I’ve started to worry about a lot of things lately. Even worse, I’m waking up in a panic at night without fully knowing why. But I found out that Google does:
“The hormones oestrogen and progesterone work together to regulate mood. The declining levels of these hormones during the menopause mean that a woman at this stage of life is more susceptible to anxiety and other menopausal symptoms.”
It’s the M word again. Everything I go to the doctor about these days seems to turn out to be because of it.
Feeling a weird skipping in your chest so you’ve downloaded an app to get a smartphone-captured ECG that’s definite evidence of your impending death? Calm yourself, it’s just the M word.
Waking up with both cheeks burning, finding out your face is red too, and then wondering how on earth you managed to embarrass yourself so badly while you were asleep? Hot flashes, caused by the M word.
Experiencing a sudden, unexpected sense of impending doom, even though you threw your weighing scales in the dustbin some time last year? The M word.
Forgot the name of your neighbour? Heather, you live away out in the Scottish hills and miles from anybody – it’s called a sheep. Brain fog is a common symptom of, oh, what was that thing called?
I’ve been lucky to have been quite a cheery soul for most of my life to date, yet now stress has begun to affect everything, from my ability to concentrate on my writing to how well I can (or can’t) hold in a pee. My heart’s in my mouth every time someone makes me do star jumps. Or it could be my right boob. Billy Connolly did an hilarious stand-up about incontinence knickers back in the eighties, and even though I now live this thing, it never fails to amuse me. I still laugh, but not as hard – and my reasons are two-fold.
There are things that keep me awake at night now, like worrying about whether Kenny Loggins is having any trouble getting into his computer. And, if I do the GAPS diet will my teeth fall out? How do you get hands-free earphones in your ears? Did Cameo ever find out what the word up was? But however daft, random or unreasonable the angst, my heart’s always hammering like my daughter’s due in from school and I haven’t finished my family-sized Dairy Milk chocolate bar yet. And every time I experience chest pain I start thinking about getting a funeral plan. Then, after I’ve burped, I tell myself it’s about time the kids paid for something. What is sadder still, I’m no longer empowered reading Eleanor Roosevelt quotes like, ‘Do one thing everyday that scares you’, because now I’m scared I might accidentally do two.
I have to say, because it would be depressing not too mention it, that it isn’t all doom and gloom as I reach what I can only hope will be the middle of my life. Age has brought with it some new-found joys. Like not caring what people think of me as I share the fact that I really do wet myself laughing and I no longer want or need to fight anybody who accuses me of being a less than capable mother. I’ve worked hard all my life, raised five kids on a shoestring without any of them falling off and none of them ever resorted to calling Childline; they all knew I never paid the phone bill. Now all but one have left and they haven’t raced back home because they weren’t taught to cope independently out in the real world. At least, I don’t think so. I might have to put the batteries back in the doorbell to let you know for next time. And now I’ve blinked and I’m a grandmother of two.
Then there’s the relationship high that came with my advancing years. The fact that after a series of false starts and highly unsuitable partnerships, I’ve finally met the love of my life and we’ve been together for ten years this week. It’s Bunnahabhain scotch to be honest, but my husband Stephen is coming in a close second as well.
After being on earth for forty-seven years I’ve collected some knowledge: I now know six answers during episodes of Mastermind, and not just when the contestant’s chosen specialist subject is puddings.
I’ve become closer to my sisters than ever before, a necessary transition, as we now have a firm pact in place to race cross-country to give the other’s chin a shave if one of us ever ends up in a coma in hospital.
But it’s all part of the circle of life; a new phase to keep us all guessing. Youth is, as they say, wasted on the young. Or is it that the young are wasted and the rest of us are running around looking for our youth? Anyway, I’m off to try some of that HR tea they’re all talking about. It’s got to be better than that green stuff.