I’m not sure if I’m peri-menopausal yet. I’ve often wondered over recent years given the hot flushes, restless legs and night sweats. And my period’s visits have become as random and infrequent as Dr Legge’s visits to Albert Square.
However, there’s so much at play in our bodies (especially mine with thyroid issues, coming on and off the mini pill and a daily dose of anti-depressants to boot) it’s hard to know what’s what. And I get the feeling that when I do become peri-menopausal I’ll be well into the transition before I put two and two together (perhaps I am already there?)
This is exactly why I urge you not to wait until you desperately need a friend to talk to about the menopause before picking up this book.
It’s like an intervention. It can stop you needlessly panicking and wondering what’s normal, what’s not and help you take it all in your stride.
We don’t talk about the menopause that much if we’re honest. There’s still too much taboo around women’s bodies and I’m sure many people feel more comfortable describing a bad bout of food poisoning in detail than talking about either our monthly visitor or lack thereof. Aren’t we strange?
But once we hit the beginning of the ‘change’ we may well revert back to being a naïve little girl getting her first period and wondering what the hell is going on. That’s if we don’t talk about it.
I remember my mum telling me she thought she was dying when she got her first period, because nobody explained to her what was going to happen. There was far less period chatter back then. Luckily for me, I didn’t have that problem – my mum told me EVERYTHING. She was good like that. As much as I turned my nose up at period chat aged 10, given that my first one landed the night of the school disco aged 11 I’m glad she persevered.
Anyway, we should have the same approach with the menopause. Talk about it before we feel we need to. Prepare ourselves for it. Feel ready. Take control.
Luckily, we have Andrea McLean to help us do that in a modern women’s kind of way. Because frankly, there’s no way I’m heading back to the classroom and being forced to watch a 1970s film where kids in parkas are taken to a chemist by a matron in a uniform and shown how to use a sanitary towel with a belt (what was the point? We had stick on towels and Tampax in the 80s, we didn’t need to know about clunky belted pads).
Anyway, this isn’t anything like that. It’s refreshingly honest, as graphic as we need it to be and takes us through everything from hysterectomy, anxiety and restlessness to yoga, free weights and scrummy, wholesome food in 256 pages.
It’s certainly eye opening. But when all these strange sensations hit me (maybe they already are – who knows?) at least I won’t worry that I’m about to expire. I’ve read the book and it now sits proudly on my shelf, because I know I can use it as a reference point for any strange concerns or fears relating to my changing body I may have to confront.
I applaud Andrea for sharing such an intimate journey. But then again, as she points out, every single woman will go through it eventually. So isn’t it odd that it’s so taboo. That it seems to hold some strange power that can make us feel like less of a woman, when it’s something that the most experienced of women ALL go through. I’ll say it again, aren’t we strange with what we decide is socially acceptable to talk about?
Andrea is inspirational. Her career goes from strength to strength, she’s come out the other side of the hysterectomy stronger than ever and, let’s be honest, she looks bloody brilliant (she’ll even share a few secrets about hair and make up that’ll make you realise that even our Loose Women don’t wake up looking TV-ready!)
So I’d suggest having a read of this book as soon as you can get hold of a copy. You’ll feel far more empowered about the changes that are due to take place. It’s certainly not a time to stand still, but it’s a time to embrace who you are and everything you’ve learnt about yourself and life. Go Andrea! And go all women! Aren’t we such brilliantly fascinating creatures?!
Confessions of a Menopausal Woman is published by Bantam Press and available in all good book stores.
My book on mental health, anxiety and stigma, A Series of Unfortunate Stereotypes, is available to buy online.