bank manager, who is currently going through perimenopause (the transition period before menopause). Lisa shared her story about how perimenopause has affected her health, and how she had to fight to get the right support.
Hi Lisa! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve worked for Lloyds Banking group for 22 years, I’m married with 2 children (aged 9 and 11) and have a dog called Benji. I try and keep a fit and healthy lifestyle with some yoga and running with the odd triathlon every now and then!
Wow - sounds like you’re a busy woman! What menopause symptoms have you experienced so far and how have they impacted you?
I’ve experienced quite a few; headaches, mind fog, exhaustion, mood swings, low resilience, feeling emotional, joint pain in my hands, hot flushes and irregular periods. I was experiencing all these symptoms for 2/3 months before considering something was wrong. I put it down to Covid fatigue, workload, extreme resourcing pressures – that was until the headaches became so extreme I couldn’t do it anymore. That’s when I broke.
Sounds exhausting. Were you aware of the symptoms before going through them yourself?
I was aware of being exhausted all the time but it wasn’t until I couldn’t run more than 2 miles without walking home (I usually run 6 miles). I couldn’t cope with all the elements of my life without breaking down when I have always been extremely resilient. I listed everything I’d been experiencing and after Googling the symptoms and speaking to my GP, everything pointed towards menopause.
What was the next step towards diagnosis?
At first, I had some blood tests done. But because the results didn’t show any hormone imbalance, the doctor dismissed menopause as a causing factor and there was no further investigations into my symptoms. I wasn’t happy, so I spoke to a second doctor. I was again told I was not perimenopausal but stressed. This doctor advised me to take time off work with the offer of up to 3 months sick note!
During my time off work, I decided to call BUPA. I spoke to the menopause helpline who were extremely helpful. I was relieved to know someone was actually listening and agreed that my symptoms pointed towards perimenopause. The helpline advised me on the support that was available and what I needed to do to convince my doctor. BUPA were fantastic. I did lots of research and started taking some perimenopause ‘mind’ herbal tablets - within 3 weeks I felt so much better. I spoke to the doctor again who finally agreed I was perimenopausal and I’m now on 3-month HRT trial – it’s changed my life!
"My advice to others going through menopause would be to talk, don’t be embarrassed, contact BUPA, use the support tools available to you and don’t give up."
That’s brilliant news. Well done for persevering! What support have you had through all of this?
My husband James has been incredibly supportive and patient. My friends too. The more friends I spoke to, the more opened up about their own symptoms and experiences and passed on their advice.
I have taken the time to read all the information and resources available through LBG and shared it with my line manager. It’s important our leaders understand how women going through menopause can be supported. I still describe the last 6 months as my mental breakdown!
Glad you felt supported at home and at work. Do you feel menopause is openly talked about in your workplace?
It wasn’t - it is now. Since my experience, I have opened up multiple discussions. I openly talk to my line manager and colleagues about my symptoms and how I have been feeling. Colleagues that have been through it, or know someone close who has, have been incredibly supportive.
That’s great to know. As a final thought, what advice would you give others going through any stage of the menopause?
Don’t accept the first doctor’s response if you’re not happy with it. I spoke to 6 different GPs over a 6-month period before anyone listened and helped. I knew I wasn’t stressed and I knew I wasn’t depressed. I know my body and needed someone to listen, I didn’t stop until someone helped.
Talk, don’t be embarrassed, contact BUPA, use the support tools available and don’t give up.
Thanks so much for sharing your story Lisa.
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The Accord Equality Diversity & Inclusion group’s aim is to maximise our members' potential, regardless of background, and ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect. It’s a place where diversity is celebrated, without prejudice or judgement. It’s a chance to collectively learn from our experiences, and enrich all our lives.