It was mortifying the first time I bled – a most unwelcome occurrence; something about it felt deathly - and those unthinkable sanitary pads … it was not a good time. Now, at the other end of that cycle, more unwelcome occurrences, and the feminist in me riles a little because – far out, why don’t people talk about menopause? I’ve been dropping the word into conversation as regularly as I can, if only to watch its ripples. My sight started to impair when I was 45 and that same feeling returned – of death. (Well, okay, I’ve had a death thing going on since my Dad died, but I can’t be alone in being this dramatic). It’s been a downhill ride…
Grey pubic hair
Jowels Oh Lord!
Nights awake and sweating – ugh, I guess these are “night sweats,” duh!
A few flushes – though my boss has given me plenty of reason to be fuming
Do people still want to have sex with me? … (no really, that’s not rhetoric)
Do I still want to have sex?!
Menopause brain, like “baby” brain, has been interesting too. “What is that word … when someone has finished their exams and left school?!” Plucking the right one from my brain can take hours rather than moments. But at least it does arrive … some time through my night sweat – “Graduate!” Tardy as it is, I am grateful. I also have fatigue, muscle pain, digestive problems, insomnia, prickly skin and I did have a quick wee in the middle of a boxing session recently. However, largely the symptoms are not constant and I should be grateful I don’t have the rest of the long list of potential symptoms - bloating, weight gain, breast pain, bad moods, headaches, burning tongue, electric shock sensation, tingling extremities – good grief, who knew?! But there are benefits. Not giving a fuck is surely one of them. Well, to be honest, that’s a little strong, though the meme, “Behold my field of fucks and you will see that it is barren,” was assuredly written by a perimenopausal woman! It’s not a malaise but rather a blanket “please keep your drama to yourself, I’m not interested,” with a certain self-satisfaction that my own days of drama have run their course, thank God! My superwoman, multi-tasking days seem also at an end – so music is out when I’m trying to concentrate. My doctor said that depression and anxiety are not symptoms of menopause. Bollocks. Or is it just me? I have developed the ability, that any good meditator will tell you is a virtue, of living life with two hats, being able to both revel in the joy of something while simultaneously acknowledging its impermanence – and the impermanence of everything is weighted as I get closer to death – oh, okay, death may still be 30 years away, but that’s not how I’m feeling. At times, that’s depressing. But hey, it is what it is. But it is, certainly, a time of life when things fall away and so you are forced to query, if you didn’t already rock into this world asking, “What’s it all about?” And that too, is ultimately a good thing. The point is, I guess, that normalising the symptoms of menopause – whichever rich tapestry you may have - goes a long way to making you feel like you’re not the odd one out.
With half the world’s population experiencing such symptoms, the only “odd” thing is that we don’t talk about it.