To Santa, Love from a Menopausal Woman

Dear Santa

It’s December – so time to write that traditional letter to you all the way up there in the North Pole.

So, I’d like to start by asking for a bit of clarity on what exactly you mean by ‘good’.

I will remind you of the time 42 years ago where you made an error and brought me a pink bike with a flowery bell on it when I explicitly asked for a BMX. But anyone can make a mistake and I hope you can forgive me in the same way I (eventually) forgave you when deciding if I should go on your naughty or nice list this year.

I appreciate my regular thoughts of hitting my partner over the head with a frying pan and stabbing colleagues in the eye may perhaps make me a candidate for the naughty list. But I am keen to point out the mitigating circumstances of menopausal moodiness and in my defence clarify that at no time did I give in to these desires even when met with extreme provocation.

Also, I note that you are advising that we do not shout or cry or sigh. I would like to point out that this criteria is a little harsh on the menopausal woman – and ask that you consider leniency towards women in this stage. These are essential survival mechanisms for us. Please take this into account or you might otherwise be accused of being judgemental and in this day and age that could get you in the midst of a Twitter storm which may damage your pristine reputation.

And yes I accept that popping all the chocolates out of my advent calendar to scoff them during a particularly bad hormonal moment in November can’t be viewed as ‘good’ but again let me refer you to the justification in the paragraph above.

You have also mentioned that you can see when I am sleeping and see when I am awake. So you will be very aware that I am often, like many menopausal women, awake when I should be sleeping I hope that may also be taking into account as a mitigating circumstance when you are checking your list. And checking it twice. (this is an opportune moment to ask if you know about GDPR – you might want to google it as I am pretty sure it will impact your list creation).

I have also had a few, well let’s call them ‘menopausal honesty moments’ and aware the recipients of such moments may be keen to put me on the naughty list too – but I think overall honesty is a good thing – so let’s see that as a positive and a tick for the ‘nice’ list.

So – now that we have that sorted – here is my list (please can you read it carefully as I do not recall asking for a fat belly or a hairy chin last year – and yet here we are!):

I would like:

* A libido
* Legislation that gives all menopausal women 6 months fully paid meno-leave
* A pension (the government stole mine)
* An alibi if I do every give into my desires to stab certain people
* A gastric band that requires no surgery
* A Jo Malone Candle (I regularly ask my partner for this and am rewarded with a feckin pretend TK Maxx one – I am trusting you to know there is a difference)

Thanks Santa. I will leave your usual beer and mince pie. And some carrots for Dasher and Basher and Crasher and Flasher (or whatever their names are – menopausal brain fog is an issue at the moment).

I believe in you Santa – so how about you believe in me?

Lots of Love
xx

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Twitter: @gallopingcatast

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20 Things Not to Say to a Menopausal Woman!

1 I just sailed through it no problems at all

2 I have heard it can take about 15 years to go through it

3 Have you forgotten your HRT today hahahaha

4 Are you taking part in Movember?

5 We have ran out of chocolate

6 Ohh I didn’t want to say as I wasn’t sure – but you are
aren’t you.. you’re pregnant!

7 Don’t you think you are maybe overreacting

8 Let’s put the heating up a bit

9 It could be all in your head – after all ____ and ___ didn’t
have any problems at all

10 We have ran out of wine

11 There is something stuck to your chin.a hair or
something.. .oh um – it seems to be attached…
umm..oh sorry

12 Nice whiskers!

13 Calm down!

14 WoW! You have gained wei… umm I mean – wow you
look well

15 Let’s go out and stay up til 3am

16 It can’t be that bad!

17 Let’s go to bed – not to sleep – but to shag all night.

18 My Granny is going through it too – you are just like her

19 We seem to have no alcohol in the house

20 Check out what Gwyneth Paltrow is saying about it all

Twitter: @gallopingcatast

In Therapy

So I am officially ‘in therapy’. A decade or so ago ‘coming out’ in this way would have resulted in me being branded a Fruit Loop. But fortunately things have moved on. My aunt declares they have moved on too much and uses the example of the kids in school that now get therapy if the curly fries run out before they get to the front of the canteen queue. I am not sure of the accuracy of this but mental health does seem to be much higher profile now and for that I am grateful.

So what prompted this? Well I went for my HRT check up at the menopause clinic. A 30 min session that lasted 90 mins due to very very very high blood pressure. Which the doctor was concerned kept getting higher every 15 mins when they retook it. This may have been because I was anxiously checking with Dr Google between checks and realising a stroke or heart failure was just round the corner.

Anyway – upshot is I may have to go back to au naturel methods. And while I can just about cope with the physical symptoms, the biggest fear (from me/friends/partner/dogs amongst others) is the emotional turmoil. I searched through the alternatives to HRT, skipping past the daily Kale Smoothie/Spoon of Hemp oil etc and landed on CBT – Cognitive Based Therapy. I had a short term relationship about 30 years ago with a psychiatrist and it has always put me off a bit – especially the night out with their esteemed colleagues. All were totally utterly bonkers. It was bit like going out with a Al Anon group while they all got pissed out their heads.

But then in the Summer a friend had a spare ticket for Susie Orbach at the Edinburgh Book Festival and so I tagged along. She was the antithesis of the ex – cool, calm collected and giving an aura of ‘I will fix you’. And she wore the most amazing sparkly shoes. The psycho glitterati were asking highly complex questions so I did not feel able to ask about the glittery shoes. I did whisper to my friend if it was appropriate but got a hard long stare so I took this as a No. But I tweeted after and she replied telling me where to get them.

So on this admittedly rather flimsy evidence of her credentials, I looked her up and although it said fee negotiable, I’m not sure I could persuade her to drop as low as £2.45 which is all I could afford as she is in London so I’d also have to pick up the commuting costs from Edinburgh. So I had a wee listen to her podcasts instead. She seemed to say ‘hmmm’ and ‘ummmm’ and ‘uhu’ a lot. So at least I know what to expect.

So decided to look a bit closer to home. Feck – it is a minefield. First the cost – £75 an hour seems standard! Thats 3 bottles of Jack Daniels and a massive galaxy – and I know for a fact they make me feel better. Therapy is more of an unknown.

I draw up a list of non-negotiable criteria to narrow it down:

* Must be over 50 – am not spilling my guts to any snowflakes
* Must have lots of letters after their name – don’t want someone who just did a 2 hour course on a Saturday afternoon at the local tech analysing me
* Must look quite wide awake (Joan at work went to a therapist and was raging when she realised the therapist wasn’t reflecting on her poignant musings but had fallen asleep half way through the session. To be really fair I often feel the eyelids drooping when Joan starts banging on but for £75 an hour I’d make more of an effort)

I then look through the pictures. In one the therapists is wearing a jumper with bows and kittens. Seriously? I instantly rule her out. And the one with hair pretty much covering her face. And the one that looks suspiciously like a serial killer. And the one that has a very very low cut top on – like so low cut I still wonder if she had another career and got the photos mixed up.

Then I have a panic – what if there is a Loony List somewhere – and I end up on it due to something I say in the sessions. I google again. Apparently the only time a therapist breaks total confidentiality is if the patient says something that may cause them to be a danger to themselves or others. I resolve not to mention the many times I consider banging my partner over the head with our heaviest frying pan. Or the notion I have sometimes to take to bed for a year with just boxes of Galaxy for sustenance.

Finally I find someone who seems to be relatively sane and sorted. I buy Psychologies magazine and have a good read as I want to appear knowledgeable and as if I do this all the time when I rock up. I also treat myself to some glittery sketchers as it seems appropriate.

When I get there I am thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have gone. I am not a Fruit Loop. I am perfectly OK and normal. I might be ay ok without the HRT. I might not resort back to screaming at people who drop litter or don’t pick up dog shit/telling various people at work to eff off/crying at Save the Donkey campaigns and giving them all my money. Maybe that was just a little blip in my otherwise sane and sorted life.

I get in and the therapist gives me a big form to read over and sign. She is talking about data protection and other stuff that goes a bit over my head as I am not really listening as I am thinking more and more this was a mistake. There is an open box of tissues and I look at them knowing I won’t need them as I only cry when it is totally inappropriate and unnecessary. I have forgotten my glasses and for some reason don’t want to say – so do a passible impression of reading the form and sign it with a flourish. Then am slightly anxious that I have just signed up to 50 sessions and will have to remortgage my house to pay.

She doesn’t say umm and ahh like Suzie did… she blethers on for a bit and I am starting to get a bit bored and am digging my nails into my hand to stay awake. I am wanting to tell her that I need her to stop me eating lots of Galaxy; telling people to feck off; bursting into tears for no reason; and wanting to stay in bed all day a lot. But then she says something – and I don’t know what. But I am talking… and talking… and talking… and talking. And by the end of the session I feel I have diagnosed and cured myself. I sit back very proud of myself – waiting for her to issue me a refund and say no point in coming back.

“Hmm Let me just reflect back some of the things you have said” she muses – and starts to say things. That apparently I have said. But she must be making them up to drum up more business – surely I did not say such things. But they do sound a little familiar.

So I think I may go back – the glittery shoes aren’t quite the deal breaker I thought!

To follow me – scroll to the top and click on my face then on follow 

Twitter: @gallopingcatsast

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Shake this Mountain!

Today I officially became a Hill Walker. With the ambition of becoming a Munro Bagger. I have dropped my ultimate ambition of climbing Everest after watching Extreme Everest and finding out just how many dead bodies litter the final ascent. And also I just know the last words I would hear are ‘she’s taking too long – cut her free’ before I fell to my death and lay where I fell for all eternity with other climbers averting their eyes as they clambered past. And also finding out you have to wear a nappy thing as you can’t go to the loo or your bum will freeze off put me off a bit. I mean I have had a bit of practice with Tena Lady – but a full on nappy is a step too far! And though it may seem trivial I didn’t realise you would have to queue to get to the summit. I have been known on regular occasions to dump my basket of shopping and walk out of Tesco in a hormonal rage if the queue is too long – so I’m bloody sure I’ll be queueing to get up Everest!

Anyway I digress – back to today. I am still fat despite having joined every Fat Class and attempted almost every type of exercise there is. In fact I am fattest ever with a menopausal midriff that the Post Office are considering giving its own postcode. Hill walkers are always skinny – fact! So I will be too. It appears I am also low on vitamin D – and a bit of daylight should help that. Also – I really really want some great Facebook posts on my hill walking – my personal facebook is rather empty just now – as it would just be a sequence of posts saying ‘watching Netflix eating the selection boxes we bought for Christmas but don’t have the will power to leave them in the cupboard’. I also want the ‘hill walking’ in the interests part of my CV to be rather more factually accurate than it is now.

I did attempt GoatFell in Arran in Summer with a couple of good friends but tbh my circle of friends bond more over alcohol and take aways than outdoor pursuits. So it wasn’t a total surprise when it started to rain and we decided to abandon our efforts and just book into the Auchrannie resort and drank cocktails and wine and have a huge meal. But an acquaintance at work said I should try Dumyat first then work up a bit. And that she would accompany me – she does lots of Munros so I knew I was in safe hands and so am planning to make her a really good friend. I really prepared as have joined a lot of hillwalking Facebook groups where the inexperienced and ill equipped are soundly derided. So proper hiking boots, a lovely paramo windproof waterproof mac, proper hiking socks, walking trousers, a hat, gloves, thermal vest and a buff thing to go round my hair. The walking trousers are too tight as apparently fat girls don’t go walking so could not get my actual size – but a good tip – thread a hair bobble through the hole then use it to fasten the button – gives you another few inches give round the belly. I have packed my lovely new green high vis rucksack with various snacks, lunch, torch, foil survival bag, whistle and a map and compass which I can’t actually read. Total cost – about £700 but if you see my partner – £60 in charity shop – as they are still banging on about the £600 bike I went on once and now languishes in the shed and my £50 a month gym membership that I only use once a week when they have fresh scones in the cafe bit and the £200 worth of running stuff that is now stuffed into a drawer somewhere. But at least if Mountain rescue come out they won’t be able to release a statement about how unprepared people like me should stay home. And I do think hill walking is the new me!

It is a gorgeous bright day and I get there a bit early. It is not wasted time though as the sun shows all the hairs on my chin and I have time to eliminate all of them with my car tweezers before she arrives.

Then I see her – in jeans, trainers and a leather jacket. WTF? She pisses herself (literally which is some comfort) when she sees me. I am not that amused tbh. She explains it is 40 mins up and 40 mins back – just a stroll. Doesn’t look like a feckin stroll to me as I gaze to the top of the mountain. It just goes downhill from there onwards tbh. We start at a gate with a big sign saying pretty much that if your dog even looks at a sheep it will be shot. Sweet Dog looks rather anxious despite having zero interest in any other living creature. I reassure her and we set off.

She strides on then stops to wait for me – then strides on – then stops to wait for me. I am feckin knackered and far too hot. The thermal vest wasn’t really needed. Or the gloves or hat. I am becoming too acquainted with her arse striding on in front of me. And as she gets a good rest waiting for me she is full of energy to stride on as I get there.

I tell her just to go on without me in the end. And she pretty much runs off without a backward glance. I stride on a few more steps then fall to the ground and scream as something – I think a bird hits off the back of my head. I don’t see anything but decide to have a rest and eat my Crunchie.

A few more steps and I take some good photos for Facebook. My right heel is rubbing on the boot and my left hip hurts but no-one will see that on Facebook. Then bang – something else hits my head. FFS – it is my bloody rucksack – the bit that goes over and clips down. Except the bloody clip thing isn’t working so slightest bit of wind and it come up and bashes me on the head. FFS – I thought it was the Farmer aiming a shot at Sweet dog for minute.

Then I see either a small cat or maybe a big kitten just down below me. Oh no. I know mountain rescue don’t come out for animals. I look carefully – it is possible that it is dead – it is not moving. I feel the menopausal tears coming on. I have had to stop watching Paul O’Gradys Love of Dogs because it breaks my heart. And we had to watch Children in Need on catch up so I could whiz past the sad stories. Imagine dying on this hill all alone. But then it moves a bit – it’s a alive. I make a decision – I am calling the RSPCA – I am googling the number as I slide slowly down the hill to where the cat is. Fortunately I have no signal as it is unlikely they would have been pleased to have been called out for a black beanie cap swaying a bit in the wind. It is time for me to start wearing my glasses all the time – but I am railing against it for now. I have a bar of Galaxy before heading on a bit further.

A bit further on and I stop to have my ham sandwich and opal fruits for energy. Sweet Dog discovers a bottle of what looks suspiciously like urine and insists on sitting beside me happily chewing on it which is a bit gross tbh. But she won’t be parted from it.

I walk on a bit further and am now very achy and have pretty much ate all my supplies yet I am not at the summit – indeed the summit looks very very far away. I turn to look at the view and hear a loud ping. My phone!! I scrabble for it keen to tell whoever it is I am up a mountain. ‘Get the FUCK out the way’ I hear and look up to see six mental looking cyclists racing down the hill right for me. It wasn’t my phone it was their feckin bells pinging. FUCK OFF YOU FUCKING IDIOTS I scream as adrenalin and menopausal rage takes over. Why would you cycle down a bloody mountain when there are tons of cycle paths. One tries to turn to give me the finger and careers off the edge of the path which makes me a bit happier.

I then see my pal who might not actually be my pal for much longer come towards me. She has made it up and back down. She warns me there are a couple of bulls just a bit further up. FFS! I smile and pretend that is something me and Sweet Dog deal with on a daily basis and carry on. I look back occasionally wondering if she might slip in the cowpats I passed. And an hour later I am there. At the top. And it is amazing. I take lots and lots of photos at the summit and whatsapp/tweet/facebook and instagram them. I rest a bit longer and look at the chinese takeaway menu on my phone deciding what to order as after all this exercise I think I deserve it!

Have to go now as the chinese delivery will be here in ten – netflix is all set ready to go – and the wine should be really really cold now….

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Advice for the menopausal woman’s ‘significant others’

This post is for the HABPSO’s (Husbands and Boyfriends and Partners and Significant Others) of the menopausal women.

I get tons of messages from women saying their HABPSO’s just don’t ‘get’ the menopause and are being less than supportive!

So I thought I’d take things a step further and dedicate a whole post to the people supporting a women through their menopausal years.

One thing that can help is to live 24 hours
as a menopausal woman – this immersion will give you real insight into what it’s like and allow you to empathise more fully.

So this is how to have such a day:

* Start the experiment about 10pm – go to bed with a thermal vest, four jumpers with hot water bottles between each – and keep your electric blanket on full.
* Once you are soaked through with sweat, get up and change the bedclothes and yourself.
* Ensure you have a recording of all the things you are worried about. Set your alarm for 3am and listen to it for 2 hours.
* Just before you are about to fall asleep again – stick a bag of midgies or mosquitos in bed with you and lie itching and scratching for an hour or so
* Get up and wear clothes that are a size too small around the waist
* Before going to work tweeze your beard rather than shave
* Smoke 5 joints and take 2 sleeping tablets and a swig of nightnurse on your way to work. This will get you some way to understanding the ‘brain fog’ symptom
* Every couple of hours (ideally before a key meeting with your boss) get up and nip to the kitchen and stand in front of the industrial sized ovens for a full 10 minutes.
* Half way through meetings think of something very very sad and try to hold back the tears. If someone annoys you tell them to shut up and then worry about it for the rest of the day
* That evening allow your partner to rub your ‘joystick’ with coarse sandpaper for a long time

This will help you get a full understanding of what the woman in your life is going through. If this isn’t sufficient to get you to modify your behaviour around her – here are some really specific tips:

*If you arrive home and find said lady completely naked on top of the bed – DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT take this as an invitation to leap on her for some passion. The correct response is to say ‘hunni are you a bit hot – let me just get you some cold wine out of the fridge’.

*There are times when the lovely lady may tell you to ‘get to fuck and when you get there just keep fucking off and fucking off til you have fucked right off’. If this happens think very carefully if this is justified – perhaps you have maybe been breathing just a bit too loudly? Or returned from Marks and Spencer having picked up the cheese option, or worse the alcohol free option, from the Dine In offer? The correct response is ‘oh darling let me get you some wine and I’ll sleep in the spare room so you get some space’

* You may face a situation where you see some whiskers clearly visible on the ladies chin or upperlip. And you wonder whether to ask if she is taking part in Movember. Don’t. Just don’t. Just give her some wine.

*Some nights you may notice the woman sticking a leg in then out of the covers then in then out again. It is not the correct response to sing the hokey cokey at full volume. This isn’t even vaguely funny. Not even a little bit.

*You may be woken several times in the night with the woman suffering anxiety and wanting to talk about whether Joan at work meant anything when she looked at her funny last week. The correct response is NOT ‘oh don’t be stupid and let me bloody sleep’. You must say ‘let me get some wine and you can tell me all about it’. Even if she has already told you 18 times and forgotten about it.

*A particularly dangerous scenario is when your other half asks ‘Do I look fat in this?’. I would hope no advice is needed here. But just in case – the correct answer is NOT ‘yes you do a bit’ or ‘you’ll do’. You must look up from your phone and say ‘WOW you look AMAZING, let me get you some wine’

I hope this helps all you HABPSO’s.

Any other tips anyone would like to share??

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Wedding Blues

So I spent my 20s attending weddings. My 30s cuddling lots of lovely new babies. My 40s supporting friends through divorces. And as I enter my fifth decade it looks like attending 2nd weddings is the new black!

But it is a very different matter attending a wedding when you are a menopausal woman then when you are a young hot 20 something. Take my experiences of attending my friends marriage at the weekend.

Outfit Choice!! I used to look for the clingiest sexiest outfit possible. But not now. I had six months notice of this wedding and had planned to lose 20 pounds for it – a jump on the scales ;ast week revealed just 25 pounds to go!! FFS! I put this down to pre-minstral tension (yes I didn’t mispell that – – self medication on round circles of chocolate alleviates the perfect storm that is PMT and Peri Menopause). I am also a bit skint from menopausal poverty (ladycare magnets; supplements; holidays to cheer myself up and tena lady don’t come cheap) so really wanted to avoid spending money. My partner helpfully said there must be something in the wardrobe given it is so full that everything falls on your head when you open it. So I decided to have a good look.

Three hours later and I have said Fuck; Cunt; Bastard more times than I’ve had hot dinners. I am a bit drunk as my partner knows that when this language ensues then the only solution is Jack Daniels and Coke and has been passing glasses through as I try and ram my body into clothes that have mysteriously shrunk. I have rammed everything that doesn’t fit into black bags for the attic – to be brought down when I have lost four stone. I am left with three smock tops, three pairs of leggings, jeans that used to be very baggy but now look like skinnies and a couple of maxi dresses. All my lovely shoes are still there though – I love shoes – they don’t abandon you just cos you are a bit chunkier.

So the conclusion is I have to shop. Off I go a bit pissed and clutching my credit card. A few hours later and I have something that will do. As long as no one sees my side view. Not bad from front but arse and tummy need their own postcodes and so side view not flattering!! I am most depressed (seriously forget personal shoppers – put menopause counsellors in these changing rooms to provide support when the size 18s won’t feckin do up) but then I discover the Hats section. And the shoes section. Hats and shoes are nice. They are my friends. I get an amazing hat and some amazing tartan shoes and i am happy. Very skint now but the bride and groom said no presents and so all in all I think it balances out.

Off to the wedding and we try to remind ourselves of names of all the new partners that will be there. Menopausal brain fog means I find it hard enough to remember friends of 40 years standing let along new partners of a few years. We get to the hotel. My Hat!! My feckin Hat!! My glorious lovely Hat. It isn’t there. FFS FFS FFS. I have forgotten it – this forgetfulness is doing my head in. I start to cry. My partner doesn’t understand and refuses to drive 3 hours home to get it. So I cry some more til we decide if I get a nice updo at the hairdresser next to the hotel it will be a good compromise. Then even worse – I only have one bloody shoe. Hows is this even possible. Fuck it – I will wear my blue sketchers – I think I can carry it off.

The wedding goes with a swing. There is one close call where I meet a frienemy who cheerily tells me she is wearing the same outfit that she did on the brides first wedding. She laughs joyously as she says she thinks she might even be lighter than she was then. ‘how bloody wonderful for you’ I say as sarcastically as I can before being dragged away to the rather stunning buffet. I am relieved to see there are a number of other fatties -there was an array of fat bellys in the weddings in our 20s but normally they were baby bumps – they now are the result of the menopausal midriff. There are so many intolerants now (lactose/gluten/animal) mean that there is loads for the ‘tolerate anythings’ like me so I get stuck in – waste not want not and all that.

The first dance is a success – at the first wedding the bride was so pissed she ended up lying on the dance floor and ordering everyone just to dance round her. So this is a win.

Then it’s a bit of boogying for all of us. Ok so ‘Hot Stuff’ and ‘This Girl is on Fire’ have different connotations now – but I can still dance like no-one is watching. I start to wonder if the DJ is taking the piss when they follow that up with Katy Perrys ‘you’re hot then you’re cold’ and am about to address the issue when I am reminded I am a bit pre menstrual and we had come to an agreement I would not ‘address issues’ at these times.

At 10pm we have a quick debate whether that is too early to go back to the hotel and sleep. My social life is often planned to allow me to be in bed for 9.30pm as menopausal exhaustion kicks in then – these second weddings should really take account of this… maybe have brunch weddings or something. But then the slosh comes on – the song of all Scottish Weddings – so I dive in to lead the way – I am BRILLIANT at the slosh and the good thing is the more drunk I get the better I get at it!! We manage through to 11pm which is a huge win and stagger upstairs and are asleep by approximately 11.10pm.

Then it is time to head home – to find a forlorn tartan shoe on the driveway that is soaked through with rain. And a grumpy sweet dog who wanted to come too and is gutted to have been left behind. We snuggle up and look at the facebook pictures of the wedding and frequently have to email people to take the fecking pictures of me looking a size 18 down. I mean I am a size 18 but really – there are ways and means of photographing round that – mainly taking shots from the boobs up.

PS Happy Menopause Day to one and all!!!

PPS You can follow me on facebook – facebook.com/menopausalwoman

Or on Twitter: @gallopingcatast

 

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