Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Oh, get a grip, willya?

Warning - this is a female post, about female problems.

The average age for menopause in the UK is apparently either 51 or 52 depending on who you read.  I am 48 1/2.  I've had an 'interesting' relationship with all things reproductive since the age of 12 when it all kicked off.  My cycles have varied in length wildly over the years.  I only managed to get pregnant 'normally' (although accidentally) once but it didn't stick.  And then, when I actually did want to get pregnant, I couldn't do it without medical intervention and they also didn't want to stick.  Hey ho.

A few years ago, my rather wonderful chiropractor/Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor that I've seen for 20 years suggested that I start using progesterone cream.  I think I'd probably told him that I was starting to get some mild hot flushes and my periods were getting painful, as painful as they'd been when I was in my 20s.  The cream has given me cycles as regular as clockwork, which is astonishing.  I can mark 26 days on my calendar now and know that Aunt Flo will arrive exactly within a 24 hour period.  I still get the odd hot flush but they've always been pretty mild, I'm certainly not getting dreadful night sweats or anything like that, for which I'm grateful as they sound awful.  So the cream has helped, but Aunt Flo is still visiting regularly, every month.  Some months a bit heavier than others, but she always arrives.  I wonder how long it will be before she stops because, frankly, I can't wait.

All this I have, of course, expected but the one symptom that has caught me out is the emotional one.  I'm not a cryer. Never have been.  I can vividly remember waaaay back when I was 11 or 12, maybe 13, deciding that only weak people cried, it was girly and pathetic and I was not going to do it.  Ever.  No-one would ever see me cry.  And I've stuck to that astonishingly well over the decades since.  I rarely feel the need to cry, I hardly ever get that emotionally upset and, if I do, then I'll do my crying in the shower or the bath where I can be left in peace and no-one can witness it.

I'm not really sure what this says about me.  I'm sure some psychiatrist will see me as being too in control of my emotions, and that it's a sign of me building a big protective wall around me.  I'm sure there's more than an element of truth in that.  You let people in emotionally, you usually get hurt, and that's painful.  This might explain why I have very few friends in real life - people I would call 'proper' friends, not just acquaintances - and only a handful of boyfriends over the years.  The less people you get really close to, the less likely they are to fuck you over.

The side effect of this is, of course, loneliness.  Which is a whole other post in itself and not what I wanted to talk about.

What I wanted to talk about was the unexpected emotional upheaval of the menopause.  Boy, has that ever caught me out.  I remember when I was going through my IVF cycles in the late 90s that, in each cycle, there was always at least one day when I would find myself utterly bereft and prostrate with sadness and grief.  I would dehydrate myself with crying.  The emotional pain was overwhelming and, needless to say, deeply unwelcome.  I can even remember being unable to go into work on one of these days because I literally could not control myself and stop sobbing.  It was dreadful.  The next day, though, I'd wake up, feel fine and think to myself 'what the fuck was that all about, then?'  When we stopped doing the IVFs, those weird emotional days stopped.

And now they're bloody back.  Over about the last year, in each month, I've had at least one day when I've felt unbearably sad, and have ended up going through half a box of tissues with crying so much.  I hate it.  And then it dawned on me that it was a symptom of the menopause.  I remembered those days during the IVFs and realised they came during the part of the cycle when the doctors put you into an artificial menopause.  So that was obviously what was going to happen to me when I hit menopause for real.  And it has come to pass.  And I wish it would carrying on passing and go by me completely.

This time round, though, it's not actually as bad as the IVF crying days but it's equally as unwelcome.  And my trigger is anything to do with animals.  I can watch any number of starving kids in Africa adverts and they do nothing, but the cruelty to animals ones?  Woah.  Also those videos where humans are reunited with lost pets, or animals they used to care for years ago (like the lion one - you know the one I mean - or the one I saw this morning which started this off, where a grown gorilla meets up again with the guy who looked after him when he was little and he remembers him and hugs him so hard he won't let him go and oh god, where are the tissues....?)

Jesus.  See what I mean.  I can't see the screen through the haze of tears. Bloody hell.  And don't get me started on what it's going to be like when we have to say goodbye to Sylvester, our cat and  my constant companion for the last 13 years or so.  See, I start to think about all this, my fingers and hands do this bizarre tingling thing, and the tears start pouring down my face in some sort of pre-emptive grief.  It's utterly, utterly ridiculous and I feel so foolish.  Plus I know I'll wake up tomorrow and will feel perfectly stable again and wonder what the hell that was all about.

Yes, as you might have guessed, today is one of 'those' days.  I need to find something distracting to do, rather than just sit here and wallow in my misery, and I will in a minute or so.  There's washing needs to be done but, more likely, a piano that also needs playing.  But I was wondering, does anyone know how long this will go on for?  Have any of my lovely readers (if I still have any) been through this and, if so, how did they cope?


Wendy said...

Oh wow! I can't give you the comfort of telling you when it will end, but at least I can tell you that you are not alone!
I am 47 and feel like I am going bonkers - rampaging hormones and all that.
Anyway, just to say, I feel your pain .....

OmegaMom said...


My problem with peri- and complete menopause is not the depression/sadness; I got that regularly for one day each cycle and it was hell. No more of those for me!

What I got in return was uncontrollable fly-of-the-handle rages, over...nothing in particular. If I am foolish enough to stop my happy pills, within two days, whammo blammo, I am Bitch Queen On Wheels. And it doesn't stop.

So. This isn't very helpful, is it? Because it hasn't ended.

Oh, yes, and my libido has not just dropped, it's gone down to the core of the earth, non-existent, completely.

And, alas, I do have the night sweats and hot flashes, but I have become totally used to them.

The good things: No more mess. No more cycles of ups and downs. No more gods-be-damned cramps. No more one day of suicidal ideation out of every 25. Emotionally, it is much, *much* more even keel, thank heavens. No more digestive problems right around my period.

I'd say I've been here for, oh, about six years. Things are slowly settling down to a new norm.

Maureen said...

Been there done that and yes it's terrible. But I have coped by taking a multivitimin made for the job called 'Confience' Holland and Barrett do it for a reasonable price especially the 90 day pack and I also take Vitimin E. I have been taking these for years now through and beyond the dreaded menopause. Still taking them both.
I was adamament I didn't want to go the HRT route. My sister took HRT for years and every time she tried to come off all the symptons returned and she had to endure it all again, so she only delayed it all really.

I hope you sort it out. I wish I could say it passes quickly and maybe for you it will, everyone is different, but I am proud to have beaten it on my own and except for an almost non existant libido (common unfortunately) things are pretty much OK now.

Good luck and give the confience a try. But if you need HRT and it's right for you there is no shame in having to give in to it.
M x