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My Experience by Kerry-Jane Bunting

When you are younger nobody tells you what to expect as you grow older. It just kind of creeps up on you like a sneaky stalker when you're already feeling a little down and out – I'm talking about that colossal elephant in the room; the (peri)menopause.

It was never one of those subjects that was broached in my household when I was growing up, so I didn’t know what to expect. I just remember my mother being rather belligerent, volatile and moody for an extremely long period of time and telling me that at night she had sweats and her feet were hot (!) and when confronted about her irrational, and somewhat psychotic mood swings, said it wasn’t her fault it was her hormones. For me it didn’t make sense and certainly didn’t feel like a justification for being greeted rudely and then upon confronting said behaviour being told “You know where the door is if you don’t like it!” . That would be proceeded by weeks of silence and no contact until she had swallowed her pride and got over her strop to semi-apologise.

However no matter how much I neither liked or condoned her behaviour I tried to empathise, she refused to take HRT, so we had to ride it out and eventually she kind of returned to normal.

Fast forward 15 years and I am on the perimenopausal rollercoaster which feels a bit like a fast but slow-motion descent to the hell that is losing any and everything that makes me attractive. I feel like I have a neon sign posted above my head stating: past her sell by date! Coupled with the fact that I am single, it is quite a kick in the teeth.

I have periodic phases of feeling melancholic and anxious about looking old and feeling old and then scolding myself for being ungrateful and I tell myself that age is a gift afforded to the blessed, which I try and tell myself when experiencing electric shocks all over my body, random headaches, feeling exhausted, aching, trying to fight my way through the brain fog when I have to think twice about the simplest of things that makes me feel wholly inadequate and stupid.

The weight gain that makes me feel like the proverbial elephant in the room, night sweats and random hot flashes in the day that make me unbelievably irritable and the general sense of restlessness that comes and goes. Usually exhaustion wins, dry skin, sagging body parts and smelling weird, or maybe that is just me, but for someone that is a personal hygiene freak and equipped with the nose of a blood hound who can sniff out anything unpleasant within a ten mile radius, this only adds to my paranoia and general dislike for myself. Oh yes, I almost forgot the urine incontinence, for months I thought I was neurotic and couldn’t understand why I could smell wee on myself, then I realised I was leaking throughout the day like a 90 year old woman.

It takes balls (haha) to be a woman, we go through life with an expectation, sometimes self-imposed, to be facially and bodily beautiful, to be perfect, a ridiculous expectation that is rarely obtainable or sustainable, and the older you get the more you realise the sustainable part is a notion that is out there on planet Pluto.

Men get older and it’s a different kettle of fish, I wonder if the “mum-bod” will ever be a thing lusted after like the “dad-bod”? Who knows? Who cares? Can we stop the perimenopausal roller coaster? I want to get off.

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