real life: Menopause made me stalk my hus­band

Re­becca Jones, 41, thought she was los­ing her mar­riage Ð and her mind

Woman's Own - - Woman’s Own Welcome -

ON The Cover

Glanc­ing down at my hus­band sleep­ing be­side me, I picked up his mo­bile phone from the bed­side table and be­gan trawl­ing through his mes­sages.

it was July 2016, and de­spite never com­ing home late or leav­ing the room to take mys­te­ri­ous calls, i was con­vinced my part­ner of 18 years was cheating on me. i kept pic­tur­ing it in my head – him cud­dling up to an­other woman, kiss­ing her as he’d once kissed me. Fran­tic, i searched through more files on his phone. surely the proof would be here some­where.

i’d met Pa­trick when i was 18, and he was 19, in our home­town of manch­ester. he was my best friend’s brother, and the per­fect mix­ture of funny and kind. af­ter three months of dat­ing, i fell preg­nant with our first child. i had no idea how Pa­trick would re­act, but when i showed him the pos­i­tive preg­nancy test, his huge smile said it all. i was so re­lieved.

Rock solid

he was such a sup­port through the next nine months. and when i gave birth to hol­lie in au­gust 1995 we set­tled into be­ing young par­ents. Friends en­vied our re­la­tion­ship. While other men went out drink­ing af­ter work, Pa­trick came straight home from his lec­tures at univer­sity where he was study­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal health. de­spite hav­ing plenty of fe­male class­mates, i never once wor­ried about him. our re­la­tion­ship was un­shake­able.

We mar­ried two years later. Then, in Novem­ber 1997, Pa­trick said he wanted to do his nurse’s train­ing with the raf, which meant mov­ing our fam­ily from manch­ester to Portsmouth, 250 miles away. Within a year our son, Ben­jamin, was born, fol­lowed by Thomas in June 2003. i couldn’t have been hap­pier. But in 2009, that all changed. i was now 33 and at first i put my snap­pi­ness and cry­ing out­bursts down to bal­anc­ing car­ing for the chil­dren and work­ing as a nurs­ery teacher. But soon i started to re­alise my low moods al­ways hap­pened the week be­fore my pe­riod was due. Friends re­as­sured me that was nor­mal, but each month it got worse. i hated go­ing out and i’d lie on the sofa, star­ing blankly at the TV.

so i went to see the GP. ‘i feel like i’m liv­ing un­der a black cloud,’ i con­fessed. But no mat­ter how many tests i had there were no answers. By 2011, it was in­tol­er­a­ble. i’d spend one week out of ev­ery month feel­ing wretched. and poor Pa­trick al­ways bore the brunt of my moods. even the small­est things sent me into a white-hot rage. if he so much as of­fered me a cup of tea i’d bite his head off, only to break down in tears after­wards. ‘What can i do to help?’ he’d ask. But the truth is there was noth­ing. my moods were ir­ra­tional, and as soon as i felt nor­mal again i’d be shocked by how in­tense they’d been.

Things came to a head in 2015 when i started imag­in­ing driv­ing my car into a brick wall. Filled with a sense of worth­less­ness and self-loathing, i con­vinced my­self

i needed to di­vorce Pa­trick and leave the chil­dren. ‘They de­serve a bet­ter mother,’ i told my­self. ‘it would be bet­ter for them if i wasn’t around.’

luck­ily, i didn’t go through with it. in­stead i went back to my GP, who told me i was suf­fer­ing ex­treme symp­toms of PMT. he put me on an­tide­pres­sants – first for two weeks out of the month, to co­in­cide with my pe­riod, and then con­stantly. But noth­ing worked.

Dras­tic mea­sures

Fi­nally, a year later, i was re­ferred for a hys­terec­tomy. at 40 years old it was dras­tic but i was tired of fight­ing my see-saw hor­mones. ‘i want this more than any­thing,’ i said to my sur­geon in the con­sul­ta­tion. Pa­trick agreed.

so in may 2016 i had key­hole surgery to re­move my womb, which hurled my body into the menopause. sud­denly i was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing all the symp­toms of my PMT just like be­fore, only all the time and at 10 times the

strength. hot flushes were the least of it. Be­cause of my con­stant low moods i had no en­ergy, and couldn’t hold a con­ver­sa­tion. one day i was wash­ing the dishes and dropped a knife. That was enough to leave me sob­bing hys­ter­i­cally for hours.

No trust left

The chil­dren would tip­toe around me, ask­ing Pa­trick if i was ok. But i didn’t even have the en­ergy to smile and re­as­sure them. anx­ious and fraught, i’d lie awake at night with my mind go­ing round in cir­cles. That’s when i con­vinced my­self Pa­trick was cheating. and who could blame him, i’d tell my­self. i’d been a nightmare.

i started wait­ing for him to fall asleep and then check through his phone. i found noth­ing but it didn’t stop me. and ev­ery morn­ing as he left for work i’d watch him pull his car off the drive­way. i couldn’t help pic­tur­ing him go­ing off to be with an­other woman some­where. i was con­vinced he was hav­ing an af­fair with some­one.

al­though i never con­fronted Pa­trick with my sus­pi­cions, i could feel the dis­tance grow­ing be­tween us. Then one day he sat me down and said he had some­thing to talk about. This was it, i thought. he’s go­ing to end it with me. Yet in­stead he told me about a specialist called the menopause doc­tor, who had been rec­om­mended to him by one of the doc­tors at work, who he’d seen to get ad­vice. ‘she’s bril­liant,’ he said. ‘and al­though it’s pri­vate, i think we should book an ap­point­ment to see her.’

Tears welled at the cor­ners of my eyes as i re­alised just how lucky i was to be mar­ried to this man. a few weeks later we met with dr louise New­son and i ex­plained ev­ery­thing – how i’d wanted to kill my­self, how i felt worth­less, even how i thought Pa­trick was hav­ing an af­fair and how i had stalked him.

But Pa­trick wasn’t sur­prised i’d stooped so low, and nei­ther was he an­gry. ‘i’d never cheat on you. i love you,’ he said, hold­ing my hand.

af­ter end­less tears, dr New­son re­as­sured me that i wasn’t crazy, but that all my mud­dled feel­ings and anx­i­eties was be­cause of the menopause. she pre­scribed me a height­ened dose of oe­stro­gen and a testos­terone gel to ap­ply to the top of my thigh.

and now, one year on, i’m a to­tally dif­fer­ent woman. or more ac­cu­rately, the same woman – just back to the old me. That’s the woman who was con­fi­dent and would laugh and have a joke. and most im­por­tantly, the woman who trusted her hus­band.

af­ter all i have put him through i can never thank Pa­trick enough for be­ing so con­sid­er­ate, pa­tient and un­fail­ingly lov­ing. i’m so glad i found my way back to him.

‘I was con­vinced he was hav­ing an af­fair’

Un­der sus­pi­cion, hus­band Pa­trick never gave up on Re­becca

She’s fi­nally en­joy­ing life again

The fam­ily have got their ‘old’ mum back

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