The Everlasting Menopause ~ Is There An Upside?

If, like me, you have been dealing with the menopause for absolutely ages (as my memory has been melted by the hot flushes, I am having to guess that I am now entering my 5th year) you might be wondering whether this mid-life cloud has a silver lining. My initial answer would be, ‘does it bollox’ but let’s see.

I turned to my Personal Assistant, Google, and asked the question.

First up is Web MD and a cheerful obs-gyny doctor from Maine who suggests that,

“The truth is that women over 50 are just hitting their stride,” she writes in the introduction of her new book, The Secret Pleasures of Menopause. 

So secret that they are certainly hidden from me. She goes on to say,

“You can turn yourself on. You can rewire your brain and your body to feel more pleasure. The brain is the biggest sex organ in the body.”

Hmmmm.

I must say there are plenty of listings on Google for what can improve the menopause (yoga, exercise, nitric oxide, acupuncture, hops, and a neck-cooler to mention a few) but not so many for the upside. I do eventually find some joker who says this,

“Menopause is a gift, a lantern lighting the way to significant transformation in all areas of your life………. menopause is not the wicked witch. She does not drain women of any vital function nor turn them old, weak, crotchety, or unattractive with a wave of her wand”.

As youngsters (for whom their 50s is light years away) might say: ~ LOL

There is some information out there which I do agree with: Yes, it is natural. Yes, it (eventually) means no more periods and contraception. But is it a stage during which, as this cheerful woman suggest,

“…. the door opens to receive the wisdom of our lineage”?

That may be a step too far, even for the most optimistic of us. I’m not sure I even know what it means.

My only hope is that it is nearing the end. I can’t say my symptoms (brain atrophy, hot flushes, poor sleep are the highlights) have left me feeling particularly cheery.

hot flushes

Menopausal rant over ~ I feel a lot better already and I haven’t even got my neck-cooler out.

Annie Bee x

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Is the Over 50s Woman Invisible?

I was out walking one morning this week and I passed a series of small groups of young women (in their 30s I guess) running the same route. Some of them acknowledged me, but many didn’t. Why should they? They don’t know me, I was looking pretty uninteresting (bedraggled some might say), there was no reason to chat (although a Hello is always nice). It struck me that maybe I have become invisible. To begin with I was appalled at this notion, but over the past few days I have come to realise that maybe it is a relief. It got me thinking once again about the whole ageing conundrum.

I don’t think there is a fear of ageing per se, I think we are scared of bad health as we age, and then the sure-fire death which awaits us all.

“I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens” ~ Woody Allen

The ageing process is unstoppable. Trying to slow it down accounts for a very lucrative market though: all told it is worth an estimated £180 billion globally this year. That is a lot of creams, procedures, supplements and corsetry. Does any of it work? Well not if my neck is anything to go by. Much of the wording around these products is noticebaly negative: ‘anti-ageing’, ‘skin corrector’ and ‘time delay’ all found in the first 20 pages of a magazine I have to hand, all appealing to our deep-seated insecurities. Well, you can run ladies, but you cannot hide. Ageing is here to stay.

Nora Ephron, in her autobiographical book of short essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck, wrote

Oh the necks. There are chicken necks. There are turkey-gobbler necks. There are elephant necks. There are necks with wattles and necks with creases that are on the verge of becoming wattles. There are scrawny necks and fat necks, loose necks, crêpey necks, banded necks, wrinkled necks, stringy necks, flabby necks, mottled necks…..You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t have to if you had a neck.

If you are in your 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or beyond and are as fit as a flea, your mindset won’t be in a negative loop about poor health and death. Or I hope it isn’t. But sadly there is a tendency that we start to hear bad news about friends in our and their sixth decades; people we know have heart attacks, strokes and get the news they have cancer. It can be a gloomy old time.

On the other hand, I would argue it is not all bad by any stretch of the imagination. The women I know in their 50s are more self-aware than ever before. We are savvy, accepting, stylish and have adjusted to life’s limitations and are ready to enter the FAB (fifties and beyond) era with grace and well-positioned scarves to hide the wattle. There are plenty of challenges (elderly parents, teenage children, an empty nest, menopause, divorce, health issues – take your pick) but I know I am much more capable in my 50s of dealing with these than I was in previous decades. No sensible shoes just yet then.

“It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen” ~ Brigitte Bardot

There is certainly truth in the adage that we are as old as we feel. Ageing is a process whereby at various stages we want it to go very fast  – small children want to be older so they can stay up later; teenagers want to be older so they can go to the pub with friends or learn to drive a car; in your twenties you perhaps want to be older in order to increase your earning power, or fulfil your career ambitions. Then later on we want to slow it down or halt it all together – neither is possible of course. There are limitations imposed right through the various decades, but it is surely about accepting them and embracing the constant adjustments we all end up making throughout our lives which will give us the greatest happiness.

Portrait of an Old Woman by Graham Brindley

Portrait of an Old Woman by Graham Brindley

There are a few blogs I like which show that style is still available to the older woman and that it is worthwhile not giving in just yet:

 http://thatsnotmyage.blogspot.co.uk/

http://agirlsguidetoturning50.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.notdressedaslamb.com/

So no, we are not invisible. Is acceptance of our age and all it brings the answer? Or should we fight against it?

I am not sure. What do you think?

Breid Morris

Annie Bee x

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The Menopause Can Last HOW LONG?

The menopause is the gift that just keeps on giving. I do remember vast swathes of the 1970’s taken up by my Mum talking about how awful it was, but I was too young and selfish to care. How that smile has been wiped off my face. A friend of mine recently announced, at an otherwise very nice lunch, that her menopause had so far lasted 7 years. You could have stabbed the rest of us with our dinner forks and put us out of our misery right there. Seven years? How is that possible?

When mine first started I admit to finding the hot flushes quite interesting – how is it that my body is managing to do this spectacularly weird thing? By the way, on this side of the pond, we refer to them (hot flushes) in that slightly quiet, polite British manner; in the US they call them “hot flashes” which seems about right if, like me, when you are in the throes of one, you literally strip off layers of clothing without a thought for your whereabouts (the fruit and veg aisle at the supermarket, or – worse – driving along a motorway at speed). It didn’t take long for that initial wonderment to wear off. Here I am several years later, still lurching from interrupted sleep to stripping off in front of astonished strangers to asking the GP whether I have early onset dementia. My metabolism is slower than Titanic swerving round the iceberg, and I put on weight just at the mention of the word ‘menu’.

The list of symptoms women can suffer from is long and does not make happy reading. This is from the NHS website:

  • hot flushes and night sweats
  • loss of libido (sex drive)
  • vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
  • palpitations (heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable)
  • headaches
  • mood changes, such as depression, anxiety or tiredness
  • sleeping problems, such as insomnia
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Is that all? Any more you want to throw at us?

I can have no symptoms at all for several months, and I start to congratulate myself on getting to the end of the menopause in such a stylish and graceful manner. Next minute it’s back with a vengeance and I am shattered from lack of sleep and googling whether taking soy supplements could possibly help.

Most of the treatments on offer fall into two camps: firstly, taking medicines (one of which is  HRT) and secondly, ‘self-help’ which is essentially eating healthily and exercising. The third option is Suck It Up. I favour this but also occasionally enjoy a good moan about yet another reason why being a woman can be rather difficult. Is there an upside? Let me think …………

No

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Annie Bee x

https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/menopause/

seven-dwarves-menopause-funny-cartoon

Patricia Arquette – A True Romance

If you have never seen the 1993 film, “True Romance”  you are missing out. Patricia Arquette (in the news this week for winning Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn in “Boyhood”) plays Alabama Whitman, the archetypal hooker-with-a-heart. She wears great outfits, amazing sunnies, and looks good enough to eat. This week, I have loved seeing pics of Ms A at the Oscars, with her “Yes, I am Over 50” and “No, I Have Not Had Any Work Done” (take note, Melanie Griffith) vibe,  her slightly wonky teeth and her luscious white arms. Utterly beautiful, but somehow more normal looking than all the other beauties of the film world.

Alabama - True Romance patricia_arquette_0scars

I wanted to call one of my Baby Bees Alabama but was scuppered when I produced a boy. However, one of my chickens is called Alabama: a blonde, slightly plump, eccentric hen. Even with her wings clipped she manages to climb up onto the fence where she does some alarming, but funny cartoonish moves before I tempt her down with dried worms.

It is nice to see Ms Arquette looking even slightly like the rest of us middle-aged women rather than the stick-thin, cosmetically enhanced actresses strutting the red carpet. Have a listen to her Oscar acceptance speech too and catch Meryl Streep showing her support. Slightly bonkers, but good fun.

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Annie Bee x

https://uk.pinterest.com/buzzanniebee/women-over-50/