Martine McCutcheon details 'crippling anxiety' of perimenopause: 'You feel like you've lost your own damn mind'
Martine McCutcheon has shared how she is coping with some of the symptoms of the perimenopause, revealing that she has been living with "crippling anxiety" that made her feel she had lost her mind.
The actor, 46, discussed the update in an honest post on Instagram, detailing the symptoms she'd been experiencing in the period leading up to the menopause and the treatments she'd tried to ease them.
"Peri menopause [sic] symptoms... Such Fun!" she wrote. "I have the hot flushes, the insomnia, the brain fog and fatigue … The list goes on doesn’t it?!"
The former EastEnders star went on to say that as she has been living with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia since her 20s and although she has been able to cope with those symptoms, the additional symptom of the perimenopause has been more difficult to handle.
"What I’ve personally not heard mentioned as much, is the crippling anxiety you can get with the peri menopause," she continued.
"A kind of irrational anxiety that makes no sense whatsoever! You feel like you’ve lost your own damn mind!"
Read more: How menopause can affect your mood and other things you need to know
McCutcheon explained that she wanted to share her own battle with anxiety in the hope it might help others going through something similar.
"Just in case any of you out there feel the same and feel scared or worried - You aren't alone!"
The Love Actually actor went on to explain how the side effect had impacted her to such an extent that she had lost her confidence with driving.
Thankfully, she has now found a treatment which seems to be helping.
"I’m now feeling much better and I’m working my way back to my own 'normality'," she continued.
"I changed from the HRT (hormone replacement therapy) patches to the gel and it made a big difference within days for me… I was thinking maybe the HRT wasn’t going to work for me and I know many women who can’t use it, manage to find other ways to get through this phase comfortably.
"But the gel has really made a difference, so I’m feeling grateful for that - although I’ve also had a few anxious days again lately, so I’m still tweaking and working out the most efficient combo to be the best I can be."
As well HRT, McCutcheon shared some other changes she's made to combat the anxiety.
"I’ve just had a brisk walk, I’ve meditated and I now feel much calmer and content," she added. "I’m sending any of you going through the peri meno/meno all my love, strength and the belief that you WILL be the true you again - With bells on… And that the best is yet to come! We can do this!"
Watch: Mental health services failing to consider impact of menopause, putting women at risk of suicide
Last year the actor was praised for her honest description of her mental health struggles in a candid post shared to Instagram.
To reflect the fact that mental health struggles can impact us differently at different times, she shared two images, taken on separate occasions.
In the first photo, she was looking reflective as she sat inside wearing a woollen hat, while in the second she looked much more upbeat as she walked her dog in a park.
In the accompanying caption, McCutcheon spoke about her own personal issues, while lending support to those who face their own mental health problems.
"To those who battle with any kind of mental health issue & yet put on their make up, or get up & fight for another day, or try new ways to live, love, & generally work their way through this thing called life - I salute you," the star wrote.
"Sometimes it's far from easy. I've always been pretty open about my health issues - Both mental & physical but there is also so much more to me - So it's something I've touched on rather than focused on. I didn't want any kind of victim label, as I actually feel the opposite of that."
Read more: Kathy Burke considered taking own life during menopause
Read more: 'And Just Like That' highlights perimenopause symptom: What are ‘flash periods’?
McCutcheon has previously opened up about suffering “migraines from hell” as a result of Lyme disease and fibromyalgia.
The star, who is mother to a seven-year-old son with her husband Jack McManus, has suffered several health issues.
In 2011 she was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which is also known as chronic fatigue syndrome and can cause extreme tiredness.
McCutcheon isn't the only celebrity to share their struggles with the perimenopause and menopause recently.
Earlier this month Lisa Snowdon discussed the stigma she believes still exists in talking about the menopause, while also revealing the stress triggers she has been trying to avoid while going through it.
The TV and radio presenter, 51, has reflected on how she managed her symptoms after she went into perimenopause aged 44.
Read more: How can alcohol affect you during menopause?
While Snowdon says taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) "really helped" her, she also advises women to work out their “triggers” to help manage stress as they enter the menopause.
“As we get into the perimenopause and menopause, processing stress can be hard. Working out your triggers can help," she tells Women's Health magazine.
“If it’s certain people, try to avoid them. If it’s caffeine, stop at one coffee. And if you say yes to everything, be mindful of that.
“We may not be able to do all the things that we used to do, but we can go a bit slower and look after ourselves.”
Davina McCall has also previously discussed her experiences of the menopause, detailing the surprising first perimenopause symptoms she experienced from the age of 44.
The presenter, now 55, revealed she'd noticed "overnight" changes to her legs and hair, as well as a "frightening" newfound forgetfulness.
Writing in The Mirror, the star explained: "I’d wake up in the middle of the night and the sheets would be soaking.
"I felt my entire body had turned into a prune. My legs were super dry when I got out of the shower. Something had changed with my hair too – and it felt like it had all happened overnight."
McCall continued: "Then there was the forgetfulness: my phone was in the fridge, my keys ended up in the bin. This reached really frightening levels, I forgot everything. Words, names, events – everything."
McCall now wants to raise awareness of medications – like modern hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and modern transdermal HRT – which can help manage symptoms.