An ‘Embracing the Menopause’ afternoon tea organised by the Norfolk Chambers of Commerce takes place in Norwich on Monday. Digital Content Manager Haze Carver explains why she’s passionate about getting the menopause on the menu
Having a hot flush in the middle of meeting at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital was a pivotal moment for Haze Carver. The now Digital Content Manager at Norfolk Chambers of Commerce decided to not just wait for it to settle down but to be open about it. ‘I had to say, ‘I know I’ve gone red, it’s the menopause, but you’re mostly doctors so you’ll know what to do if I pass out! From that point I thought, right, I’m just going to say it now – otherwise you internalise it and it just means you are ashamed. Ashamed sounds so strong but it isn’t.’
Haze is on a mission to get the menopause out in the open. Which is why, on Monday, the Norfolk Chamber is collaborating with Wellbeing International and hosting an ‘Embracing the Menopause’ afternoon tea event at Norwich Theatre Royal.
She started going through the menopause soon after she had her second child, in her early 40s. She grew up in Norfolk and had returned to the county after years of working for a graphics company in London.
‘I grew up here and couldn’t wait to get away. It wasn’t until I had kids, I thought ‘I want my mum and dad around’,’ says Haze. ‘Norwich has changed so much since I was here at arts school.’
She reflects on her experience of going through the menopause. ‘When it started happening, I’d be in a meeting and someone would say ‘have you done that’ and I’d say, ‘oh, did you ask me to do that?’ My memory had always been amazing – I could remember anything from years ago and could remember people’s names. Now? No.’ Haze found a way of getting round it. ‘I call everyone ‘lovely’ and everyone ‘sir’ because sometimes I can’t remember.’
At a work one-to-one, she decided to say she was struggling with her memory, as she was conscious that it might look as though she wasn’t working hard enough. In fact, Haze would say, ‘I was working even harder, after lockdown and home-schooling and effectively doing three jobs at once. Looking after yourself comes bottom of the list.
‘I felt like I was having to overexplain that it wasn’t a lack of me caring for my job. I absolutely love my job. If I didn’t say the menopause word it could look like I’m not working hard enough because I’ve forgotten this and that.’
At one stage Haze thought she was developing Alzheimer’s, having watched a documentary about the best-selling author Terry Pratchett. ‘I went to the doctors and did a test and they said ‘no, you are perimenopausal – the markers are showing up’.’
She then had a breast cancer scare – which thankfully came back clear. She recalls: ‘The way I dealt with it was so unlike me. Looking back, I think going through the menopause did change how I dealt with things. I would be more anxious and more worried and normally my sense of humour would get me through – I thought, where’s it gone?’
When she first returned to Norfolk, Haze had tried her hand at freelancing. Having struggled with the brain fog, one of the main symptoms of menopause, she says: ‘I think it was probably good that I decided not to freelance and be on my own all day as that might’ve tipped me over the edge.’
She has been at the Norfolk Chamber for nearly four years, initially as an account manager but now as Digital Content Manager. The last five years for the 126-year-old Chamber have seen a period of transformational change under the leadership of Chris Sargisson and, as of this year, Nova Fairbank.
Haze is all for building relationships with people in business and will openly talk about the menopause at networking events. It got her thinking about how many other women in businesses were going through the same thing.
Menopause Support is now becoming a major part of every organisation’s training and awareness schedule, and work had paid for Haze and a colleague to go on a one-day course at Erpingham House in Norwich, with menopause expert Kate Pigeon-Owen, the CEO of Wellbeing International.
‘Kate talked about how massage can help and the way your brain works – for me it was like a lightbulb moment: ‘I’m not going mental’.’ Women from all over Norfolk attended and it led to the setting of a WhatsApp group. ‘We all chatted on there for quite a while and that was really useful to be able to say, ‘me too’, and ‘oh, I know’.’
Haze is passionate that every woman gets access to the knowledge, support and help to deal with the effects of menopause and the upshot is the ‘Embracing the Menopause’ afternoon tea event at Norwich Theatre Royal event on Monday, a collaboration between the Norfolk Chamber and Wellbeing International.
At the event, trainer presenter Kate, a world class expert on stress management, communication, massage and menopause, will explore the ways to embrace menopause. The event is gender neutral and completely inclusive. Haze makes the point that women in their 30s could benefit from being educated about ‘something that WILL happen.’ Following the welcome, Kate will give a 45-minute talk which will be followed by the afternoon tea and a Q&A.
‘It will open the dialogue,’ says Haze, before adding that the dialogue will continue with the new ‘Chamber Chats’, starting in February and building on the successful online chats during the lockdowns of 2020. At the sessions, members can chat about things they ‘wouldn’t want to go to an event to talk about but would go online to talk about.’ Everything will be up for discussion, from diversity and inclusion to the menopause. Plus, Haze will be continuing with her engaging podcasts, interviewing people in the local business community.
Haze and the team are busy planning events for next year and says: ‘The Chamber has been going for 126 years. We wouldn’t have been around that long if we weren’t moving with the times and changing. The things the Chamber had to deal with 126 years ago are not the things we are talking about now – like the menopause.’
The ‘Embracing the Menopause’ afternoon tea event takes place at Norwich Theatre Royal on Monday November 21, from 2.30-4.30pm, and is a collaboration between Norfolk Chambers of Commerce and Wellbeing International. Visit eventbrite. Member rate £22.20 +VAT; Non-member rate £25 +VAT.