I spent 32 years in my marriage until my husband left me for a much younger woman. My 5 children were taken away and I almost lost my life. I went into depression and anxiety, became restless, full of anger, bitterness, and my mental health was unbearable. I deserted myself from my family and friends and this almost made me commit suicide.
My name is betty, 53 years old mother staying in Namuwongo, a slum in Kampala district. I am a fashion designer by profession. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I closed the shop and moved all my belongings to my place of residence.
Everyday, I move my sewing machine to the veranda where I work from. I started seeing my husband’s unusual behavior towards me and my children. He was bitter, always complaining about the small stuff and being quarrelsome about everything. He had changed. One day he didn’t come back home for two days and without leaving us with anything to eat. When he came back, he took some of his clothes and this time he didn’t come home for 3 weeks. I was struggling to feed my children with the help of the neighbour’s left overs.
The next time he showed up, he took the children because I couldn’t feed them. When I called his brothers and sisters, that’s when I learnt that he had remarried another younger woman in her late 20’s.
He complained about how I no longer satisfy him in bed, always complaining during sexual intercourse and not allowing to be touched.
I consulted with the neighbouring older women and was advised to see a witchdoctor to bring back my husband. I knew my problem and was determined to bring back my husband home.
When I went to the senior woman councilor, she advised me to visit the nearby clinic to get medicine. I found there nurses who were younger than me and feared to talk to the about my condition. I requested for a much older person and there came my agemate. We discussed marriage issues and I expressed disappointments in men who can’t support their women on such issues. The senior nurse told me that I was going through a stage in life called Menopause. It was my first time of hearing these words and requested for more information.
Since they had no fliers and brochures I went away with little knowledge about menopause. The nurse advised me to start taking Omega 3 and start on HRT immediately. These were very expensive medication. On reaching home, I started working to understand more about these menopausal challenges I am going through. Most women told me to drink a lot of millet porridge, take a lot of fluids like blended juices with local herbs and eat a balanced diet.
Our culture teaches us to be submissive to our husbands. We discussed my issue with my husband and he later realized that I wasn’t my fault but the body changes. He finally came back home with the kids but I remained to be the first wife and he remained with his second wife. He now understands that I have to eat a balanced diet to be able to make him happy during our marital exercises.
I still want to know more about the changes in my life that I am about to face before they come. Menopause Initiative Uganda gives me information on menopause and its challenges to become ready for anything.