Let’s talk about the menopause!

NB: fellas do NOT look away now unless you have no mother, sister, hetero partner, daughter, female friends or work colleagues, or in fact, ANY cause to interact with women at any time…in which case you’re probs a Benedictine Monk, in which case, yes of COURSE Jesus arrived in a puff of angel-smoke…don’t worry…

I am a bit menopausey at the mo. I’ve had some tests and whilst I’m not yet full-on egg-shrivelling, hot-flushing, I am now in what they call the perimenopause.

Definitions of peri:

  • ‘A supernatural being in Persian folklore descended from fallen angels and excluded from paradise until penance is accomplished.’ I am not this kind of peri. Though I await entry to paradise with a certain expectation as my parents weren’t exactly angels and I am doing loads of penance all the time, e.g. not always moving on to the second bottle and not always filing for divorce.
  • ‘A beautiful and graceful girl.’ I have never been this kind of peri. This kind of peri sounds like someone I would find annoying.
  • ‘A popular marinade sauce for chicken.’ I am not nearly as edible as this kind of peri.
  • ‘Around, about or near.’ I am THIS kind of peri. I am around the corner from being proper menopausey, about to be proper menopausey, near to being proper menopausey.

And how am I dealing with this natural transition? With about as much dignity as Trump at a press conference. Think Vivienne Westwood meets Pat Butcher with a smidge of Lynn Barber thrown in; i.e. wearing inappropriate/alarming clothing with too much make-up and overly-bleached hair whilst drinking/smoking/writing/bitching my way into the proverbial ‘good night.’

Today in the salon for banal conversation and bad coffee, I was informed that if I continue to bleach my hair in this preposterous fashion, I will go bald. The stylist’s advice was to go grey. Grey is ‘in,’ she said, grey is cool. Well I know my hair fads, thank you very much. I know grey is cool. But not if you have, or could potentially have, actual grey hair – perigrey? – in which case you will just look like you have…erm…grey hair.

Forgive me while I refuse to look older.

I am not anti-ageing. You cannot be against getting old, like being against racism. You cannot fight a battle against age on political or moral grounds. It will win in the end and I am mostly thrilled and baffled to still be plodding along on this planet at my age. But it seems to me that pleasure in ageing is reserved for those who have ‘lived well.’

Today’s example of someone I can feel grotesquely jealous of because they are amazingly successful while I am not, is Caryn Franklin, her from The Clothes Show (readers under fortyish -wot are you doing here? – google it). She recently wrote a thing for Refinery29 about the menopause. In the pic, Franklin is all cheek-bones and lush, long grey hair. In the article, Franklin is all ‘listen to your body’ and ‘systematic kinesiology’ and ‘bespokey hormone remedy’.

After years of ‘multi-tasking with executive efficiency’ as a journalist and broadcaster working in the fashion industry while ‘raising a family, running a business and campaigning for a variety of women’s issues in my daily practice’ (phew), Franklin found the menopause gave her a ‘mind-blowing mid-life recalibration – one with a valuable message of growth and expansion.’ (I think we can assume she’s not promoting the ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs and loads of cake…sadly). For her, it was time to slow down and let go of her expectations.

Which sounds LOVELY. And is EXACTLY what I would love to be doing as I am permanently exhausted. Except I haven’t spent thirty years multi-tasking with executive efficiency. I’ve spent thirty years in the pursuit, not of a successful career, but simply of a reasonable state of sanity. My twenties and thirties were almost entirely devoid of measurable achievements aside from getting up some days, leaving the house occasionally and trying not to fall off the planet.

I am simply not ready to surrender to an older me. Now I am well(ish) I have years to make up for and every wrinkle, every menopausal symptom is a alarm bell screaming at me to GET ON WITH IT NOW BEFORE YOU DIE YOU CRAZY BITCH.

So, if it’s ok, I plan to remain in a state of semi-sad, mid-life resistance for as long as I possibly can.

Let us not go gently into that good night. Let us get our roots done instead; get our OTT earrings on and our multi-coloured too-tight tops. Let us eat cake and drink too much wine; get tattoos and piercings and anything else to defy time. Let us speak up and speak out and stay angry and bitchy; we’re not all of us done yet, not even nearly…*

*Yes, that rhymes a bit. Am about to re-launch myself as the Perimenopausey Rapper…