Hi, my name is Nora Casey.
I don't really know what I am anymore, some people call me a serial entrepreneur but there are certain things you never want serial to be in front of. I'm also a broadcaster and a businesswoman. I think, you know, like most young women, I would say I was raised by a feminist - my mom was great. However, I went out into the world believing, that I could do anything I wanted to do in life. I started off as a nurse, I quickly switched to journalism in my 20s and before I was 30, I was a CEO.
My First Signs of Menopause
Then babies come along and derail you a little bit and life swerves, I've had a few of them, more than most, I would say. So, you hit your 40s and everyone says life begins. However, Mother Nature just has a different plan for you sometimes. So just when you think you're going to get to that little corner office in the sky, all those menopausal symptoms start to hit. Also, the reality for me is that, you know, I was never a confident child, I grew in my confidence in my 30s.
The Menopause Madness
So suddenly, I'm now in my 40s and I'm getting anxiety again, bad headaches, etc. I remember going on The Late Late Show and believe you me, it was my third time to be on that show. I had a massive panic attack beforehand. My legs went like jelly, the likes of which I've never experienced before. In fact, Ryan Tubridy had to come out and hold my hand before I went on. My brain went to mush. You know how terrifying that is, that although I'd experienced this in a boardroom, actually to be live on air and suddenly there isn't a single synapse going through my brain, nothing, I've lost it all. Now, thankfully, Ryan looked at me, eyeballed me and I finally found the words that I was trying to find in my head.
The Shock Factor
Firstly, I didn't know what the menopause was, we grow up in this hormonal life for women - puberty, I had IVF for three years, obviously I went through pregnancy with Dara. So, you know, hormones are part of your life. However, nobody tells you when they start to fall. I don't know why that is. I don't know why no one said, watch out for the symptoms. It was a total surprise to me.
My Menopause Experience in the Workplace
As a businesswoman, it was hard enough bringing up my pregnancy. Like I remember being eight months pregnant and I was the only female CEO in a group of 42 CEOs. I was reporting to Paris, living in London and Dara was kicking. They could visibly see him kicking. All the men around the table completely ignored it and so I did too, as I squirmed in my chair. So hard enough as it was to bring up pregnancy, I was never courageous enough to bring up the menopause… never!
I remember going on to do a huge presentation and beforehand, what started as a trickle of sweat, quickly became a deluge, and whatever I was wearing, was actually stuck to me. I was thinking how can go out there, there were over 1000 people in the auditorium! I went to the bathroom, washed myself, used the air dryer to dry my shirt, came back in, and I went out there and spoke, but there was a red rash that had started in my neck - symptoms I'd never had in my life. I do public speaking all of the time – but I had a lump in my throat, and my mouth was dry. I actually wanted to lift a glass of water to add some saliva to my mouth, but my hands were shaking so much I couldn't lift it.
So, for me the menopause was like this big bus, that came along and hit me. There are millions of women who hide their symptoms, not just me. I have really good friends who are the same age as me, who say that they just miss the person they used to be, it's like a total change of character.
The Importance of De-Stigmatising Menopause
I think the reality is, that issues around the menopause like acceptance, and having support in the workforce, should be commonplace. It should be as commonplace as is maternity leave!
The first step is to open up and have confidence to talk about our experiences of the menopause. Afterall, it is a perfectly natural process that every woman will go through at some point in their lives, so it makes sense to share our stories and feel reassured that we are not alone.
The menopause is a significant milestone in a woman’s life that should be celebrated and embraced, rather than endured! That’s why it is so important to start talking about the menopause, and access the support we need, so we can become more comfortable with this stage of our lives as we transition to the next.