It’s two in the morning and I’m awake, thinking about – deep breath – politics, Brexit, women’s rights, human rights, train fares, bus fares, that twat on Twitter, that twat on the train, global warming, summer showers, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson, conspiracy theories, David Icke, fast fashion, couture and the demise of Tudor Gammon Crisps.
In between, there’s a little voice in my head warning: “You’ve fucked up and you’re going to lose everything.”
Come the morning and the world’s problems fade away. Sadly, the little voice hangs around, muttering away throughout the day. My hands are shaking and there’s a lump in my throat from trying not to cry at the thought that I’m going to lose everything.
Colleagues ask if I’m okay and I reply I’m just tired. “Didn’t sleep well.” While it’s not the truth, it’s not exactly a lie.
What I should really say is: “I’m menopausal.”
Until this year, I’ve felt like the poster girl of the menopause, singing the praises of dwindling periods and the absence of PMT and body-wrenching pain. Okay, I didn’t like losing my hair, but a positive mindset was all that was needed.
However, Positive Mindset seems to have buggered off with Pollyanna because the last six months have been tough. Very tough.
If you look at menopausal symptoms on the NHS’s website, it will warn you about “difficulty sleeping” that “may make you feel tired and irritable during the day”. It also mentions “low mood” and anxiety.
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem adequate enough to describe the overwhelming sense of dread that the world is going to hell in a handcart – and it’s all your fault.
It certainly doesn’t describe the all-consuming anger that has you boiling over with rage against everyone and everything – when you’re not in tears, that is. Oh God, the tears. My bladder has always been too close to my tear ducts, but now it’s moved right in, bypassed floods and gone straight to tsunami.
And the NHS list certainly does not describe the paranoia and the voice in your head convincing you you’re going to lose everything. It’s got to the stage where I’m not sure what’s worse: worrying about the mistakes I have made or worrying about the mistakes I haven’t but my brain convinces me I have.
And that’s before we get to the hot flushes, night sweats, aches and…
… what was I talking about? Oh yes, the thingy, the… em… wotsit, you know, the… the memory loss.
For a while, now, Mr 50 Sense has suggested I go to the doctors for help – and the moods I’ve been in, that has been a very brave thing to suggest some days.
But I didn’t want to do that. It felt as if I was cheating. I mean, the menopause is natural, women have gone through it for millennium. I could get through it, too. And then there were the days when I felt okay. Better than okay, in fact. And what if I was just being a hypochondriac and everyone else felt this way and managed fine? Looking around me at women my age, they all looked amazing and in control. In comparison, I’d look in the mirror and feel every one of my years – old, flabby, tired, lethargic, unimportant, irrelevant and washed out.
Eventually, one miserable Sunday spent panicking over nothing again, Mr 50 Sense sat me down and pointed out that I would be the first – that I AM usually the first – to tell others to go to the doctor when they need help and that would be the advice I would give to someone else in my situation. It didn’t mean I was letting women down. It meant I was strong enough to ask for help.
So I went and the doctor was lovely and sent me away with leaflets and websites to study and to come back in a week’s time.
Now the thing about that is, it kinda relies on you feeling okay enough to make that appointment. And I wasn’t. At first I felt fine, so why did I need to go back? And then I felt down and wasn’t worthy enough to go back.
So two months went by while I hummed and hawad and read about HRT and wanted to “just try this first” and “wait one more week to see if I feel better”. Basically I ignored how bad I truly felt until last Tuesday, when I was in front of the doctor’s receptionist and had burst into tears because there were no appointments that day, only the drop-in centre.
“But that’s for emergencies and I’m not ill enough for that,” I wailed. “It’s just my stupid hormones. I’m not properly ill.”
“Sit yourself down because you’re not leaving here until you’ve seen the doctor,” she replied.
And that, dear reader, is how I ended up on HRT.
I’m one week in so its effects have still to start, but the relief when I left the doctors was immense. I’m aware of the health risks and that HRT doesn’t work for everyone (I told you, I did a lot of reading), but it feels that I’m not alone anymore.
Mariella Frostrup called the menopause a “shameful, guilty secret” and its incredible that in the 21st century, women still feel this way.
This, in an era when men will happily regale you with tales of their farts and latest bowel movements. (Thankfully I am spared the dick pics. Yay menopause.)
That’s why I’ve written this, scary as it is. Women should be discussing their natural bodily changes – and not in a Les Dawson mouth-the-embarrassing-words way – because if we don’t discuss it openly, we’re condemning the next generation of women to suffer, too. And I don’t want anyone to go through the last six months.
As a friend who experienced the same thing (and wrote about it here) told me last week: “The more we talk, the less isolated and depressed others will feel.”
So menopausal women, it’s time to talk.
If you are suffering, I found loads of help and advice on Menopause Matters, while you also can’t go wrong checking out the boards on Mumsnet. Yes, I recommended Mumsnet.
After many false starts, the Mumster knows what suits her skin – and a new discovery is helping make all the difference
If you’re one of those people who comment below articles about skincare saying how you merely wash your face with soap and water and have skin that people stop you in the street to ask about, then you carry on with what you are doing. For me, it’s your more-typical cleanse, tone and moisturise.
It’s been a case of trial and error finding what works, what doesn’t and what is simply a waste of time and money. Even when you think you’ve got it nailed your skin can change with hormones, ageing and the seasons. So this routine is what is currently working for me. It may not work for you, but it might give you some ideas and if you have any suggestions, please let us know in the comments below. Continue reading “How my skincare routine is becoming as easy as Pai”
Dear 50 Sense. Please help me – I think I’m having an affair… After testing the Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Palette, I’ve discovered a love of colour, but now I’ve met Urban Decay Naked Palette 3 and I feel torn…
Seriously, this is a lovely collection of nudes with two darker shades for definition in matte, shimmer and foil finishes that suit most skin colours. The range means you can create a variety of wearable looks for day and night.
Being honest, I’ve always been unsure of pinks. But the colours here really compliment my green eyes and pale skin. I have a bit of colour in my face now after the sunny weather and the shimmery pinks and golds really accentuate it.
I would definitely recommend this palette for make-up novices. The eyeshadows are creamy in texture and easy to apply and blend. I also got it at a bargainous price on eBay, making me love it even more!
These are two of the looks I’m currently wearing. One is achieved with the matte browns and bronze shimmer and the second with the nude mattes and then definition along the upper lash line with the dark grey and purple shades.
And I’m sorry, Anastasia, but I guess I’m a two-palette woman now.
MAY’S TOP MAKE-UP BUY
Their lip balms are well-known, but Burt’s Bees also have a range of lipsticks. Available in satin and gloss, they’re wonderfully moisturising and intense in colour. I bought Scarlet Soaked, a lovely red that has made my lips feel less dry after the winter. And at £9.99, I thought it really good value for money – cute packaging, too.
(Check out Burt’s Buzz, the documentary about Burt Shavitz who co-founded Burt’s Bees. It’s a lovely tribute to him – 50 Sense)
*All items bought so we’re under no obligation to anyone except the bank manager. No affiliate links and no filters used. What you see is what you get.
It’s wonderful to have warmer weather, but the heat can play havoc with your everyday look. Luckily, The Mumster has the answers…
I have a confession. Summer isn’t my favourite season. It always feels like every grey, rainy day is a disappointment while every nice, sunny day in spring or autumn is a bonus. I also find the heat difficult when it comes to applying make-up that stays put. However, in the spirit of embracing change, I am taking a more positive attitude to the rising temperatures and sunny days and have created a face that will stay put. Continue reading “How to summerproof your make-up”
It’s an important step in your skincare regime, says The Mumster, so take as much care removing your make-up as you do putting it on
I love wearing make-up, but there’s something almost meditative about the routine of taking it off at night. Which is just as well as my three-step routine has now expanded to six.
But it’s not about spending a fortune (although that is incredibly easy to do), rather more about finding a routine that works for you and your budget and lifestyle. Continue reading “Seven steps to cleansing heaven”
The Mumster has a girls’ weekend to look forward to, so it’s time to shed her winter body and spring into action
If my face is a temple then my body is most definitely a shed – it gets a clear-out once a year. Frankly, though, if I didn’t have to bother then I probably wouldn’t; but a girls’ weekend away and the thought of sandals motivated me to do a bit of housekeeping… Continue reading “Putting a spring in my step – and the rest of my body”