You might remember Meg Mathews as an icon of the nineties Brit Pop scene, but now we know her as an ambassador for women in menopause. On the podcast today I have a very open and frank discussion with Meg, about her journey to becoming the face of menopause in the UK. I think you will find this podcast quite refreshing. Meg is a very warm and kind person, she genuinely wants women to feel supported.
From her accent, most people think Meg is from the East End of London, when in fact she grew up on the small island of Guernsey, before moving to South Africa. For 5 years she lived on a wine farm owned by her parents in Stellenbosch, before eventually moving back to the UK to attend a Quaker boarding school in Oxford. At school Meg was an accomplished athlete, which made her transition from her life through apartheid in South Africa, to this posh boarding school so much easier. After leaving school she headed to London living on the streets, before evolving as a PR in the fashion world.
It’s clear to me, during the interview with Meg, that she is somewhat of a renaissance woman, the ultimate entrepreneur. Her career moves from the fashion world, to being an aerobics instructor during the 80’s, to representing some of the biggest names in the British pop scene. She credits this to being in the right place at the right time, but it’s easy to see that she has a strong element of grit and determination behind her.
She is not shy to talk about her rock n’ roll lifestyle either. She partied hard and tried many drugs during the 90’s and was warned that these might have lasting impacts on her health. So when she was blasted with terrible menopause symptoms she assumed it was because of her hard partying of her past.
Meg never shared her struggles with anyone (sound familiar ladies?) She had no idea what was happening to her, and was scared to tell anybody. This saw her isolating herself inside her home for 3 months, she told people she had glandular fever, but really was crippled with social anxiety on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Most of her days were spent in bed binge watching telly and eating comfort food, while putting on a brave face for her daughter, who was sitting her final exams at school.
Luckily for Meg, she had a fantastic gynecologist who recognised these were symptoms of perimenopause, and was prescribed both HRT and antidepressants. Meg then sat down with her family and work colleagues to explain what was happening and despite the inevitable eye rolls that accompany the conversation of menopause, she was able to be open and honest with them.
Moving into postmenopause, Meg’s anxiety remained, despite the treatments from the doctor, everything still felt too much for her. She started to self-medicate with alcohol to numb this feeling, but remained as flat as a pancake. She was overwhelmed with feeling ill all the time, she was sick of being sick.
Talking really helped her. She started to share her woes with girlfriends, and started to realise that all women go through menopause differently, and often they are left confused. She now wants to help all women, especially young women, so they can be prepared for what lays ahead. She wants women to know that 1-in-1000 under 30’s will go through early menopause, that some women will be forced into immediate menopause from cancer and surgery. Every woman deserves information.
When Meg tried to become educated on the matter, she was faced with personal challenges from herown ADHD and Dyslexia. Poor concentration and challenges with reading, left her unable to absorb all the information in books, so she decided to create a more visual representation of her journey of menopause. Using her website and social media to create educational resources that don’t overwhelm women.
And she is not shy about tackling any subject, in fact she looks to find the shock factor which makes people stop and pay attention. So whether it’s about vaginas, sex or tits, there is no subject that is TMI!! And women seem to love her straight talking approach to this usually taboo subject.
Once Meg started talking about menopause, the media in the UK started to take notice. She had made this subject accessible to all women. Her next steps are to take this to a grassroots level, creating localised meetings for women who want to share their experiences with others in a similar situation, as Meg recognises the importance of open conversation.