So this writing won’t be for everyone, but I’m sharing my experience anyway because I don’t hear many people talk about it. It’s not even considered as a possible hurdle to staying well among women that I’ve spoken to in recovery. It’s something all women have to face at some point and even men have their own version of it. My secret hell is menopause and it has been the most challenging experience of my sober life yet.

I’ve been in recovery from alcohol addiction for fifteen years. In that time I have had many life experiences, some which are joyous, some which have rocked my world. I have survived all of those events, good and bad, and stayed sober. Menopause though, has left me on my knees. It’s talked about in passing, usually as a joke or some way of insulting women of a certain age, but let me tell you it’s far from a joke for me. It’s devastating in more ways than one and it’s challenging my desire to stay sober daily.

The beginning of change

I felt myself change little by little every day for the last ten years or so. I’m fifty-two now and since my early forties, it’s felt like a piece of me got lost each year. Perimenopause brought all the usual physical symptoms, weight gain, lethargy, sleep issues, feelings of rage, the list goes on. I dealt with each symptom not understanding what was happening. Still, at age forty-eight I hadn’t joined the dots and was putting it all down to some thyroid issues I was having most of my life. Even my doctor hadn’t suggested that my symptoms could be anything to do with perimenopause or menopause.

The progression

It wasn’t until I came across an article about menopause while aimlessly scrolling social media that I had a lightbulb moment and realized my hormones were the issue. What started out as mostly physical symptoms had now progressed into mental and emotional struggles. Most days, I felt like I was losing my mind. My memory was shot, I would get upset at small things, and I found it hard to make decisions or even enjoy things I used to. Coffee with a friend was too much. Even taking my dogs for a walk became a monumental task and my husband and children became increasingly worried about me. I’d spend my evenings alone in my room secretly crying feeling like I wanted to die.

I knew I needed help but where would I even start? I spoke to my doctor again, but because my blood work wasn’t showing any decrease in hormone levels he said I wasn’t in perimenopause. Little did I know that General Practitioners have very little understanding of this stage in a woman’s life and blood work is no indication as to whether you are menopausal or not.

Looking for answers

I searched online for forums devoted to menopause and thankfully I got many answers and found thousands of women in the same situation. I even talked to some women who like me, were in recovery. Some of them had relapsed because they found that using alcohol was the only way they could cope. One woman spoke to me about how before she understood what was happening to her, she felt like a failure in recovery because she didn’t feel mentally or emotionally sober. She knew at any moment she was vulnerable to taking a drink but couldn’t figure out why. I was terrified of that for myself but boy could I relate.

Just being able to connect with other women going through the same thing helped a lot. I was able to find some compassion and understanding for myself and that spurred me on to find a solution. I found a medical professional who specialized in menopause and began taking Hormone Replacement Therapy. Within a week, my sleep had improved and just that alone made me feel better. After about three months, most of the physical symptoms of perimenopause had subsided which I was monumentally grateful for. But what hasn’t changed at all for me is the mental and emotional struggle.

My Secret Hell

I don’t know myself anymore. I am in full menopause now and haven’t had a period for three years. Obviously, I don’t miss the periods but I miss the person I used to know. There is no outward reason for me to feel so low. I have a very happy marriage, two wonderful kids and happy peaceful existence. Inside though, I feel lost. I rarely go out and I quit my job because I couldn’t cope. There is no desire to socialize and be full of life like I once was, but I am so heavy with sadness inside that it stops me from doing those things. I tell my family that I’d rather be home in the garden with my dogs because I’m happier there. The truth is I cannot cope with being away from familiar environments. I’m disconnected and unsure of myself and don’t know where the confident, bright woman that I used to be disappeared to.

I have shared this with my sponsor but wouldn’t speak about how I’m feeling in a meeting. It’s a very private issue for me and I’m not sure anyone would understand. I have no problem ageing and getting older but I do have a problem with ageing and getting older feeling the way I do though. I have tried everything and made the right choices. Is this how it’s going to be now, living in my secret hell? I really hope not. Just for today, I won’t drink and maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.


  1. Hi! You might want to see a mental health professional who has experience working with women going through pre/peri/post menopause? Been there, done that, and I agree: it’s hell on wheels. I was put on an antidepressant for a number of years, which helped a lot with the depression and agoraphobia. (I no longer have to take them, by the way.) Menopause is too often ignored or discounted. Though it’s a very real problem, it isn’t even a blip on a lot of people’s radar screens.

  2. Christine C Reply

    I can so relate to this I don’t know myself anymore . I keep saying that I simply cannot find my joy and hardly remember what my laugh sounds like..

  3. Thanks you for sharing. I’ve experienced all of this…still am except I jus lost my son 22 yrs old to fentanyl poisoning last year so I’m experiencing this all on turbo!!
    Anti depressants were suggested..but I didn’t go for it. I’m in recovery for 27 yrs n it jus didn’t feel like the solution for me. I do appreciate identifying though…don’t stop sharing about this. Especially our younger generations need to know what’s least they’ll Hava clue…nobody schooled me that this was coming!!

  4. Thank you for sharing i am 67 & still have hot flashes some times but had no idea y i had all the mental & emotional issues i would rather have my period

  5. Thank you for your share re the affects of menopause. I rely heavily on women’s meetings to be able to work some of these things out. I got sober at 39, and in my early 50-s perimenopause hit me like a ton of bricks and sent me back to trauma therapy. I learned hot flashes are preceded by a release of adrenaline. Which is what wakes me up and interrupts my sleep several times a night, triggered PTSD, feelings of anxiety, irritation, and dread. And forget libido which is still a sadness! Now at 67 I’m still experiencing all of the above, thought I’d be done with it by now. But a deeper dive into the steps in Alanon has given me a great deal of relief. More salad and less carbs and a routine workout really helps allot. The addict in me still wants a pill to fix it so I still go to meetings and try to keep the faith. It is not easy sometimes.

  6. I’m with you, I also feel very much the same. I feel numb most of the time when I don’t feel crazy. I no longer can afford insurance after breast cancer and I feel disabled in many ways because I’m not getting the health care I so badly need! I long to have the insurance and income / funding I used to have, I’m trying my best to find ways to get help online in groups, though I generally don’t like sharing in large groups and I prefer one on one, thank you for helping me feel for this moment that I’m not alone. Thank you for sharing.

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