Katie Taylor on how menopause created her new career

I was 43, when I began to struggle with low mood. My usual bubbly, outgoing, capable persona was slowly replaced with low energy, brain fog and anxiety.

As a mum of four kids I just put it down to juggling my family, home and job.

But hit with insomnia, I spent the next four years trying to function on just three hours sleep a night. My unrelenting symptoms forced me to give up my much loved job in charity communications.

I didn’t get the typical hot flushes and night sweats, but I did have heart palpitations and my periods had become shorter, and heavier and I put on a lot of weight.

My GP said I was probably stressed and depressed, as I was working full-time and had a very busy family life and so that was when it was suggested I took some time off, hence why I quit my job.

I was given antidepressants but they didn’t make things any better, they just made me feel numb. I just felt like I could no longer get any joy out of life.

I tried going to the gym a bit more and eating more healthily, but nothing helped.

I was sent to a heart specialist for my palpitations, which ruled out a heart condition. A neurologist, which ruled out early onset dementia. A rheumatologist for my joint pains.  In fact I went back and forth to different doctors and specialists over the years about all the various symptoms I was suffering from, which made me feel like I was either going mad or was a hypochondriac.

It was my father, Professor Michael Baum, a surgical oncologist who specialised in breast cancer, who eventually suspected all my symptoms were hormone-related, and arranged for me to see one of his colleagues – a gynaecologist specialising in menopause.

She did a blood test and said my oestrogen levels were “on the floor” and that all my symptoms were due to perimenopause and suggested I go on HRT immediately.

It was the first time I’d heard the word perimenopause.

Within a couple of months, I’d weaned myself off the antidepressants and suddenly realised that I was starting to feel like my old self again.

I remember watching a comedy show on TV and realising it was the first time I’d laughed and felt any joy in four years.

My husband commented that he felt like he had got his wife back, and my kids their mum.

The night of my diagnosis I came home and cried with relief on my bed that I wasn’t going mad and there was an explanation for everything I’d been feeling but I felt really, really angry at that time that so many doctors had misdiagnosed me and I had wasted four years of precious life not really living.

I decided there and then to start a Facebook group and website aimed at women over 40, so that I could share my experience with others and help all those who may also have been in the dark about their own symptoms.

We now have more than 25,000 members on our Facebook Group and thousands more on Instagram and our other social channels talking about all areas of midlife health and wellbeing, not just perimenopause and menopause.

It is a very safe, warm, friendly and non-judgmental community that our followers are genuinely happy to be part of.

I also have a medical advisory team who I turn to for advice when our members email me with their problems they may need some help with and on our website we also have a directory of specialists, a directory of offers and discounts from our partners and a blog zone, full of evidence-based and exceptionally helpful information about all areas of midlife.

We also run an annual, week long, free online event, The Midlife Festival, where we bring together some of the UK and world’s leading experts in their field to help educate and inspire women with the most up to date information on all areas of midlife health and wellbeing.

Last year we launched our podcast; Midlife and Menopause Uncovered which has already had over 50,000 downloads after only a few episodes!

Through our platform we also raise awareness and funds for our charity partner, The Eve Appeal – the UK’s gynaecological cancer research charity, researching the five main gynae-cancers: Womb, Ovarian, Cervical, Vulva & Vaginal.

I also use my experience to educate and raise awareness of menopause and perimenopause – particularly in the workplace where I run awareness events and support the development of menopause guidelines and policies and increase knowledge of how employers can support employees through this phase of life, so they can support women to stay in the workplace.

I don’t blame my drs for what happened to me, after all they only have 10 minutes to chat to a patient, and there is no mandatory GP training in menopause currently, hence why so many women are not getting the right treatment. That’s why I’m constantly working alongside many other menopause campaigners and colleagues who I’ve met through my work, to try and change all that sooner rather than later.

I am now passionate about campaigning and supporting women with their perimenopause and menopause symptoms, as well as all health and wellbeing issues throughout midlife and beyond.

I now look back on my negative experience and am grateful for all the positives it has given me, because had I not gone through that troubling time, The Latte Lounge would never have been created and I would not have been able to help all the thousands of women who come to us for support day in day out.

For more stories, advice and interviews, head to the Menopause Your Way Stories hub. To browse and shop a curated edit of menopause products, visit the Menopause Your Way page on QVC.

The content of the QVC website is for information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the QVC website.

We understand there’s a lot of information out there on the menopause. You can read through the NICE guidance on menopause management, as well as the NHS overview on the menopause.