Most mornings I listen to a brief overview of a book through an app called Blinkish. Sometimes they're great and super informative, sometimes they're boring and sometimes I end up feeling a little cross with the content. It's a great way to take me out of the realm of my own echo chamber and learn a thing that I don't actively take an interest in. This morning though, I got a bit cross with what I was listening to.
The content was of the harmful type that perpetuates the idea of false positivity. That we somehow live trapped inside a Matrix type invention that forces us to live lives that make us feel bad and that what we should do about is WAKE UP! Become more positive all of a sudden and realise what is going on around us.
It carried on to tell me that what I should do is take on healing all the negativity suffered by my ancestors so that I and my descendants can live a positive life. I felt heavy and loaded with responsibility just listening to it. what a ridiculous weight to try and shoulder!
When people are in a bad place mentally, emotionally or spiritually this kind of content is dangerous. It seems on the face of it to offer a solution to our problems. What it actually does is help you sink tower and keeps you dependant on working harder to dispel something that doesn't exist.
Let's try and see it a little differently shall we?
First of all, yes we are all connected. Not just to each other but to everything smaller than us and everything larger than us. That's a scientific fact. what we're not is a part of some evil construct that is keeping us down. We're all a part of the cycle of life and what we're experiencing right now is a literal death of ideas, beliefs and aspects of life that no longer suit us. Yes it hurts, yes it's horrible to live through but it is an inevitable part of the cycle of life. It's not your fault for not being "woke" enough or not doing your part somehow.
Being forever positive won't fix it. If anything it's likely to make it worse because simply put-being positive like that is toxic, no good for us and really not how life really works. What we need to remember here it that like all things, this is temporary and eventually it will shift again in the other direction. We need the negative, horrid stuff or we don't 6am lessons that we need to grow and evolve. So long as we do whatever is needed during hard times such as dealing with issues instead of ignoring them, helping others that need a hand and being open to changing our minds then that's good enough.
As for healing the issues of our ancestors, well that's what we are doing collectively as those ideas and beliefs I mentioned earlier get broken down and replaced by new more relevant to mow ideas and beliefs. That's a collective responsibility that will help us as a society to move forward and do better now we know better. Take part in that by doing that just for yourself sure but do not work under the impression that healing the issues of your whole bloodline is what you need to do. First of all that would take more time than you have here on Earth and second of all, all any of us can and should be responsible for is our own actions and behaviours.
For me, this is what my Pagan path is about-learning to walk this-Earth carrying the load of the things that mean something to me while making sure I take responsibility and learn from my mistakes when I make them. It helps me to accept this cycle of life and move with it rather than fighting against it.
I had just turned forty when I hit perimenopause and I wish I had been able to read an article like the one I am writing today. Because if I have learned one thing, it is not to underestimate just what a massive change in a person’s* life the menopause is.
Officially ‘perimenopause’ is the run up to full menopause when periods stop. An individual then becomes ‘post menopausal’ after 12 months without having a period.
Unofficially perimenopause is the gateway to a whole new hormonal hell which affects every single part of your body and mind and changes who you are and who you think you are beyond all recognition.
I’m going to work my way down from head to toe and discuss the impacts I have personally noticed (so far) on each aspect of the body.
The mind is massively affected by perimenopause. The first thing I noticed was ‘THE RAGE,’ a massive flood of anger washing over me and making me not just furiously but recklessly angry. Unfortunately for me one of my waves of anger hit during a busy meeting hall which resulted in me throwing a rock across the room in a sudden fit of temper. There’s no rationality to the anger, the weirdest things suddenly make you insane with rage. And then it disappears as quickly as it came.
Then there was the anxiety. I am one of the least anxious people I know but I’d get these crippling short lived bursts of anxiety. Never about anything important or anything I should be worried about but bizarre and random things like I couldn’t remember where I’d left my hair brush. But it would feel like a matter of life and death leading to pain in my chest, constriction in my throat and a total sense of dread all over my body. Then it would bugger off again and I’d be back to my laid back self.
I pre-empted the phobias associated with perimenopause as my mother had suffered terribly with this so I had a good heads up. So for weeks I’d watch videos with my husband showing the subject of my fears while I gripped his hand tightly and watched, white with fear. For those who don’t know the link between perimenopause and fear the only advice I can give is to get desensitised to whatever you are frightened of pretty damn fast. Because those fears will come for you. And they will come at night when your sheets are drenched with the sweat of your terror and you lie there, literally paralysed with fear, until the dawn.
The weirdest thing for me was the forgetfulness. In particular I seemed to forget nouns. I’d ask my husband to go to the shops and buy ‘one of those things that light up and shine a beam so I can walk safely round fields at night’. And he’d be like: ”You mean a torch, you mad woman?”
My mouth became dry and I can never leave home without breath mints now. Apparently menopause dries you out all over. My gums became sore and painful because as your mouth dries out your gums start to recede, leading to bleeding during brushing. (Good quality medical mouthwash sorts this one out).
Oh and while we’re in the head part of the body, your jowls drop and no amount of facial exercise gets them back up again. Get ready to look droopy.
My hair got very dry too. But beware of using products for dry hair as it then decides to go very greasy. You will find yourself looking at wigs in shop windows and wondering if they are the answer. And they probably would be if it wasn’t for the fact that you get so hot the thought of restricting any of that heat from escaping via the top of your head is torture. Ever wondered why so many older ladies have short hair? They’ve got the right idea. Chop it all off.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced a hot flush (hot flash) it’s hard to understand how they feel. Imagine becoming a furnace from the inside out as a wave of intolerable heat sweeps over your body from the inside. A bright red face and neck are the giveaway that will often help you identify a fellow sufferer of menopause.
And you sweat. Oh how you sweat. Every single pore of your body weeps with sweat. You turn into this sticky, clammy, drippy menopausal monster. And there is no amount of deodorant that can convince you that you smell pleasant enough for polite society.
Weight loss becomes impossible. Literally impossible. Gyms, diets, even starvation doesn’t shift those pounds during menopause. Forget it. If you aren’t fat you’re probably going to get fat. If you are fat, learn to love it. Those rolls are going nowhere for a few years. (And you change dress sizes several times a day with the bloating. So that skirt that fits in the morning is cutting your torso in half by late afternoon).
Breast pain is a menopause thing. They change a lot too. They go from big and bouncy to flat and droopy and back within the course of a day. And sometimes they just randomly hurt. Nipples get a bit dry and flaky. Apparently some women also get nipple leakage. Great.
You might think that periods get lighter as menopause approaches. Nope. No such luck. The whole menstrual cycle goes crazy. I had six months of fortnightly periods then a few weeks without a period. Then they just turn up when they feel like it. So you need to wear panty liners just in case. Though the panty liners are a good idea anyway because coughing, sneezing and laughing all start to lead to little ‘accidents’.
And it’s not just the front end that has little accidents. Flatulence becomes a problem too! If you’re not drawing enough attention to yourself with a face like a beetroot then you’ll herald your presence with (as Nursie would have it) great and fruitsome flappy woof-woofs.
Sex becomes a chore because it’s so damn painful due to the dryness. Cervical smears that used to just be uncomfortable are now downright excruciating. Doctors tell you to keep an eye ‘down there’ but that becomes tricky as most of us in perimenopause struggle to get an angle on down there. So you end up squatting over a mirror a lot and peering up your own foof in a mixture of confusion and worry that having got into the squat you sure as hell don’t know how you are going to get out of it.
Even my feet changed. I understand why old people wear slippers now. I use a foot spa and grind away with a pumice stone in a daily attempt to get rid of my cracked heels and reveal my soft pinkies. But the days of smooth feet, I fear, are gone for good.
So it is no bloody fun this menopause business. Not for me, not for you, not for anybody. But you’re best forewarned and the only good news is, it doesn’t last forever.
* Anyone who menstruates will go through menopause. There is even some evidence that cis men may go through a similar hormonal change. Whoever you are, whatever your gender, we appear to all be in this menopause business together.
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