There are many things people don’t tell you about the menopause – and all are perhaps typified by this incident that took place the other day as I arrived at work.
I went to get into the lift and two men barged past me hitting the button for floor 19 – completely oblivious to me.
Menopausal invisibility – that is one thing that the menopause guides don’t warn you about. Ironic when often it is a time when you are fatter than you have ever been. One day you just wake up and it’s like the world doesn’t see you anymore and all of a sudden you realise what a youth obsessed world we live in. I got wearily in behind them and pressed button 2 – I should have taken the stairs but menopausal insomnia and related menopause fatigue combined to make that an impossibility.
Then a flash of menopausal anger kicked in at being ignored – and angrily I punched every single floor number on the lift from 2-19. They saw me then!
Then just before I got out (and I know I should be embarrassed admitting this but I am really not – menopausal honesty is a real thing!!) I emitted a tiny silent but utterly deadly fart. I departed and had to hold the wall for a bit as I laughed at the thought of them chugging up 17 floors slowly stopping at every one while trying not to breathe in the acrid fumes.
The menopause tends to take away any cares you have of what people think of you.
Laughter and menopause – that’s two words you seldom see together. The menopause is a topic usually more associated with expressions such as depression; mood swings; bloating (the menopot!); excess facial hair and aging. The lack of support for the seismic change that women go through at this time is truly shocking. Stories on Menopause forums would bring you to your knees.
Women feeling they have gone mad; leaving relationships and jobs; struggling to cope with the symptoms while having the stress of being part of the ‘sandwich generation’ – often looking after aging parents and children who are staying at home way longer than they used to. The average age for female suicide in the UK is 51-54 – is it any wonder that it is the same as the average age for the menopause? I don’t think this is a co-incidence and it is appalling that there is so little support out there. However, it is great though the menopause is being talked about more
The focus is often on the inconveniences and embarrassments of the menopause. But being slap bang in the middle of it, it can be pretty dammed funny! The way you suddenly find yourself behaving can shock you – I would NEVER have behaved that way in the lift before menopause! Or perhaps the irony of it all! Sitting in front of a magnifying mirror to pluck your chin while bemoaning the sparseness of your eyebrows and the thinning of your hair.
And just when you no longer need contraception – you go off sex! Lying naked on the bed with the windows open is most definitely not an invitation to your other half for some passion! More a sign that you need some ice cream to help you cool down and ideally if they could head to the spare room and leave you in peace with Netflix that would be so much the better.
Getting to the height of your career and brain fog kicks in and you can barely remember your co-workers names. I once stood in front of a security door at work trying to open it by clicking my car key fob at it. Thankfully a kind colleague of a similar age kindly pointed out the security pass round my neck might work better!
What you used to see as punishments as a child now become life’s little pleasures as crashing fatigue kicks in. Going to bed early – result!! Grounded and banned from social events – marvellous!! FOMO (fear of missing out) is suddenly replaced with JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).
Laughing with (or let’s be honest – laughing at) other menopausal women’s predicaments can be great therapy as well as sharing your own. I giggled earlier at my friends text telling me of her mortification when a Tena lady fell out from under her shirt as she was presenting to a conference (she suffers badly from hot flushes and sticks them inside her shirt under the armpit to soak the sweat up)
And the remedies!! It’s not so long ago that Doctors felt women suffered because they no longer bled and therefore recommended the placing of leeches on women’s genitals as a cure! Thankfully there are rather more palatable options now. I met another friend for lunch a while back and as she leaned forward to hug me my pendant swung forward and stuck firmly to her crotch. We both fell about laughing as She explained she was wearing a magnet on her knickers in an effort to reduce her menopausal moodiness. She phoned me three days later in a rage as She had forgotten to remove it and didn’t realise til She heard an ominous clunk clunk from the washing machine!!
We had a menopause event at work – the following day I asked my colleagues if they had tried the free facemasks we were given. They were all a bit blank – transpired I had been spreading the free lube samples on my face!! To be honest my skin glowed and so all my colleagues decided to do the same.
Being honest and open about a topic which has been taboo for so long can be difficult. One of my friends almost dropped her wine when we were out at lunch a couple of years ago and I asked her what her worst menopausal symptom was. ‘Darling – we are in a RESTAURANT’ she hissed. I tried to pursue the conversation but she wasn’t having it. ‘I am going through it and it is absolutely fine – you just make a drama out of everything’ she said closing the conversation down. Anyway – turned out her lack of periods was due to pregnancy not menopause which I found quite amusing which probably makes me sound a real bitch – but her daughter is now 2 and adores me as her number one babysitter so I can’t be all bad. My friend will be 51 when she takes her to school on her first day.
So maybe humour is the best therapy we can have while experiencing menopausal symptoms – laughing til the tears run down our legs!! This stage in our lives can be a bit crap but a privilege that is denied to many. Friends we have lost over the years would no doubt tell us to get going and make the most of every minute as we approach the next chapter in our weird and wonderful lives.
Book – ‘Galloping Catastrophe: Musings of a Menopausal Woman’ available on Amazon as a paperback or an ebook