I am 47, and I’ve been to the doctor numerous times, only to be told that until my periods actually stop they will not test me to see if I am in, entering or anywhere near the Menopause.
What a horrible name that is, isn’t it? People speak it in hushed tones as though it is something to be feared, instead of saying “Oh yes, it’s THAT” and attacking it with every ounce of staying power and energy we have left! Okay, that may not be much energy and staying power, but the word itself ... Menopause ... is almost a taboo. How mad is that?
How wonderful if us gals felt we could speak more openly about it, share what helps us and basically bitch about it as much as we feel we need to. Hey, don’t knock it, a good bitching session can do you the power of good - whether it be ex-husbands, ex boyfriends or the Menopause ... just ten minutes a day of ranting time can empower like nothing else.
So anyway, here I am - single, childless. Moved back home when my Mum had breast cancer (she’s a survivor). Lost Dad last October after home-caring for him.
After a car accident in ‘93 I’ve never felt particular strong or healthy (Fibromyalgia and Arthritis) but I’ve always felt tough, able to take anything on and even if, by the end of the day I was ready to break down and cry, I have felt some measure of victory at having got through that day.
Now, well, I’m not too bothered if tomorrow doesn’t come.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal. I’m just, I don’t know, what would be the best word to use ... uncaring? Drifting day-to-day the best way I can. Although that makes it sound as though I don’t care about myself or anyone else and that’s not true, I guess I am blasé. Maybe that’s the word, a bit like a cork on the ocean, just making sure I keep bobbing along, whatever it takes, however difficult, but you don’t actually feel you are getting anywhere…
So, my list of symptoms: raging insomnia (it’s 9:25 am Tuesday morning and I haven’t been to sleep yet – a lot of that is to do with the good old period coming 4 days early and incredibly heavy too. As if it isn’t bad enough for it to descend when least expected, coming early and heavy just adds insult to injury don’t you think?) Never one to suffer headaches, I have halved the size of my Feverfew plant in the garden in a couple of months (a handful of leaves on a slice of buttered bread will cure even the worst migraine - try it!) And memory ... what memory?
At work the sales staff would come into the office and ask me to find so-and-so’s address and phone number and 9 times out of 10 I could reel it off there and then. Now? Well, when I mentioned it was Tuesday I actually had to stick the mouse over the bottom right hand corner of the computer screen to check what day it was. I sat in the car yesterday and for the life of me couldn’t remember what to do to clean the windscreen. I’ve only been driving 20 years!
And let’s not forget moods. I am a tough cookie, a “roll your sleeves up and get on with things” gal (I’m single-handedly hand-rearing four 7 day-old kittens at the moment. Rejected by their mother, I am syringe-feeding them at two hourly intervals. Doesn’t do much for the insomnia, I can tell you, but boy am I going through my “yet to reads” on Kindle.
So yes, moods. I go through each day praying no one upsets me because I could go for the throat, I truly could! Shopping day is a day to dread - all it takes is one berk to pull out in front of me and I’ve got the window down screaming. So not me. I used to be cool as a cucumber, now I’m fit to be tied. You can’t control it, either; if you’re not getting wound up for what happens to you, you are bursting into tears or getting angry on someone else’s behalf. What’s that all about - anger by proxy?
And yet you know it doesn’t make sense, not much does, these days, you tend to go to bed at night dissecting the day and sitting in judgment of your actions, thinking wow, I shouldn’t have done this, shouldn’t have said that, but there is no filter, nothing to give you a jab to say, “Hang on old thing, you’re about to go off the deep end, count to a million and have a bar of Dairy Milk” - that would imply reasoning and there is no reasoning or logic. It’s just a case of “Get through the day as best you can.”Every day ... every week ...
Then you go to the doctor ... and you get, as I said, “We wouldn’t do a test unless your periods have stopped.” So that means you are left to flounder, feeling like a stranger because you truly do not recognise yourself and you know the real you would cope far better in any circumstances. You feel numb, you feel mad, you feel upset, you feel flustered, you feel weak, you feel hot. The one thing you don’t feel is yourself.
Then you get some folks saying, “Oh, the Menopause, yeah, it’s natural, nothing to it.” And their words echo inside your head when you are changing your bedding and nightdress for the umpteenth time because everything is drenching, and when you feel helpless (and hopeless) you think well they are breezing through it so why can’t I?
I’m going to get Andrea’s book, although, according to my doctor I am nowhere near Menopause (as I wipe myself down for the 5th time tonight and push away all my thoughts of frustration because I’ve had so many of these symptoms for months now and really and truly don’t know where else to turn). I always believe that one person can empower and help another - what’s that saying - “We are each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.” So here’s to Andrea for writing this and being the lighthouse that folks like me are looking for. Lots of love to you all. Keep on keeping on. By hook or by crook we’ll get through this, but we just need reminding of that from time to time! Shine on ladies ... or glisten ... we do glistening very well don’t we!