I have recently become one of those women that mutters “it must be my age” whenever I can’t remember what I was going to do. What’s worse is that my husband and teenagers can be heard muttering it about me too. And I catch my reflection in the mirror sometimes and I’m really, genuinely surprised. I mean, I didn’t feel old on Sunday so how is it that on Monday I look it? To be honest though I have quite a growing list of “How is it” questions, such as …
- How is it I (need to) wear more make-up now than I did as a teenager?
- How is it that my skin is so dry I occasionally worry one of the kids might have tried to mummify me during the night?
- How is it that I ache all the time even though I last exercised probably about a year ago?
- How is it I actually have spots again?
- How is it there are some nights when I just can’t sleep no matter how exhausted I am?
- How is it that I have hair randomly sprouting out of my chin whereas it seems downright bloody reluctant to grow from my scalp any longer?
And, the most embarrassing for me ..
- How is it that I go from being a competent woman dealing with teenage angst, managing a team and resolving more than just the occasional crisis to having tears pouring down my face, all because the particularly smiley barista at Starbucks was nice to me?
It seems there’s only one explanation – MENOPAUSE.
Or rather perimenopause to give it it’s proper name. Perimenopause, I’ve recently learned is the transition to menopause (when the ovaries stop releasing eggs) and the average length is apparently four years. I’m sorry – did you actually read that? FOUR YEARS!!!! And that’s just an average, some of us will go through it much quicker and some of us could be stuck in it for even longer. Symptoms can include irregular periods, hot flushes and night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, (is anybody else inwardly screaming yet?) loss of confidence, decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, breast tenderness, bloating, and if all that wasn’t enough, we need to brace ourselves for urinary leakages! Apparently we can’t even have a good laugh about it.
It’s like puberty with the added responsibility of mortgage payments and a looming pension deficit. When I started my periods my main concerns in life were the state of my skin, whether I would ever have a boyfriend and my O levels in the dim and distant future. Now I’m finishing my periods my main concerns are the state of my skin, whether my kids have sufficient emotional resilience to cope, and the crushing fear that this actually IS my future.
I’m a bit of a Google junkie and it’s clear to me that there are lots of websites, blogs and Facebook pages with a wealth of information about the menopause, and the journey to it. There are lots of experts and there are lots of opinions. What I know without any reference to Google however is that there are lots and lots of women going through it and wondering how is it that we feel so bewildered by it all. We don’t want anti-depressants and we’re still not entirely sure about HRT. We’re willing to consider a few dietary changes but not if we have to start eating flax seeds and quinoa. We’d love to sit and read a book about it but if we had a spare few hours we’d actually rather go out with our girlfriends and drink cocktails thanks all the same.
So where do I go to find women that aren’t quite ready to simply put up with it, who haven’t entirely lost their zest for life but can’t quite remember where they last left it. Blogland seems like a pretty good place to start.
My intention/hope with this blog is to create a space for us to share our stories, find friendships, reinvent “normal” and distribute virtual tissues and hugs to one another when we feel the need to cry into our coffee cups (or cocktails, your choice). I really hope you’ll join me and that we’ll have some fun on the way too. Just be careful not to laugh too much – we all know what that might lead to ….