real life: Menopause made me stalk my husband
Rebecca Jones, 41, thought she was losing her marriage Ð and her mind
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.
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.
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