Meg Matthews: “There’s something so empowering about putting your wellbeing first”
-Oct 18, Jenny Paul, Living -
Meg Matthews has gone from gracing the covers of the newspapers with the Primrose Hill party set back in the nineties, to inspiring women globally to live happy, healthy lives before, during and after menopause, thanks to her brilliant website MegsMenopause – since it launched earlier this year.
The mum-of-one approaches learning all that she can about menopause as a vocation, and she certainly practices what she preaches when it comes to health, with a holistic – and extremely thorough – regime that’s driven by a simple desire to feel the best she can.
In this exclusive interview on World Menopause Day, Meg talks to Lumity Life magazine about her journey through the menopause, which she describes as the ‘worst 18 months’ of her life, to becoming an unlikely cheerleader for turning menopause on its head and smashing the taboos that surround talking openly about it.
It’s great that you’re putting so much work into taking the taboo out of menopause. Women still seem to have no idea they’re in menopause and yet will be reeling off symptoms like anxiety and depression as well as not one period for months as if it’s all somehow not related. What would be your advice to a friend in that position, someone who’s clearly menopausal but in denial?
The best advice I have to offer is that all these symptoms are completely manageable, so the sooner you start tackling them, the better you’ll feel. It’s crazy how much changing your diet and exercise routine can make you feel so much better. But if you don’t do anything about it, you’ll just suffer unnecessarily!
You have said that the first year and a half of menopause were the worst 18 months of your life and that you even told friends you had glandular fever. That must have been awful?
Completely, I had nearly every symptom in the book, and there are 34 symptoms! The physical aches and pains are difficult, but they aren’t the worse part. It’s the anxiety, the mood swings, the overwhelming fatigue, feeling like you’ve completely lost your sense of self – it’s enough to make you invent glandular fever as an excuse to get out of everything!
Fortunately, I found CBD oil – since taking it, my anxiety has completely disappeared. I thought it was too good to be true but it’s real, safe, and legal. I made my own range, The M Blend, which is linked onto my website. It comes in oils, sprays, creams, and even gummy bears!
What made the penny finally drop that it was menopause and what would be your message to other women who are currently suffering in silence?
I kept going back to the GP and when I was prescribed anti-depressants, I knew I needed to do my research. I knew it wasn’t depression! So, I did a ton of research, looking in to see if there was any connection between what I was feeling and of course, it was the menopause.
I know everyone’s different, but for those suffering in silence, I really suggest opening up. It helped me so much to get a conversation started. I told my colleagues, my family, and my then-partner what I was going through and it was so nice to hear that they supported me and would help me out with whatever. It can be hard for those who aren’t going through it to understand, so being open about what you’re feeling and experiencing can help those around you be supportive. That way, if you snap, they don’t take it personally, or if you are feeling low, they know what’s going on. Since starting MegsMenopause, so many women have told me that they find a lot of comfort in reading other people’s stories and experiences and just talking to people who understand. It’s cathartic.
The message seems to be getting out there now, with you at the helm inspiring and championing women, that in fact, once you get the symptoms in check, menopause signals that fantastic “phase two” of your life where you have no time to waste and you really start to look after your fitness and keep an eye on what you eat so you can feel your best. Has that been true for you? It seems so…?
Absolutely! There’s something so empowering about putting yourself and your wellbeing first. There’s no reason to look at this time in life as the end, it’s just a new beginning. To help you get through the menopause, you have to think about taking care of your body, and once you get into the habit of it, you realise just how great it is being fit, being healthy – it sounds silly, but it’s revolutionary.
Davina McCall said a surprising benefit of menopause was her sex life improved, have you noticed that? (We have heard it could be down to Testosterone in HRT treatments but other women insist that it’s no longer worrying about getting pregnant!)…
At first, not at all. I always had quite a high sex drive, but the menopause brought my libido down so low. It’s almost funny to think about it now, but at the time I wasn’t laughing. I kept putting off sex with my then-partner, and it got to the point where I told him I couldn’t have sex because I had cystitis. To make that more believable, I went to the pharmacy and bought medication for it – all to avoid sex!
But I did recently notice something interesting: when I came off anti-depressants (which I was on at the time), my libido came back! I did more research into it and found that anti-depressants can cause women to lose their sex drive!
Your website is brilliant. I have watched it grow from an idea when it was first online and now it’s a really helpful wealth of information. You must be really proud?
Thank you so much! I’m really proud, but above that, I’m just really happy it helps. Women write in all the time and we talk together about our experiences, it’s nice to have a community. A few months after starting the website, I started publishing stories that women sent in (with their permission, of course), which I think is one of the best parts of the whole project. Now, we have 3-4 articles released every week, a very active social media, and are selling a range of CBD products on the website – it’s really taken off!
Is your daily regime still as extensive? (I read that it was fresh mint tea in the morning, then a superfood salad for lunch and salmon or chicken for dinner. As well as magnesium, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D3, calcium for the bones, a shot of cider vinegar, a big shot of aloe vera, red clover for hot flushes, evening primrose oil and fish oils as well as hormone treatments). Do you still do all of that?
Now I’ve added in CBD! But no, I’ve gone vegan, so I don’t eat salmon or chicken, which can make it hard. I try my best to get all my nutrients naturally through food, but add in supplements to help fill in the gaps where needed. I’ve done a lot of research into herbal remedies and the benefits of supplements, so I’m careful about what I take and not to take too much (for example, I learned there’s a risk of build-up in the arteries if you take plain calcium tablets, so I switched to ‘bone health’ supplements).
What about workouts? Do you still hit the gym 3 days a week or are you trying something new? You look really fit and healthy…
I get bored quite easily in general, so I always try to switch it up! Like this week I did a special Bottom Building workout class and could hardly move the next day because I was so sore – but it felt great (other than the fact I was hosting a dinner party that night and my sore muscles were not of any help)!
We love that you’ve gone from dancing at dusk to walking the dogs at dawn. You seem genuinely happier now than you did when you were in your twenties – do you think that’s true?
I think it is. I’m clean, I’m healthy, I have an amazing daughter who’s just started university and I couldn’t be prouder of her. I’m really excited about MegsMenopause and everything we have lined up for it! Of course, I still have my down days like we all do, but I’m at a really great place in my life.
We’re celebrating strong, inspiring women at the moment – who, or what, was your inspiration growing up?
I didn’t have one inspiration growing up – for me, music was my inspiration. That’s what inspired my youth and shaped me from the start.
We all know that women can find it difficult making time for themselves, so how do you find that time and what do you do with it?
I’ve always enjoyed being busy, so I think I just got used to creating a schedule for myself and being able to stick to it. When you plan things out, you sometimes realise you have a lot more time than your anxiety will tell you. I like spending time with my friends, having a chat, and with my dogs of course too (and sneaking in a few episodes of TV here and there)!
You always come across as being so happy and upbeat, so what really makes you smile?
It’s cliché, but my family, my friends, my health, and my work. I don’t need anything else, and I’ve learned they’re all things you need to invest a lot of time and care into. Once you do, and once you stop taking any of it for granted, everything gets better.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about anything?
“This too shall pass” (which I have tattooed!)
If you could offer Anais (Meg’s daughter) only one piece of advice what would that be?
Be true to yourself and kind to people and animals.
We are celebrating strong women at the moment so we’d like to know who your ultimate strong woman is and why?
My mum, absolutely.
If you found this helpful, one of our clients tells us about being diagnosed with early menopause and how she coped. And, we love that Emma Forbes insists that being over fifty is ‘phase two’ where there’s no time to waste and you can really focus on your health, diet and overall happiness levels after years of looking after other people!
Always see your doctor in person if you’re ever worried about your health or symptoms that you’re experiencing.