Six Menopausal Women hit the Lakes

So this weekend was spent in the Lakes celebrating Tina the Turners birthday – the second in a slew of 50s happening over this year.

Tina the Turner isn’t actually 50 til October but she decreed long ago that any birthday she had that that finished with a 0 must last a full year. And who are we to differ?

This one was special as the last time we were all together (due to Geography and Life) was for her 21st. Even with menopausal brain fog it didn’t take long to work out that was 29 years ago. ‘How can this be?’ we mused, convinced that we surely cannot have been on this planet long enough to have lived almost 3 decades since we were 21. We certainly do not have the wisdom one would expect from such life experience and thanks to l’oreal we have no grey hairs either! Further analysis concluded that most of us are now in our sixth decade on this planet. FuckaDuck!

Travel arrangements were complex with no-one wanting to travel in my car due to my tendency to roll the windows down during a hot flush. Often this isn’t a huge problem, but I guess this reluctance is currently understandable as it is currently minus 8 with frequent blizzards. However the other options for the non drivers were Pee Stop Pam who has to pull into every service station to go and have a wee, and Easily Distracted Rachel whose driving since hitting the menopause has become erratic to say the least. So I got my lovely pal Amy and we compromised that I would roll the window down only twice, and she would keep a rug in the footwell to use at these times. A sensible solution for two sensible adults. I remember for the 21st we were only bothered about how much booze we could ram into the car – how times change!

And so Six Menopausal women went off to the Lakes. We were joined by Tina’s 35 year old cousin, Kerry who lives near our cottage. She is quite funky and set us all up a whatsapp group. We got to our location to discover she had posted a number of bars and pubs in Penrith and found a taxi firm that could take us there.

How we laughed!!! We were still laughing at half seven when she arrived to find us putting on our pajamas. We chat about the best slippers to wear to keep warm. I favour a stout all enclosed fur lined slipper but Tina is on other end of the spectrum – not quite ready to give up her mules. Slipper socks seemed the most popular. Kerry tries not to let her disappointment show at our mirth at the thought of actually getting dressed up and going out somewhere.

We all then poured the gin and started a game of Cards against Humanity. I had never heard of this and having now played several rounds – I can state with some authority that this is not a game to play if you or any of your friends are easily offended. Fortunately this did not apply to any of us. However we had to scrap all the cards that required two answers as Kerry was getting pissed off with most of us forgetting the start of the question before we got to the end. Her time will come!!!

Then we had a nice long chat about all the illnesses we have suffered from over the year. I learned more about the human anatomy that most GP’s that night. Then we moved onto the importance of having a will and how expensive a funeral can be. Finally we moved onto pensions which was depressing as we all thought we had an agreement with the Government that we would work our arses off from the age of 16 and give the Government lots of our income in order to get a wee bit back from the age of 60. However the government broke their side of the bargain by using our cash to pay for failed IT systems, bombs and Duck Ponds for MP’s. Hence we will all be working til we are around 145 years old. We were so depressed at that thought we had to have another gin before we sorted out all our rubbish for the recycling bins the next day.

Menopausal memory loss and no facebook in those days means we have only a hazy recollection of the 21st – but I think I can categorically state we did not discuss pensions or do any recycling….

Next day we decide to hit the spa. I have a slight problem in that I always assumed swimsuits fell into the same category as earrings, shoes and handbags i.e useable however fat you get. Well turns out that is not the case. It took some serious wrestling to get it over my hips and especially my belly – then it clung like a sausage skin about to split at any time. Fortunately there were lovely big baggy robes for us to enjoy. Didn’t stop me having four cakes, two scones and seven sandwiches with prosecco for high tea though (another change from the 21st – everyone scoffed everything – I have not changed but many of my pals now following diets to help their symptoms. Carb free… Vegan… Vegetarian. This means lots of extra for me who follows no such diet except for occasional 3 day fad ones.

We then had to head back to the lodge as a camomile tea and a disco nap is essential when attempting to party two nights in a row.

There seemed no point in taking our pajamas off after the disco nap so we all came together to sing karaoke and drink more gin. Disaster struck when we ran out of mixers!! However Pam had the great idea of using prosecco instead of tonic water. It was a great idea – rhubarb and ginger gin topped up with prosecco is very good. We then experimented with other ‘mixers’ such as pina colada vodka. Things got a little messy from there on in. Let’s just say a good night was had by all. And as we are all technologically inept there is not evidence on instagram, pininterest, snapchat, twitter or any of the other things that the yoof of today use. We did do a couple of photos for facebook which according to Kerry is just for old people but they were very much ‘before’ pictures as none of us could work the camera or video after a few.

Next morning it was off home – so we all had just half a cup of tea each so we wouldn’t have to do a toilet stop until we had been driving for at least an hour. We are nothing if not sensible. We then got all the bananas, grapes, vegetables that we had optimistically brought and watched go mushy over the weekend and took them to the recycling bins along with the 20 billion empty bottles and 60 billion empty cake crisps and dips and sweet wrappers

Happy Birthday 50 year olds everywhere! If it is true that things get better with age then we are all MAGNIFICENT!

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Warning

Pre menopause, my moods could be roughly categorised thus:

Happy for a reason – 50% of the time
Happy for no particular reason – 10% of the time
Grumpy for a reason – 20% of the time
Grumpy for no reason – 10% of the time
Tearful for a reason – 5% of the time
Tearful for no reason – 5% of the time

Things have changed somewhat:

Happy for a reason – 10% of the time
Happy for no particular reason – 5% of the time
Grumpy for a reason – 10% of the time
Grumpy for no reason – 50% of the time
Tearful for a reason – 1% of the time
Tearful for no reason – 24% of the time

And as I am still having periods, PMT also arrives every few week to join the menopausal party in my head.

This can lead to so many emotions in one day. One minute I am in tears watching an advert with a lonely man with no friends in it and reaching for my phone to donate my weeks salary to help him go to a wee club on a Tuesday afternoon. The next I can be as mad as hell about my partner putting the paper in the wrong recycling box.

The other day I the menopause and the PMT combination was at a height – I was happy in the morning. I was heading out in my lovely new car to do some shopping with some Christmas vouchers. All was well in the world and I sang along cheerily to the radio.

I then got to the multi storey car park which seems to have shrunk since I bought my bigger car. I started a bit of grumpiness – justified I think because the spaces are just too bastarding small.. Then I was completing a particularly complex parking manoeuvre and struggling somewhat. So I was getting even more grumpy. Again – I think quite justified.

Then I saw in the rear view mirror a ‘wide boy’ n the car behind –
gesticulating and, although I don’t do sign language, the movements of his mouth hinted at language that wasn’t particularly complimentary. So I get really really grumpy. And then I thought – fuck it – I am too old for some wee shit to try and intimidate me. I get out the car – with grumpiness now off the scale and approach his car. He rolls the window down and looks at me blankly but I detect a little fear which gives me great satisfaction.

“What. The. Fuck. Is. Your. Problem?” I roar.

He looks blankly at me again – and I start to get an inkling something isn’t quite as I assumed. Then a disembodied female voice fills the car ‘are you alright babe?’. Feck…. Feck….. Feck….

He was talking on his handsfree to his girlfriend. He wasn’t being a shit – just talking while he waited. ‘I’m sorry’ I say – ‘I thought you were shouting at me’. I start to feel very tearful.

‘I’ll call you back babe’ he says to his girlfriend. He then says – ‘are you ok? I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to upset you, I was just talking to my girlfriend’, He is gentle and kind and I suspect he works in mental health or something similar where he has gained a lot of practice in dealing calmly with unreasonable angry women. So then I was sobbing at his loveliness and thinking what a good job his parents have done.

After this debacle, I google paranoia as a symptom of the menopause. And yes – it is another sweet symptom. Apparently if I go for a walk it will help! I beg to feckin differ. I walk Sweet Dog for miles and it isn’t helping at all.

I have reflected a bit on the sudden rages and irritability that currently blight my life. Apparently it is all the fluctuating hormones that cause my rollercoaster of emotions. Dropping levels of estrogen are associated with low levels of serotonin (the ‘feel good’ hormone). Thought to be honest I can’t blame the menopause completely – since a very young age I have felt a desire to hit certain people over the head with a sharp object. But taking the positive from this – I now have nearly 50 years experience of not giving in to my impulses. The problem is that these impulses are now combined with the lack of fucks given at this time of life which makes me – well it makes me a piece of glass hidden in the sand ready to sting when you least expect it. And Helen Mirren hasn’t really helped by saying that if she could give her younger self some advice then she would tell her to tell others to fuck off more often. I like Helen Mirren and subconsciously I think I am taking on board her advice.

A couple of weeks ago I was on a bus – and some arse was drinking from his can of Tenants and singing some rude football chant and trying hard to engage his rather embarrassed girlfriend to join in.

Seeing my face, he slurred ‘giesasmiledoll’ (this is a language known in Glasgow as ‘Bampot’ – the English translation is: ‘Please can you cheer up and smile at me’)

So I did what most British people would do and stared at my phone as if some very important message had just come through and I must read it very very carefully.

He was not to be put off. ‘”Umahaffendinyamissus’ (again this is bampot language the translation is “Am I offending you?’)

Helen Mirren’s advice popped into my head and I tried to ignore it.

Suddenly I heard someone say ‘Aye you are offending me – so why don’t you take your tiny shrivelled dick and get off the fucking bus at the next stop and give us all some fucking peace’

It took a moment before I realised that it was actually me that had said that. The filter between my brain and my mouth seems to have developed a severe fault.

The bus took a collective gasp – then…. and only in Glasgow would this happen…. I got a wee round of applause.

I couldn’t help myself. ‘You’ I said, pointing at the girlfriend ‘can do better than THAT’ and pointed at the Arse (whose face was now slack in disbelief).

They got off at the next stop to a round of cheers from the bus.

I am not sure if it was good, bad or stupid… But it felt quite good.

I check google to see if Menopause is every used as a mitigating circumstance in a criminal court. It doesn’t appear so. So I have decided to start sorting these ever changing moods out.

My fanny magnet does seem to help … though clearly given evidence above it hasn’t completely stablised my emotions. I have had a look at the various supplements recommended but it is a bloody minefield. Some sites say there is not scientific evidence to back up their effectiveness. Others say they will make you as serene as Jane Seymour. There are also so many of them – magnesium, chromium, vitamin B12; vitamin B6; Black Cohosh and a million others. But will they help? They are so bloomin expensive. But maybe I will do some more research. I will pop into Holland and Barrett and have a wee look at what they have tomorrow. And then I am just going to pick one. Just one. For the moods.

I just checked google again – if you are suffering the same – you are in good company. 70% of menopausal woman describe irritability as the main emotional problem of the menopause.

Maybe as a tribute to the lovely poet Jenny Joseph who died last week we should all “make up for the sobriety of our youth” and give ourselves permission to do exactly as we please now and then (unless that involves being horrible lovely young man whose driving a red corsa and probably works in mental health – just be lovely to him if you see him).

PS – Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 is focussing on the menopause all this week – am just off to have a listen as lots of people have been recommending it to me

PPS – please make me feel better and post the worst things you have done when dealing with menopausal moods!

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Rest and Rant

(note – blog also on facebook where you can read peoples comments on it – http://www.facebook/menopausalwoman – the blog is called ‘isitjustme?’)

On Saturday I went to a Menopause Cafe (also known as a Rest and Rant – Restaurant…geddit?). They are currently running throughout the UK with the objective of ‘increasing awareness of the menopause cafe on those experiencing it, their friends, colleagues and family’.

I was a little apprehensive. My aunt has been pushing for me to go to a Menopause Commune where women rub oil into each others feet and exchange stories on their menopause journey. They then recite poetry and sing supportive songs while standing in a healing circle. They all bring presents for each other apparently that demonstrate their journey. She even offered to make me a fabric heart with a little tear that had been sewn back up to take along as my gift (she thought it might be the lack of a present that made me so reluctant!!! Had to beg to feckin differ and explain I would rather experience a 10 hour hot flush with urinary incontinence and heart palpitations than go to that kind of event).

My friend Tina the Turner (her name is actually just Tina but her moniker has come about due to her uncanny ability to convert straight women to lesbianism) said she wanted to come to. I was surprised tbh – didn’t really think it was her thing – but she explained that she was single again and thought it would be a good opportunity to ‘meet some lovely new women’.

I am not sure if the organiser would appreciate their event being used as a kind of face to face Tinder – but who are we to judge?

She is also looking at potential venues for her 50th and as the Menopause Cafe was being held at Dumfries House which is on her list of options she had two good reasons to go. Me – well they had me at ‘free biscuits and cake’.

We did discuss the possibility of it being utterly depressing with a few sad women eating those cakes that made of beetroot and avocado and so are not really cakes. We worried we would have nothing in common with them apart from more than a passing interest in Tena lady adverts. I also googled the background of the cafe – and found out that they are based on Death Cafe’s where people get together to talk about dying which didn’t really increase our enthusiasm. So we arranged a ‘get out’ plan of having to leave after an hour ‘to pick the kids up’. Then if it was crap we could disappear but if it was good we would pretend that a neighbour had offered to take them.

We needn’t have worried – it was brilliant. Not just the cakes (though they were good!!) but very well organised with a fabulous facilitator. She was unflappable even when the lift jammed and a ladder had to be dropped down and hot grumpy menopausal women had to be hauled out one at a time by a team of strong willing volunteers (not me obvs – one benefit of being a menopausal fatty is that no-one asks you to help with physical activities – Result!).

Tina was a bit raging as she hadn’t worn her hair extensions or make up or false nails as she felt she wouldn’t fit in if she was too glamorous. And it turned out that everyone was just like us – with their hair styled and nails done and everything!). We all had a good laugh though – discussing symptoms with the group – and what worked/didn’t work for us. We also found out that there is a 6 week course being run at the Centre. Tina became very interested when she heard Camilla Parker Bowles gynae comes up to do consultations during the 6 weeks. Camilla is her ultimate girl crush. We are not sure if this is just a rumour but the Centre was set up by Prince Charles – so who knows? In any case I doubt Camilla would be accompanying him – but I am not into bursting bubbles so didn’t say anything.

We were having such fun that we totally forgot about our ‘kids excuse’ so we looked a bit blank when the facilitator brought it up. On reflection it was a silly excuse as we don’t have kids and both suffer from menopausal brain fog. There were a few social workers there that looked a bit disapproving but I think we got away with it.

I would definitely recommend it – I got a lot from it and left feeling happy and uplifted. The cakes are really good too. And Tina is taking one of the ladies we met out for lunch on Tuesday so seems to have panned out alright for her too.

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Feeling Juicy

Four days ago I braved the scales – having put the post Christmas weigh in off as long as possible.

I had done the tit/tum test (where success is walking towards a wall and having your tits hit the wall before your tum does) and failed miserably.

I knew things had got really bad when I was watching a news item on obesity. You know the ones – always accompanied by video footage of shoulder to knee views of poor unsuspecting Fat Bastards going about their business, And I suddenly became filled with terror that that I was about to come into view – wandering down Sauchiehall Street eating a roll and sausage or a burger or something similar with the camera zooming in on my jelly belly and everyone watching saying ‘oh that looks like Jen.. wait a minute… that IS her’. That night I dreamed of post after post on my facebook saying ‘saw you on the news last night’ with a freeze frame of my jelly belly – then a ton of comments from Daily Mail readers slagging me off for single handedly bringing the NHS to its knees. I woke with palpitations and thanks to google can confirm this is most likely to be another menopausal symptom rather than a heart attack which I first thought.

So it was time to take action. I prepared for the scales in the usual way – no breakfast; trip to loo beforehand; gave a pint of blood the day before etc.

Deep breath – it would be small step for a skinny woman – but it is a giant leap for a fat menopausal woman.

Pause. Look down.

Oh

My

God!!!

Officially 50% fatter than I was 8 years ago. About 40% of that increase resting around my middle.

And it is 12 weeks til I attend a wedding. A wedding where a number of people won’t have seen me for eight years. I need to lose 70lbs by then. This is a challenge in itself – but will be made more challenging due to a large number of 50th Birthdays between now and then.

Now, Davina McCall spent her 50th with her friends – trekking about 600 miles with only a tiny slice of vegan cake half way to sustain them. I tentatively suggested similar activities to my almost 50 year old friends only to be met with great mirth and a reminder to pay my share of the five course tasting menus with cocktails/weekend away with full breakfast and three course dinner… and other such celebrations all equally unlikely to support ‘Project Lose 70’.

I will not be put off though. I will not give in to menopausal fatness. I will fight fight fight for the return of my body to its rightful shape.

But I am absolutely NOT going to another Fat Club – I tried to one a few months ago and I CANNOT listen to another skinny woman called Tracey who announces she cannot believe she has lost another 3lbs despite having 4 takeaways, a box of milk tray and a bottle of wine. Especially when I followed the ‘plan’ to the feckin letter and lost feck all!

So I decide to juice. Easy Peasy. Amanda Holden does it – she did an interview and it was accompanied my her photo in tight workout gear clutching her green drink and looking fab. And my menopause book says that increasing my intake of live, fresh fruits and vegetables will help my body ‘eat its way out of menopausal symptoms’. And the blurb says I can lose 5lbs in 7 days which the biggest motivator.

Got my juicer out the attic (I did it once about a year ago but it took bloody ages to clean it so I didn’t use it again – but I am more determined this time) and go to Tesco and buy an inordinate amount of fruit and veg.

And I actually did it – following it completely (apart from four freddo frogs, a marmalade sandwich and a packet of love hearts…. but I bet even Amanda Holden didn’t stick to it 100%).

Four day big weigh in this morning. And… I LOST 6LB! I dance around with Sweet Dog, much to her joy.

I am losing more than average… it suddenly strikes me that perhaps I don’t have a metabolism shot to pieces from the menopause but am actually just a greedy bastard….

Another 64lbs to go. Well 54lbs as I am going to get a fake tan before the wedding and everyone knows a tan knocks 10lbs off! Actually maybe 44lbs because careful dressing can knock another 10lbs off according to Trinnie and Susannah.

Project Lose 44 is now well under way… I’ll keep you posted.

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A Room of One’s Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”.
So said Virginia Woolf.

“A menopausal woman must have money and a room of her own”
So said Me.

In fact, at times I feel not just a room but perhaps a whole house or a nice sunny island. But that perhaps is a little unrealistic.

But a room – it’s a start.

This is a fairly standard night for me:

10pm Go to bed and fall asleep in six seconds flat due to being exhuasted

11pm Wake up to go to toilet. Return to listen to snoring from partner and despair of getting back to sleep

11.30pm Google ‘number of snorers killed by their partners’

12.00am Get up to go to loo again. Fall asleep again

1.30am Night time Hot Flush kicks in (coz obviously 3 a day are not sufficient) – kick covers off. Partner helpfully rolls up into the kicked off quilt in sleep

2.00am Hot flush passes – attempt to get quilt back. Mini argument over quilt and percentage coverage we both have of said quilt.

2.10am Google ‘menopause as a mitigating circumstance in murder of spouse’

2.15am Fall asleep

3.45am Wake up and worry about all or some of the following: getting old; lack of pension; nagging pains anywhere in body that might be a sign of a terrible illness; what might be the cause of the lump on Sweet Dogs leg. Then I wonder if I switched the oven off. Go downstairs to check. Its fine but Sweet Dog looks sad and lonely so worry more that lump in leg is terrible thing and give her a biscuit. Go back to bed and worry that Sweet Dog is sad and lonely. Wake partner to check if appointment with vet tomorrow or day after. Partner not as understanding as I would like about my forgetfulness. I offer to perform a frontal lobotomy (with a rusty knife) on them so there can be full understanding of what menopausal brain fog feels like. The offer is declined

5.30pm Check fitbit and worry about the lack of sleep it shows.

5.45am Fall into a marvellous deep sleep.

6.30am Alarm goes off for work

This had gone on for some time – so at the beginning of the New Year we decide it is time for both our sanity to sleep apart. I try very hard to match my partners disappointment while secretly (and joyously) planning the decor of MY new room and wondering how quickly the painter can come in and get it done for me.

The last time I decorated my very own room without having to consult with anyone was when I was 13 and very into Pierrot Clowns. So I got a pierrot carpet, a pierrot rug, a pierrot lamp, pierrot bedding, pierrot curtains, pierrot pictures, pierrot music box, pierrot mirror, pierrot dolls to sit on everything; pierrot stickers to round my window and much more – but you get the general picture. My parents were dubious but the agreement was this was it til I was 17 at least. At 13 I was not good at looking forward so I of course totally agreed, unable to visualise a time where I would not totally love pierrot clowns.

That time did come – approximately 8 months later – when I became a goth and my pierrot clown bedroom became a total embarrassment. I was stuck with my black hair, black eyeliner and black clothes listening to moody heartbreak songs from the Cure while all around me hundreds of clowns stared disapprovingly at me.

I have learnt from that – so I clear the spare room and have it painted in nice neutral shades. I spend a large amount of money on arty prints and hide the receipts so I can pretend I got them from the charity shop for 50p each. And then last night I ‘moved in’. I started in our shared bed and did the cuddly thing and had the ‘yes it’s for the best but so sad’ conversation. We talk about Steph and Dom in Gogglebox and various other couples who have separate rooms. Finally I judge I have spent enough time looking sad and it’s time to go to my very own bedroom.

I try not to skip as I go down the hall and go into my lovely quiet beautiful room. My night goes as follows:

11.00pm Climb into lovely clean bed
11.30pm Listen to Woman’s Hour on Catch Up on my Ipad while simultaneously doing ‘snow angels’ in my bed revelling in the space.
12.30am Go to toilet. Partner shouts – ‘I miss you’. ‘I miss you too’ I lie back.
1.30pm Fall fast asleep.
3.00am Wake with hot flush – simply roll to the cool side of the bed, choose one of my ‘menopause playlists’ from Spotify and wait for it to pass. Fall back into deep lovely sleep
5.00am Wake up and worry for a bit. Google divorce rates in couples who sleep apart. Worry a bit more.
6.00am Fall back asleep
6.30am Alarm goes off – hit snooze and do some more snow angels.

We have breakfast and look at our fitbits. I have slept about half an hour more than normal. My partner has slept an hour less and is mournful. But happy for me though because I told a bit of a white lie and said I got three hours more and feel amazing.

Because a room of one’s own is a wonderful thing and I ain’t giving it up.

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Galloping Catastrophes

I’ve been told I am a little negative about the menopause. So I have been trying to think of positive things about it. I’ve thought and thought and thought til my head hurts.

I thought about it when I was in a traffic jam this morning. But then noticed some black hairs on my chin and I had to get going with my tweezers. (I have tweezers in my car, in my handbags, in my make up bags – and next to every mirror in the house. I will not leave home without them. I will not be like Mrs Marwick at school who we all laughed at with her whiskers and wiry beard) Fluctuating hormones brought these lovely wee additions to my face about 9 months ago (said no-one ever!!). In bright light you will see them in menopausal womens faces – springing out of nowhere. But don’t under any circumstances point it out to them – trust me on that one! I mean, I’d rather know, but turns out my friend would rather have stayed ignorant when I mentioned her hairy whiskers in a genuine effort to be helpful. I would recommend simply buying a magnifying mirror for birthdays/christmases as an alternative to the direct approach. You never want to piss a menopausal woman off. Like ever!

I kept trying to think of positives – and really tried to focus in the queue for my morning coffee. But then I realised I had a pair of tweezers attached to my crotch. FFS. I had dropped them in the car when I saw a police car (the mobile phone legislation is pretty clear but the use of tweezers while in control of a car is less so and I wasn’t taking any risks). And my bloomin fanny magnet which attracts anything metal within 100 feet had decided to take them hostage.

Then I finally thought of a positive. We are so much luckier than our great great great grannies. In those days the menopause was known as the ‘gateway to death’. Not any more – we can often have a third, maybe even half our lives left when it is over. To be fair we will spend it fat, knackered, a bit bald, hairy faced and highly irritable. But it’s still better than the alternative.

It was Aristotle who first mentioned the menopause. And this was about 300BC. Maybe he should have spent as much time looking at this than he did teaching Alexander the Great and we may have been so much further forward in terms of treatment. But he couldn’t really be arsed so limited his work on the menopause to declaring it a time when women got ‘colder and drier’. Hmmm – Aristotle had clearly never lay in bed with a woman having a hot flush otherwise he would have been more likely to have declared something along the lines of ‘for christs sake – you are literally melting my feckin skin’ which is a regular declaration from my bed partner while rolling to the furthest end of the bed and dramatically fanning the covers for air. Sometimes I really do prefer my dog who doesn’t mind at all and clambers merrily onto my tummy when it happens – think she sees it as a massive hot water bed to have fun on.

But after Aristotle, no-one really bothered about the menopause much til the mid 1800’s. Possibly because not many women lived much past 40 for much of the intervening years. So if you did – it was probably like winning the lottery.

It was 1823 when a French physician coined the phrase ‘menopause’ meaning ceasing of the month. The first medications were not quite the plethora we have on offer now. In the 1800s cannabis was prescribed. This would have been a preferred option given some of the alternatives – douche of lead, morphine and chloroform anyone? What about testicular juice? Or the filtered juice of a guinea pigs ovaries. I may send these examples in to Ant and Dec for the food challenges in the next I’m a Celeb! Or what about a clitoridectomy (yes that is what you think it is) as recommended by influential surgeon Baker Brown. Or blood letting (some doctors felt it was because women no longer passing blood that triggered the symptoms – so if they took blood out regularly it would ‘fix’ them) Leeches were attached often to genitalia to assist with such treatment (in those days Doctors were nearly all men -I’ll say no more….)

In 1855 Lawson Tait, who was an influential physician, considered menopausal women to be in grave danger of mental derangement and incurable dementia. I can’t blame him – I thought the same when the symptoms started, and so did many people who know me. But his treatment which was simply to lock them up in asylums seems a little extreme. The guy also believed Jack the Ripper was a woman…so perhaps his theories should have been discounted then….

The Purity Movement Writers declared a bad experience of the menopause to be a sign of sin – and said that it showed the woman had been badly behaved when young. Yes- maybe – but I have some great memories to look back on during my sleepless nights – none of them involving working out at the gym with some tofu and sparkling water for dinner!

Moving on through the years it didn’t get much better. Menopause is now a popular topic particularly on Womens Hour (my fave radio programme). However when first mentioned on radio in 1948, there was a massive outcry – ‘lowering of broadcasting standards’ and ‘acutely embarrassing’ were two of the many complaints.

In 1966, Dr Robert Wilson declared us all ‘galloping catastrophes’. I am going to reclaim that phrase – I love the thought of being a ‘galloping catastrophe’ Better than being a galloping apostrophe which is what I thought it said when I first read it (after a couple of glasses of wine). ‘Move out of the way please, galloping catastrophe coming through’ Love it!!

The topic is no longer taboo – and we have much more information, support and choice of treatment than so many of our female ancestors. I think laughing at yourself and with others on some of the more ridiculous symptoms with a bottle or three of wine is something our grannies and probably our mothers would never have done. And were probably the worse for it.

So from one Galloping Catastrophe to all the other Galloping Catastrophe’s. Let’s celebrate the fact we have come a long long way and make our third act count!

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Menopausal Leave?

Back to work tomorrow! My plan for today was to pick out outfits for each day, iron them and choose matching shoes and accessories.

Before you think ‘what a saddo’ – the reason is that being menopausal over the Christmas holidays is one thing (lying in bed til noon with Netflix and a never ending supply of Baileys and After 8s then enjoying shopping and lunching with friends will ease even the worst menopausal symptoms). But being menopausal and having to work is quite another. And one of my resolutions is to get rid of the morning ‘before work’ stress and get each day off to as good a start as possible. I also went into work one day last year with odd shoes on so want to avoid that if I can.

I do think menopausal leave should be debated in parliament. There is maternity leave, carers leave, parental leave and god knows what kind of leave so why not menopausal leave? This would be done on a case by case basis – so all the feckers that declare they ‘sailed through’ their menopause and ‘barely noticed til it was over’ get no leave at all – it gets added to people like me who are finding it somewhat more of a challenge. And in fact those who do ‘sail through’ should be made to work twice as many hours and clean nightclub toilets at the weekends and maybe pick up dog poo for people out walking their dogs til the smug look drops from their bloody faces..

Anyway – I digress – back to New Year New Me! I was also going to start healthy eating today – with a breakfast of oats and fresh fruit and then later make up a delicious packed lunch for work with flax seeds, berries and nuts and many things that are recommended to assist you to cope with the menopause.

However, things did not really go to plan. I had maybe one or nine glasses of wine too many last night and many friends stayed over. So this morning I had to have two bacon rolls with quite a bit of butter and tomato sauce as it isn’t really fair to impose my healthy eating habits onto other people.

I then decided it would be just as well to open and finish off the last box of Thorntons as if they were in the house they would just cause temptation when I start ‘for real’ tomorrow.

I did try and pick outfits for work but this ended up in a lot of cursing and swearing as it would appear pretty much all my work clothes have shrunk while I have been off. A clamber into the attic then ensued to find my bag of ‘fattest ever clothes’ which also proved a tad tight and smelt a bit funny so had to wash all of them and stretch them while drying so I can go to work tomorrow in something other than my pajamas (which are still fitting great). I was always against elasticated waists in all but pajamas but my expanding girth is putting in repeated requests for such a feature.

I was then sweaty and thirsty and fed up up and the thought of wearing leggings and smocks til my arse and belly shrink a bit is a trifle depressing. So I’m afraid to admit that I have fallen at the first fence of ‘Dry January’ with a lovely bottle of white which is going down well with the left-over Doritos and cheese and chive dip from last night. The books say alcohol is not good for the menopause and maybe it isn’t but I can say with complete certainty that it helps you give less of a fuck about it.

One of my lovely friends who ‘found the menopause so liberating and a time of great energy’ told me that she found a sense of spirituality and connectedness as she went through her ‘journey’ (it’s not the bloody X factor I felt like saying but I didn’t as I can’t risk losing any more friends due to menopausal grumpiness). I have been a bit adrift over the last few months though – and wondering about things like mindfulness courses or maybe retraining to be a dog groomer or packing everything in to travel round Greece for a year or maybe setting up a social enterprise cafe. I have started a number of things that never ever get finished despite initial flushes of enthusiasm.

So I decided to listen to Pope Francis’ message to us all in an attempt to try and find some ‘meaning’ to my life and a direction for 2018.

Apparently we must banish the ‘banality of consumerism’. Really? It is clear the Pope has not yet been to the Joules or White Stuff sale this year or he may have reworded that part! (Paperchase is worth a look too – much better than last year). And he says we must also stop the ‘overpowering waves of empty chatter’. I for one beg to differ! I think we can guarantee the Pope did not consult with menopausal women on this message.- waves of empty chatter along with a bit of retail therapy is what keeps us (well me anyway) going. Maybe next year we could have an address from a Menopausal Woman. Maybe Helen Mirren would be up for it. I would happily write it.

I think I’ve just found my direction and purpose for 2018!! And right after I’ve finished my chocolates, wine and Doritos and watched all the Christmas Telly I missed on Catch up – I will get going on it.

Happy New Year to Everyone. Even those who ‘sailed through’ and ‘barely noticed’ their menopause – as I am feeling magnanimous due to the lovely wine!

xx

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