Middle age madness

As my middle-aged female readers – and their partners – will be aware, menopause is a bitch. And, until recently, no one really warned you about it.

Menopause was a hush-hush, embarrassing life stage that you were meant to pretend wasn’t happening.

So I was excited to hear last week that Kaz Cooke is working on a menopause “bible”. Kaz is awesome, I found her pregnancy book Up The Duff very helpful and down to earth. I reckon her musings and advice on menopause will be a cracker, although they’ll be a little too late for me.

As Middle Age Madness noted on Facebook, “chatter” about menopause is on the increase. However, it’s mostly been by celebrities rather than “real” women who don’t have access to a personal trainer or heaps of money for treatments and tweaks.

Her verdict on menopause was on point for me: “I am a woman who got married, raised a family and worked hard. I come home at night, knackered, and do the housework and cook the dinner. I feel taken for granted, sometimes. And I am every woman who has seen her figure widen and her face wrinkle. Slowly, slowly age creeps in and takes over. And we don’t put up much of a fight. We are too busy being busy. Until menopause. Suddenly the shit hits the fan.”

She also nailed the mood swings: “Anger boils over and out of you like red hot lava spewing from a volcano. You are happy, you are depressed, you are laughing, you are in tears all in the space of five minutes. You adore your husband he is sweet and understanding. You hate your husband – why does he breathe so fucking loudly?”

And: “It appears that, despite your best efforts, once you hit 45 you are supposed to have a beard and a moustache, a foot long grey eyebrow hair and Brillo pad pubes. If I didn’t wax my chin I could audition for ZZ top. Everybody gets on your fucking nerves. You are so tired and yet wide-awake night after night listening to your brain whirling up an anxiety storm. It is frightening and awful and bewildering.”

I hear you Middle Aged Madness. I hear you.

I have no idea what stage of the menopause process I am at. My surgically razed womb means I don’t know whether my monthly cycle is finally over. But, over the past week or so, I’ve been having hot flushes again in the night. I wake for no particular reason, then a few moments later the heat suffuses my body … I’m sweaty despite it being effing freezing in my bedroom in mid-winter. At the moment the flushes are minor and I’m managing to get back to sleep afterwards, so I feel quite fortunate. But it’s a sign that my body is changing.

I would be lying if I said it doesn’t bother me. I loathe the extra hair and lines and saggy bits. But I’ve realised they are less noticeable when I laugh and smile. So I need to make sure I do lots of that.

Some middle aged women complain about becoming “invisible”, but I like slipping under the radar. All the people who matter still notice me, the ones who don’t see me are missing out. While women in their 50s might be slightly off-kilter due to the hormonal tidal wave they’re surfing, they’ve also realised that what other people think of them isn’t too important. And it’s set them free to be themselves.

They know that what’s important is being around people who lift them up rather than pull them down. And they’re living the best life they can, whatever the universe throws at them.

I love being around women my age because we’re on the same page and get what each other are going through. There’s camaraderie and support and laughter and empathy. They are my tribe and I couldn’t get through it without them.

Song of the day: David Bowie “Changes”

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