Archive, Menopausal Mutterings

I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger…


I have an ear-worm today. This song has been driving me mad since 5:30am. Thank you dawn chorus for the early wake-up call! I’ve sung it in my head, out loud while watering thirsty plants, and whistled (well my version of whistling) on my morning walk with the pup. I’ve driven myself round the twist with it. YouTube came to the rescue and played it all the way through. Hopefully this will silence the incessant worm.

The chorus prompted a train of thought, what would I tell my younger perimenopausal self to help her feel less anxious and afraid of all the changes. So here is my list in no particular order.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, Google your symptoms. This will return results showing you have days to live. Dr Google never went to medical school.
  • Embrace the change and go with the flow. The more you resist, the worse you will feel.
  • Speaking of flow, it is possible to flood through several layers of sanitary protection and ruin a car seat! You are not dying. You are not having a uterine haemorrhage. This is an early indicator that perimenopause is paying you a visit.  Cold water and table salt are good at cleaning up the mess.
  • Palpitations are horrible. You are not dying of a heart attack. Give a couple of coughs to settle them.
  • Muscle twitches are common at this time. You are not developing MS. Do some mindfulness meditation and try to relax.
  • Bruxism (jaw clenching/tooth grinding) can start at this time too. Who knows why. In your case, you’ve spent your adult life gritting your teeth. Those poor jaw muscles have clamped down on the nerves supplying one side of your face. You are not having a stroke.
  • See-sawing hormones can wreak havoc on your gut. As you’ve been prone to an irritable bowel all your life, it should be no surprise that perimenopause can make things worse. No you have not developed colon cancer. Drink more water, eat more fruits and veggies and buy a smoothie maker. Have fun creating your own recipes! Oh, and have that sigmoidoscopy for peace of mind. It is not nearly as awful as you think.
  • Your libido will take the occasional sabbatical. Be patient. It will come back again, and no, you are not a dried up old prune!
  • Head zaps are weird and disconcerting. The more tense and anxious you are, the worse they become.
  • Tinnitus is an odd one. How many of us knew this would be on the list of menopausal symptoms? Not me for sure. Again, relax more and do fun things. Having more fun seems to turn down the volume.
  • Anxiety for no tangible reason. Well, what can I say? With all the above going on simultaneously, is it any wonder you feel as if you are dying, losing your marbles, game over. Once again, relaxation is key. That and seeking professional help.
  • Admitting you need help is an act of courage. To accept help from a psychologist will be a big leap of faith for you. Jump with all your might. You will not regret it. It will be the beginning of a wonderful journey towards the person you will become.
  • Do not mourn the loss of youth and fertility. Rejoice in your second Spring, your wisdom years. Remember all those wonderful Terry Pratchett novels you love? Be a super-hybrid of Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat.
  • Learn to say “no”. It is liberating and quite entertaining to watch the expressions of surprise on the faces of those who always expect you to say “yes”.
  • Do not believe your mother when she says she did not know you were being bullied at school. She did know. This is called “Gas-lighting”. Look it up. And while we are on the subject of not believing your mother. Ignore her jibes about your weight. You are in the green zone in all BMI charts. What you have is an undiagnosed diastasis (abdominal wall separation). See a women’s core and pelvic floor specialist and watch your shape change.
  • Embrace your innate spirituality, cuddle your inner child, laugh, take risks, wear purple, and finally, relax and enjoy the ride.


N.B. My advice to anyone worried about signs and symptoms similar to my list, always talk to your doctor.

Wishing you all a Happy Friday


Inspiration in ennui.

This morning I am at a loose end to the point where even my tedious but necessary admin work is up to date. This is a dangerous state for me. I start pondering all sorts of things from the mundane (what to cook for dinner tonight) all the way to the downright weird. Today’s thought stream is more of a raging torrent when I have nothing in particular to focus on. Cue a session with the Headspace app. There’s nothing quite like a ten minute mindfulness meditation to calm the thoughts and give the mind space to just be.

Towards the end of the meditation, there is a short section where the mind is allowed to wander off and do its own thing. Mine decided to wander off in search of inspiration for a blog post, this blog post. I asked for inspiration and found it a few minutes later in my inbox. Just one email, but with an intriguing title – The Sending to Coventry Game
Reading the first few paragraphs reminded me so much of my own experience at secondary school. The girls in my form used a variety of attacks, from taunting me about my clothes (domineering mother sent me to school looking like I was still at primary school), name calling, kicking, punching or lobbing fireworks over the toilet stall, to pretending I didn’t exist, enlisting the entire class in their games.
Every morning I would be physically sick at the thought of another day at school. My mother and my teachers trotted out the same tired, useless advice every time I tried to get help. How is “just ignore them” or “put on a brave face” helpful to a person? Is it any wonder I lost faith and trust in the adults around me? All it did was teach me to grit my teeth and deny my own feelings. Whilst I did not suffer physical scarring, my self-confidence was quite a different story.
I have menopause to thank for finally kicking my butt into action. I had no idea that I literally gritted my teeth. After several trips to see a chiropractor to help relieve the pain in my jaw, she recommended I have an informal chat with one of the other healthcare professionals in the practice, a psychologist.
At first I was extremely sceptical. I didn’t believe the mind could be responsible for physical pain. Additionally, I felt that psychology was mostly airy-fairy stuff, lacking solid proof of efficacy. It is a measure how just how desperate I was, and how much I trusted my chiropractor, than I took her advice.
Before my first appointment my anxiety levels were at an all time high. What if she thinks I am losing my mind? I certainly felt like it. What if she can’t help? Will I have to lie on a couch and talk about my childhood?
The actual experience was slightly different. To answer my own questions, no she did not think I was losing my mind. I was going through the menopause and it was prompting me to address my past traumas. Yes she could help. She did not have the ubiquitous couch in the consulting room. Instead she had very comfortable armchairs, flowers, and a box of tissues. And the childhood? Yes, she expected me to talk about this at great length.
For the first time in my life, I had permission to talk about all my feelings. I was allowed to be angry, sad, happy. I was actively encouraged to feel my own feelings without judgement. I have to say I was terrified of feeling sad and letting my tears flow. What if they never stopped? What if I howled like a baby waiting to be soothed? What if, in my anger, I let rip with some choice swear words? What if, after all the years of bottling my feelings and disconnecting from my emotions, what if I just couldn’t do it?
With Dr Siskin’s gentle help I found the keystone and pulled. Down came the wall. Over the next few months everything came out during my weekly sessions. Gradually I began to feel better in myself, less anxious and afraid of the changes in my body.
With my mind more open to psychological help I was able to work out why my jaw was so sore… I had gritted my teeth in order to bite back my feelings as opinions and to keep my face neutral. Menopause was demanding a change. Part of my therapy involved freeing my voice, letting my feelings show and honouring my emotions.
I found this relatively easy to practice with my husband and children but not so much with my mother. Along with the bullies, she is the reason I buried my feelings in the first place. She brooks no opposition to anything. Her way or the highway. Well I had a new option, agree to differ and trust my intuition to guide me.
So where am I today. My therapy is at an end by mutual agreement. I felt I no longer needed the weekly sessions and Dr Siskin agreed. I no longer look for approval from my mother. I will never get it and I don’t need it. Much to my kids and hubby’s amazement (and occasional irritation) I have found my voice. I sing when I feel like it, a true hairbrush diva, and I try to make time just for me every day, even if it’s only ten minutes.
So here I am, at a certain age, not caring a jot about what anyone thinks of me. I probably don’t want to know and it’s none of my business anyway.