All change: having myself a menopausal little Christmas
As if coping with surprising facial hair, hot flushes and mood swings wasn’t bad enough, then the festive season twinkles into view. It’s time to channel the rage
Oh holy fright: Pauline McLynn, in her festive onesie, prepares for the season that’s in it. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
‘Have yourself a furry little Christmas” is an idea that has recently been knocking about my addled head. There are two reasons for this – one is that I don’t much care for the festive season and the other is the menopause.
I have been going through the Change for a few years now, as is the wont of the women in my family (more specifically my mother, who blamed her menopause for everything for a good 20 years, surely a medical record), and Christmas seems to happen every year, whether I want it to or not. I am fed up being stalked by both, so this year I am fighting back.
I used to think that menopause as a title had a patriarchal derivation and therefore was yet another thing to blame men for, but it turns out that’s not the case. It seems it’s the Greeks we need to point at while tutting. Pausis is from the Greek, meaning cessation, and men, meaning month – an end to the monthlies, really, and that should be a cause for great cheer, as should Christmas, so I am applying that principle to my survival tactics. And in honour of those ancient Greeks I feel there should be high drama worthy of one of their old, wailing tragedies.
No one warns you of the full horrors of the Change. Yes, we will all have seen some poor woman have a hot flash – sadly not a drunken reveal of chesticles to loud whoops of enjoyment from an accompanying crowd, but rather a blotchy sufferer drenched by a sudden and cruel temperature rise and in need of a change of clothes. We are aware that such misfortune can befall a menopausist. So why did no one ever warn of hair sprouting from random and unwelcome parts? This is the furry part of my “merry” Christmas. I refer to the moustache that is trying to gain purchase on my upper lip. Too often during Movember I was congratulated for my charitable efforts.
Now that we are in December, everyone wants to know why I haven’t shaved the blasted thing off – er, I have! Incidentally, the rest of my hair, the stuff I want to grow thick and luxurious, is thinning at a chronic rate and I will never have to make the decision to have my more intimate bits waxed ever again. (Too much information? Well, someone’s got to say it.)
Smells like menopausal spirit
Being menopausal is a lot like being a teenager – spots, flaky skin, rashes, blushing, body odour, weight gain, mood swings, crippling embarrassment, sudden and utter rages. The difference is that teens usually have a parent or two to look after them and to blame for all of life’s iniquities (including never having asked to be born). We menopausists often no longer have parents to berate with such logic and argument, or if we do they are busy being retired and serene and full of “you made your bed now lie on it” (after changing your sheets, rank with night sweats).
While I’m on night times, why are dreams so vivid during the Change and so very, very mundane? I dreamed that I cleaned my house recently (a thing I would never dream of doing in real life) and I woke exhausted and bored out of my mind – to add to the insult of drenched sheets and an acne-ridden face.