Scream If you Wanna Go Faster

In my last two blogs I talked about HRT and predominately what progesterone was doing to me, both physically and mentally. And I had intended to follow on from that with how I feel now. How? I feel great: my mental health has never been better and I am so gleeful and stable. And I love sharing with you that finally after 8 long years of anguish and affliction I am now OK. Earlier this year I was far from that, I was probably the worst I have ever been, feeling worthless and hollow. This was at the end of March beginning of April this year. Ian and I had just finished filming the TV show about love, intimacy and sex, we had finally finished the renovations on the flat and all was good. Except my brain. Now it is hard to understand anxiety and depression until you have it. And I do not want anyone to get this just so they can empathise with me and others, you’ll just have to trust me when I say it is real. You cannot just ‘Pull yourself together’.

My first hand experiences with anxiety and depression go back a long way, almost as long as I have been on the planet. You see my mum has suffered at the hands of anxiety and depression pretty much for as long as I can remember. Was it brought on by the Menopause? I have no idea. She would have been about  33 years old when I was born, which now is practically a teenager and the age some people have their first child. I was her fifth, the last one. And completely unwanted. I used to resent the fact that I knew I was the ‘unwanted one’. How dare she not want me. Back when I was less emotionally intelligent I used to cry and think that she didn’t ‘love me‘. I would pick up on every comment she made and allow my brain to go in to dark places about her love for me. All completely unwarranted and fictitious. She does love me, but she was 33, had 3 three kids over 10 years old, had just given birth to my brother David (also a surprise, money was tight and we were cramped into  a three bed council house). Here and now I understand why I was not wanted. I would not have wanted me. I have one child, that was enough, and he was unplanned. No, not unwanted as such. But I was sixteen when I got pregnant to my first ‘real ‘boyfriend. Sex education and open discussions clearly not resident in our house. Just as well there was no room.

Back to anxiety, depression, my mum and the cycle. I have no idea when my mum first suffered with anxiety, but I remember her being poorly and constantly angry when I was aged around 10/12 years old. She would have been about 43/45 years old then. I never understood it and just thought she was tired and of course angry at me for existing. The unwanted. I wonder now if she was going through menopause. When I ask her, she says she isn’t sure, can’t really remember and given the life she had at the time, feels lucky to have made it through those years. My poor mum had many troubles other than money; my eldest sister was a bad egg and as you may already know an alcoholic. My eldest brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia around this time too. I cannot imagine having to cope with those  stigmas attached to two of my children,  and suffering anxiety and depression.  Jesus, I go into a meltdown if I think I have said the wrong thing to someone.  Imagine going through menopause and carrying a burden around like that. Remember this was the 80’s, almost 40 years ago, there was no compassion for mental health and alcoholics back then. Our family were the talk of the town. And the town was small. I am not blaming anyone, even the people at school who used to bully me because of my brother. We were all basically ignorant.

Anyway, is anxiety heredity? The statistics say that if your parents suffer then there is a 40% chance you may suffer too. BUT and here is the BUT. I never suffered. My mum used to say she wished she could bottle up my confidence and sell it. She was always amazed how nothing fazed me. No, I don’t think I did inherit mine. It wasn’t my mum’s genes that brought me crashing down from my buoyant burrow of exulting ecstasy. It was another Lady. Lady M. Before Lady M entered my life MY head was stuck in the eighties, blissfully ignorant of just how impactful anxiety and depression is. I had no clue. Earlier this year I think I went through the worst stint of anxiety to date. It was awful. I have no idea why. Does anyone? My brain seemed to be spinning  around in my head. Anxiety is like your brain is in a waltzer; ‘scream if you wanna go faster, say nothing if you want it to stop’. The thoughts whirling around and around in your brain; every now and again: Stop. Then the thoughts disgorge out of the waltzer disorientated and dizzy. Intrusive and unwanted.  The thing about these intrusive thoughts are that often you unconsciously believe that you want these things to happen. I remember hurtling down the motorway and being convinced that I wanted to grab hold of the steering wheel and smash into the cars alongside us. I used to sit on my hands on the journey to work to stop myself pulling on the handbrake or grabbing the wheel. There were times that I would be in bed, get up and go the attic window and have an uncontrollable urge to throw myself out of the window: thoughts going round and round in my brain stuck inside the waltzer. I am screaming STOP, STOP, STOP. But Lady M is louder, and she is screaming she wants to go faster.

These times can become all consuming, especially if you try to figure out why you are thinking these awful thoughts. Don’t. If you suffer from anxiety it is common to have more darker thoughts than the next person, and more frequently. My advice is to let the thought come and go. Allow your brain to process it and be mindful that this is your anxiety not you. For those that have never suffered anxiety you may be thinking that this all sounds a bit suicidal. It is not. There are other examples of dark thoughts my brain has flung out. But I don’t allow my memory to conjure them back up. One spin around the fairground is more than enough thank you. And some are just too disturbing, Those of you still blissfully ignorant will may not understand this, that is fine. Those of you that do understand, I salute you. So that is where I was for a good few week, months earlier this year. I was consumed by anxiety. A walking nerve ending, like an exposed wire. Bare and ready to shock. I was screaming but the waltzer in my head was going faster and faster.

Another One Bites The Dust

After making sure that the nasty progesterone had gone in the bin and bitten the dust, I eagerly awaited my consultation with the Gynaecologist Katherine. It was to be a call due to Covid and then we could go from there. Look at some options and explore. To say I was excited would be an understatement, an advent calendar filled with supplements replacing chocolate was created. I opened each day’s window and popped my pills with the anticipation of a six year old waiting for Santa to bring their Nintendo. Now as you know I had binned those nasty progesterone pills in excitement of the meeting with the Gyno. I
don’t know what I thought she would offer me or what to expect from my telephone consultation but as per usual and true to form I was armed with a list of questions, queries and concerns. Remember I had waited for years to get referred to this menopause clinic, I had heard such rave reviews about it and finally my day was here.

However, the day before my period decided to arrive and with it the onslaught of anxiety, panic, and worry. But I put my positive pants on and prepped myself for the meet. I have never been on a blind date, but I am guessing that the emotion and the thoughts that go through your head are similar. “Do not talk too much Mollie, don’t be negative, be open and honest but don’t scare her off”. I was ready to impress. I cried. All the way through our meeting/consultation/date. I cried. The minute Katherine started to ask me questions a flood of panic and anxiety surged though me, a tidal wave of emotions crashed over my soul. Kathrine said that she understood. I apologised for being upset confessing my anxiety like a catholic. Was Katherine my priest? Going to set my penance or set me free? Once I calmed down, we talked about my symptoms, we talked about what had been going on since I had started with the last bout of HRT. I confessed that I had researched, dis-agreed with my GP on the dosage and frequency she had me on. And that I had broken the golden rule and Googled and read medical papers on said drugs. I was on that consultation call for 15 minutes all told. Now remember that the first rule about fight club is we never talk about fight club. I had waited to get into this exclusive menopause clinic club for years. I had spent my time on the waiting list, been patient and a patient. I’d read all of the rave reviews on various Facebook groups, patiently tapping my fingers whilst my application was pending, and finally I was in. What can I tell you? Well. I wanted a refund. Exclusive as this club was, there were no smorgasbord of suggestions, it was simple and yet not effective. I was given three options to mull over, stay as you are, try a reduced version of what you’re doing or go back to your supplements. Disappointed isn’t the word to describe how I felt. I was overcome with yet even more grief. You could potentially have a hysterectomy but first you’d have to try another round of HRT. A new type I asked? ‘”No” was the answer I got. The HRT available to me was all the types I had tried before. The ones that made me even more anxious, have panic attacks and made me gain weight? “Yes” replied Katherine. Great. So back to where I was at before fight club. I was losing my own fight with menopause, with life by this point. After more crying and me saying that the thought of putting more progesterone into my body, which I knew was the cause for these intensified symptoms, made me cry again. A world record for me. 15 minutes on a call with a professional I had cried for 12 of them. We ended the call with booking another meeting for three weeks’ time.

I would go away and talk to Ian. Weigh up the pros and cons of the advice I was being given, then talk again in three weeks. Hobson’s choice didn’t have a patch on this. We booked a meeting in for three weeks later. Three weeks to decide did I – A. Want to carry on pumping my blood with something that made me feel like I was useless, worthless, anxious and fat.
B. Try a reduced form of this HRT that would potentially make me feel a little less useless, worthless, anxious and fat. C. Go back to where I was at before feeling useless, worthless, anxious and fat. But with a nice Spanish fan as a fashion accessory for the constant hot flushes. I mean maybe there is a gap in the market. Feeling fat ? Feeling anxious? Feeling worthless No worries you can feel all of those of those things whilst resembling a flamenco dancer!!

The only positive to my latest experience with HRT was that the hot flashes did go. But weighing up the pros and cons. There were more cons than, well Holloway Prison. I was devastated, waited years to get into fight club only to be knocked out in the first round. Floored. It was like Dr Feel Good was the referee and Katherine my opponent. I was never going to win. I had to do something, I couldn’t spend the rest of lockdown, nay my life pacing up and the down my kitchen like I was auditioning for a brass band. There was only one thing for it. GOOGLE. Back to my trusted old comrade and provider of all things unorthodox. I was on a mission. I needed to find my next alternative that worked and fast. Now that the fight club had knocked me out bitten the dust.

And what I found blew my mind

The Drugs don’t work.

Last time I blogged I talked about how menopause makes me feel like I’m going through some sort of reverse puberty. Like I am morphing back into pre-pubescent years, only with less energy and more facial hair. I had spent a few months rarely un-impacted and had tried lots of ways to help with not only menopause but also the impact it had/has on mine and Ian’s relationship. One of those many things we tried was to take part in a TV show where we received some fairly robust counselling and a variety of tasks to do both on and off camera that would help us with our intimacy issues brought on by Lady M. This came just after my last bout of anxiety and time away from work so to say we had both had enough of the monstrous Lady M would be putting it mildly.
Anyway off we went with open heart and minds and took part in four days of intensive filming. It sounds weird but talking about our intimacy issues with complete strangers with a camera pointing at us at for 8 hours a day really helped. They had us in some pretty peculiar circumstances and positions; if you’ll pardon the pun. I cant go into much more detail about this just yet as the broadcast has been severely delayed due to COVID-19. But we had lots of fun, tried things in and outside the box and formed some really nice relationships. No, no threesomes. All in all a success. Why am I telling you this if I can’t spill the beans? Well at the time of filming you’ll see me (hopefully) when it airs with a constant companion; other than Ian that is. My face fan. You know the cheesy types that you buy from Spain for someone you really don’t like. My hot flushes had returned in abundance, which was puzzling as they had been under control for a good few years. I was getting them about 10 times a day at the point of filming. In February, in London. The only plus side to this was noone knew if I was embarrassed or menopausal. Anyway it was puzzling and worrying.

Back to normality for a few weeks and back to work, the dreaded flushes increased. Upped their anti to 20 a day. I couldn’t figure it out, I had not gained extra weight, I had not changed my diet, wasn’t drinking any more than normal and I was taking all of my one million supplements. Yet here I was like a furnace, and to make things worse they increased with intensity when I was under the slightest bit pressure, one difficult conversation had me dripping like a ten dollar whore in a busy brothel. Now I don’t mind walking about with the fan, I advertise my menopause, I am not ashamed of it. But I am embarrassed when I’m sat in a meeting with 5/10 colleagues, I get asked a perfectly normal question then I light up like a Belisha Beacon during rush hour. Or I feel I have to spend the day asking my friend Catherine, do I smell ? can you tell I was gonna cry? did I look un-comfortable? do I smell?(again) Now don’t get me wrong, at that particular time I wasn’t that anxious. My anxiety had been under control for a while. But walking around the office, soaked to the skin, feeling like you smell and perspiring every time you get looked at, makes you anxious. Made me anxious. There was only one thing for it. I would have to go and see Dr Feel Good. You remember her the drug pusher? The one who just loves giving me drugs, the one I’d wish I met in my twenties.

I made an appointment and with fan in one hand, list of questions in the other off I went. Now you may remember me and Dr Feel Good have been here before, we have went through a plethora of prescriptions, none of them worked for me. And as I have previously said I do not want to be on anti- depressants for the rest of my life. No disrespect to anyone they work for, it’s just not for me. Mostly due to the fact I am not depressed, I am Peri-Menopausal, or Menopausal. Who knows? I don’t and it would seem neither does Dr Feel Good. I went into that 10 minute consultation with a list of questions, updated aliments and changes. Why had the hot flushes suddenly returned with a vengeance, why was I feeling anxious due to this, why was I suddenly feeling more and more tired ? was I coming to the end of this journey? was that the light at the end of the tunnel? I honestly thought the sudden surge of hormones and hotness might have meant that the tide had turned. Did it mean after 8 long years (and it was long years) my metamorphosis was over. Remember the hungry caterpillar reference? I was to be more disappointed now than ever before. Was I Dr Feel Good; was I nearing the end?

“She didn’t know”, she said. “How could she, each individual menopause journey is different”. Did I need any blood tests, could she perhaps test my hormone levels. Was there anything else we could do? No she said, blood tests are not needed, I can clearly see you’re in menopause. The 15 hot flashes I had endured during the consultation might have been the give-away. But no testing was needed. What could she suggest? “Anti-depressants can help”. No. “Femiston?” NO. “Mirena Coil”. NO. NO! NO!! NO!!! (that is my head screaming not actually me). But I guess she could see I was internally screaming through my so-not-a-poker face. I am no Lady Ga Ga. Sensing my apprehension to all the things we had tried before and probably freezing cold from all of the Spanish fanning, Dr Feel Good said ‘‘We do have a brand new type of HRT. Made from natural products the Progesterone is made from SOYA.‘’ My ears pricked up like a bloodhound on an foxhunt hearing the bugle. Tell me more. A lot of women in a similar position to me who are very sensitive to Progesterone were having great results, she said. BUT. Here we go, I thought. I’m gonna grow a beard again. “No but you might get some bleeding back”. Okaayyyy….. For the record I had at the time had about four periods in a year granted some of them had lasted six weeks, but they had been very sporadic. And given that in the past I’d lost enough blood to start by own black pudding factory, I was less than impressed. How bad I said ? Difficult to tell. I am not sure about you, but when I ask a salesman will this high powered cake mixer mix cakes really fast, and their response is, “Difficult to tell”. then I probably won’t buy it. But with this, when you feel like you’re on your last lifeline, again, you’ll try anything once wont you ? Except maybe incest or line dancing.

What if it doesn’t work? How long do I need to take to for? Will it linger in my system? Let’s try for three months then if it is no good I’ll refer you to see the Menopause clinic, Dr Feel Good suggested. CUE god like music, I had pestered this women for best part of four years to be referred to this clinic. She was actually quite surprised I had found it. I imagine the GP’s training goes something like this. The first rule about Menopause clinic is that that you don’t talk about the Menopause clinic!!! It’s harder to get into than well, the fight club. I agreed. Take them every month. See what happens. I took them for two. Fight Club would’ve hurt me less. You get a log and a link to this medication, read it Dr Feel Good advised. I did. It suggested that a women in my circumstances did NOT need to take progesterone everyone month, certainly not the elephant tranquiliser amounts I was plugging into my body. I completed my tracker daily like a good girl. Week one. Minimal impact, the only positive being that the hot flashes reduced slightly.

By week three I was back on the phone to Dr Feel Good. Or as she is now known Dr Feel Shite. I advised her that this seemed to increase my anxiety, I was losing my flight or fight control by the day and although I was sleeping a little better the night terrors were awful. She assured me everything would be fine and it might take a while to settle down. But I had done my research. I read that Progesterone can actually increase anxiety, and also that most contraceptive pills are only made from this hormone. I had to stop taking the pill when I was 26 as I was depressed and suicidal. Dr Feel Good knew all this, but still prescribed the highest strength of progesterone available on this treatment. Research has discovered that progesterone can activate an almond part shape of the brain called the Amygdala. This is the brains chief alert system. It responds to cues in the environment and assesses if they represent a threat, triggering fear and anxiety if it thinks that they are. It works like a defence mechanism and it is the first part of the brain to respond. Progesterone enhances the amygdala and can have the same effect on the brain as depressive drugs like alcohol and sleeping pills. I knew this was what was happening to me, the first couple of weeks in when I was on only oestrogen I was like a fluffy kitten, care free and happy. Until the Progesterone got into my system. And boy does it. Our body breaks down most substances using metabolites, and they are then removed by the kidney and liver. This doesn’t happen with progesterone. When broken down progesterone becomes active in the brain. This then impacts a little receptor which is like the excitement police. Drugs that bind to it, stop any excitement. No wonder I was anxious, miserable and constantly full of panic. Dr Feel Good said I couldn’t rely on one paper in our phone call. I said no, but I could I rely on me and I knew that my mental health was being bashed by the fun police. I was not staying on these pills any longer. We struck a bargain and compromised and I said I would take them until I got a referral to the gynaecologist at the Menopause clinic as promised. She would refer me as soon as possible, she said. I got my referral through a few weeks later. The pills went in the bin that day. Once I had made my mind up that was it. No more Progesterone. I now know that those drugs don’t work. They just made me worse. And I’ll never see their face again.

Link to paper on what increased Progesterone can cause.


Change; there are lots of synonyms for change. Transmute, vary, mutate, amend, modify, replace, trade, transform. Transform has to be my favourite as I associate it with the positive connotations for change, ‘the cocoon transformed into a butterfly’. The Hungry Caterpillar. We all remember that story right. It is probably the best told tale of metamorphosis to youngsters around the globe. Through that well told tale we have all experienced the beauty that is metamorphism. But what about the reverse of this, the negative , the opposite. What synonyms for that do we have? Standstill, stagnation, idleness, remission. Quite recently I was asked to describe how Peri- menopause feels and how it impacts me & my partner. Response; It feels like puberty in reverse. Why that analogy? Well I wanted to describe the feelings, hormone surges, anxious thoughts and complete lack of understanding of just what is going on with your body during puberty and menopause, so not only women could relate but men too.
During puberty the hormone know as GnRH is produced from the hypothalamus into the brain. This hormone stimulates the pituitary gland forcing it to release the two hormones that wake up the other hormones needed to create all the great things about puberty; these stages are called the Tanner Stages. Testosterone is in abundance. They bring all the underlying delights of puberty such as acne, body odour and growth spurts. During these Tanner stages your hormones increase in your body covering it in a mass of sluice, a landslide of emotions and feelings you have never experienced before. Although you don’t quite understand what is happening a lot of what happens is weird but wonderful . Your first erection for a boy, first fanny flutter for a girl. Nice unexpected surprises. A lovely little shock like a ‘jack in the box’. Or a nice surprise like the alarm going off at 6.00am then you realise it’s a Sunday, “no work for me.” During puberty you are often confused, crabby, moody and sad. Counteracting those delightful surprises that have come your way. Each revealed with an advent calendar for every day of the Tanner stage. Day one an erection, day twelve a set of C cups, right through to the last day where there is a plethora of pubic hair!! Yes at last ‘I am a woman/Man’. Puberty advent complete.
How relatable is puberty vs menopause? During puberty we are predominately a solo traveller, if we are old enough to have a boyfriend/girlfriend/both we are attached solely with our emotions, not mentally, physically, spiritually and stressfully. As teens we don’t have the added stresses during our sexual encounters such as mortgages, births, illness and deaths. The more common worries are; am I good kisser? is my bum to big? when will I have hairs on my chest? do I have a small penis? So although we may be ‘in a relationship‘ during puberty, most things apocalyptic turn out to be a dawning. During the menopause most women are in a relationship and do have a wife/husband/both (I imagine not many have the energy for both!) meaning that we share all the same experiences ; the dawning becomes the apocalyptic. It affects us all. Our partners also have to transform into someone else to be able to cope with our symptoms. ‘Don’t cuddle me’, ‘I’m too hot’, ‘cuddle me I want to cry’, ‘have sex with me I feel horny’, ‘don’t touch me’, ‘I love you’, ‘I hate you’, ‘I’ve never been so happy’, ‘I’ve never been this sad’,’ I feel great’, ‘I feel shit’. A platter of emotions. No dipping sauce.
One complication being there is very little advice for women and none for men. And the women who are going through it are far too busy dodging their own sluice to dig out their partner’s . It’s an extreme sport. Landslide lottery. Survival of the fittest. If only we were jellyfish.
During menopause or Peri-menopause your hormones decline, your oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone all bugger off and leave. Each taking a piece of you with them. A reverse puberty. The relatively of the hormones that gave you your woman/manhood then taking it away is unfathomable. Instead of growing hair you lose it, instead of thinking about sex , you’re thinking of snoozing, Instead of being ‘cool’ you’re constantly ‘hot’. More fire than the Fonz. And if you don’t know who the Fonz is, think Happy Days; Better Late Than Never. That landslide of emotions is back, but instead of awakening your sexuality, identity and purpose they take it away. Little by little. There are no refunds, barters or exchanges. Removed, gone without a trace. Libido replaced with loss of bladder control, pubes replaced with panic, acne with anxiety, growth spurts with groans. It is all reversed. Every unwanted hard-on, growing pain, tender breast and body conscious moment that we all went through as boys and girls is unpicked, reversed. I am a caterpillar. I am in remission. Reverting back to pre-pubescent years. That is what menopause feels like. Unlike the caterpillar going through its own puberty I fear that my species of butterfly is about to become extinct .
There are many other creatures that go through metamorphosis. The Turritopsis Dohrni is one of them. Only it has a superpower. It is a jellyfish that begins its life as an egg, then enters the free-swimming larva stage, settling down as a polyp on the ocean floor before morphing into a sexually mature jellyfish (think of a massive glowing blob of a creature, chains, casual dress ; cruising around the ocean in its Chrysler 300: Drake on Spotify. Cardi-Jelly. SICK ). Unlike other jellies this one can revert back to a polyp any time it faces environmental stress, attacks by predators, sickness or old age. Being re-born again and again. If I was able to morph into anything whilst I am dodging the landslide that is the menopause, then this is it. A jellyfish gangster, where landslides don’t matter.

Let there be love.

Anxiety, where did the word derive from? Because it so fits the feeling doesn’t it: anxious, antsy, agitated and apprehensive. All of those feelings need shelter from the anxious rain, under the umbrella that is love.
Ironically for me when I am in the throes of an anxious period there never feels like there is a shelter; no shield or safeguard. Where will I find this or who will be my umbrella? This is something that I wonder from time to time. As I have previously stated, I can normally cope with my anxious periods. I put in coping mechanisms to fight off the feelings. On some occasions though this is simply not achievable and that isn’t to say that the support isn’t there. It is just that my anxiety would rather I get wet; a Tsunami of feelings with no way to find shelter. Anxiety takes away your ability to share, you want to be honest but when you’re in the grips of it, your brain just won’t let you. Instead of having one chimp mess with your brain you have a Troop. And they are relentless. The symptoms vary from person to person; but for me mine bring a jaundiced plethora of perils. Paranoia, vulnerability, nervousness, sadness and insecurity. Basically I am robbed of my whole essence. It also impacts relationships and my ability to interact with others. I hide; my mask hiding the symbol of my inner self.

My most recent encounter with Lady M’s gift of anxiousness floored me a little. I had to take some ‘time out ‘, play hide and seek with my confidence. Leading up to this particular stretch my relationship with my boss took a thrashing. This took us both completely by surprise, totally leftfield. Why? Well sans boss, Sarah and I had worked in the same area for a couple of years, we had a great relationship; we had the ability to joke; to know when to take each other seriously; to respect each other and I could talk to her about anything. Then she became my boss and I turned into a clam. Mollie the Mollusk. It was weird. And I could not stop it. I tried reasoning with the Troops, but the strictest of Sergeant Majors couldn’t have controlled this unruly rabble. They would not budge. And I was backed into a corner my essence depleting. The same lady I had laughed with, shared hugs with, even shared intimacies with (me not her, she is way too shy) was sat opposite me and I couldn’t tell her about my most defining feature: my anxiety. The weird thing was; she was already aware, she had read my blog, I am vocal about my Menopause journey. But this time the Troop’s wanted a war and they were not about to retreat.

We talk about anxiety and how it impacts the individual and relationships. I have talked previously about how it has impacted my relationship with my partner Ian. Never before has it had such an impact with a third party. And boy did it take me my surprise. The Troops ambushed me and poor Sarah. The desired combat needed a joined army. But the Troops fractured our division. We tried all types of tactics, I cried, we talked, I cried, we clashed, I cried, we cuddled, I cried, we tried to connect, I cried. You get the picture. The frustration was unfathomable. Not only is Sarah kind and compassionate she is quite introvert and a little shy. Nothing wrong with that, until you have an angry, anxious, paranoid woman sitting in front of you crying. Jesus the strongest of characters would be baffled. I would’ve struggled to deal with someone behaving that way and I consider myself comfortable with tragedy and upset. Sarah is not. Was not. Is now. I had lots of time of reflect on this during my weeks absence, which probably should’ve been longer but I needed to get back to normality as the risk of being off too long is that you’ll stay in that state. It’s a proverbial roundabout. And I needed to get off.

I have managed absence linked to all kinds of illnesses in my work lifetime, from mums to be to mums suffering stillbirth, cancer and depression through to sickness and diarrhoea. I have heard it all. Sarah not so much. She has had a team of analysts and has chosen non-operational roles during her career. Nothing wrong with that, but again imagine the transition. Suddenly faced with this. Me. Menopause. Anxiety. What a baptism of fire. Reflecting on this after the event, I can empathise with how she felt, how confused must she have been. This outgoing woman, previously seemingly carefree and funny turned into this emotional shivering wreck overnight. With no real reason why. I know why now. Communication and perception. Yes sans me being her direct report she knew I suffered from the monstrous migration of Troops from time to time. But it had never mattered. Not to us. She always got the rational, strong, funny version of me. The coral not the mollusck. She had never witnessed the vicissitude of my seasons. I can only imagine it came as surprise. An Ambush. And the guns were loaded.

During this period my partner and I were coming to the end of a very long stressful time where we were renovating our flat. During my week off work I had the added pressure of builders and electricians for company. How did I cope? I never left the bedroom. For one week I binged on a comedy series I found on Amazon. The only human contact I had was my regular calls and texts back and forth with my boss. My partner Ian forearmed me with supplies so that I didn’t need to go down stairs during daylight and I drank little fluid so trips to the toilet were not a requirement. This time gave me lots of space to reflect (the shows I choose to watch during my anxiety periods require no watching but have the ability to make you laugh, forget, reflect) And reflect I did, why could I open up with her? how could I repair this fractured relationship? how could I make things better? The answer, communicate. I thought through why I had retreated to my trench during this particular war, why had I lost the ability to talk. Sarah called me, texted me gave me her ear when I needed it, left me alone with just enough space to know she was there but not flood me with questions. Gave me space. Time to breath. Time to understand how I could breathe life back into our relationship.

I went back to work still a little fractured but needing normality. The last thing I needed was the fracture turning into a crack. I was greeted with warmth not only by her but the rest of the management team. The simplest of things can stop a person going over the edge. I walked back into work already feeling a failure, so be treated with no judgement and a welcome smile is/was enough. Little actions like being included in conversations mean so much; stop you running back home to the box set and bedsheets. The next time we had a catch up I told her. I told every daft thought I had had since reporting into her, I told her about every time I felt like a dickhead. Why she must have thought I was acting like a dickhead. Why I had lost my tongue. Which for me is a bloody miracle for those who know me. How did it feel ? With every sentence began the annihilation of the Troops. We defeated them. Talking defeated them. Honesty. Admitting the problem. I don’t why I thought her opinion of me would change if I told her about my anxiety. If anything not telling her made it worse. Which I know is the first rule of thumb, talking being open, breaking the stigma. I know all this, advocate all of this , have practiced all of this. Doesn’t mean that it gets any easier to admit. But admit it I did. Like an oyster I revealed my pearl. My pearls of wisdom. This has made us stronger, we’ve had a great year so far, the best yet. Why? She knows the real me. And guess what? She still likes me, she understands me. She supports me. She always did; anxiety just wouldn’t let me allow it to be true. I can’t say that I won’t ever feel that way again. But I can say this. Next time the Troop’s set try set up barracks in my brain again she will be the first person I tell. Because I know there will be no judgement, no bad feeling and no anger. We will no longer let there be just ‘anxiety’. We will also ‘let there be love’.

Bitch is Back

Bitch is back. Lady M has finished converting her ramshackle mansion and has moved back into my dwelling again. Five months, five glorious months she left me alone, not a peep from her. Well I say not a peep, the odd whisper but nothing I couldn’t handle. Until this last two months. It’s almost like she took her summer vacation, went off to the Cotswolds or wherever her summer residence is, came back in a grump and decided to Make.Me.Pay. Let’s get up to speed as it’s been a while since I blogged but nothing was happening, I had nothing to blog, and I have been really busy with a ‘normal life.’ Sans periods. Maybe that was my mistake, Lady M came back from her Summer retreat looked at me; living my best life (sorry I thought I was writing for Towie then) whilst her; back from her holiday, tan fading, a little fatter, a lot more bitter: She wanted to make me pay. And boy has she.
How? I hear you cry. Easy, she made me cry, broke me physically, mentally & morally – because believe me Lady M’ s crimes should be included in the list of moral crimes; Prostitution, Bigamy, Pornography, Illegal Gambling, Illegal Drug use, and Menopause. Moral crimes often involve behaviour between two consenting adult with no immediate victims brought to charge. Actually no, fuck that I didn’t consent for this, I didn’t ask to be a victim of the Menopause, yes I signed up to it; had little choice. Did I think Lady M would toy with my emotions like a pimp with his prey, make my body crave things like a junkie wanting a fix, gamble with my emotions; using my brain like a board game; Russian Roulette meets Twister. Twilette!!! Did I hell. Sure I knew it would be tough, but this. It is another level. And it stings so much more than I remember. I thought I had been through the brunt of the Menopause and its delightful symptoms. I thought that the end was in sight. I was wrong.
There are 34 symptoms of menopause, all varying degrees. I have 16 of them. And to be really clear. None of them bring Joy. Of the 16 I can live daily and not show the impacts outwardly for 6 of them, you know the least impacting ones that only happen daily, weekly & monthly. Most of the time I can cope/bear/hide 6 of them from friends and family & colleagues. Not from Ian – he gets the Joy of seeing me suffer from all 16. He is a lucky guy. But there are 10 of them I can’t always keep at bay, go about my business and live a normal life. How do I deal with them? Here’s my list – who knows it may help you.
1. Hot Flashes, these bad boy took over my life about 5 years ago, remember Bob Tash? I tried HRT, the pill, marina coil. None worked. Supplements, avoiding spicy food and hot drinks and green tea. The supplements that work for me are Vitamin D and Ashwanda. Do some research and don’t just accept HRT from your doctor if you don’t feel it is the right choice, HRT made me nuts, well I was already nuts it just added to it.
2. Irregular Periods, this condition is coupled with up’s and down’s. Obviously the upside is you may not get a period; result! The downs; for me, I still get the PMT, the bloating, the farting, the overeating and the fatigue. So no up’s really. Also they are not just irregular they are brutal….. Seriously I could use Noah’s Arc on bad weeks. Also don’t be fooled, I have recently come out of a 5 month dry spell, my reward? 8 weeks of non-stop bleeding, the worst anxiety attack to date and a belly that would give Stavros Flatly a run for his….. Well belly.
3. Fatigue is a sluggish, tired-all-the time feeling that cannot be remedied with a good night’s rest. Chronic fatigue can occur during menopause and drastically affect quality of life, including putting a strain on relationships, diminishing productivity at home or work and increasing stress. No shit Sherlock. My symptoms on this vary, I am as bouncy as a new born lamb sometimes but give me 6 weeks of bleeding, bloating and blubbing, guess what I am goosed, again I try to keep up with my supplements, Vitamin D and Vitamin B Complex , Magnesium are really good for energy.
4. Memory Lapses, this is very common symptom of menopause, it’s awful at first, you’re convinced you have Alzheimer’s, well I did, I think. No seriously; the way I combat this is to write things down. My short term memory is the worst. Long term great, so I can remember the time Ian bought me a birthday card from the corner shop 6 years ago, ask me what I bought at the corner shop 6 mins ago. Not a chance. The solution to this can be one of two things. You can blag, (stretch the truth; you know like a consultant)  some people are quite good at this. I AM NOT. Or write it down, not bullets mind you ‘word for word’ or a really good tip for work, take a young fit person to important meetings with you to ‘facilitate’ A bit like adding a memory foam topper on your battered old mattress. They will give you some support.
5. Night Sweats these have subsided over the past few years, I have controlled them so they only happen during extreme times, HRT did take these away along with the hot flashes however the benefits didn’t outweigh the negatives. Cotton sheets, zero polyester, defiantly no silk (sorry all you ladies who still have a sex drive and like to get durty). Since I started taking daily supplements the night sweats have subsided. They return with sunshine, too much fatty food and alcohol. Now I understand why Nun’s exist, nothing to do with faith; wool sheets, no sex, a man who never answers back, long dress so no need to worry about flooding, sweating or gaining weight. I am convinced that Nun’s came when women in the past were looking for solutions to menopause and didn’t have access to HRT, Anti-depressants Supplements or Vibrators.
6. Loss of Libido – I have it. No more words. Try everything you can get your hands. That is my advice. When it works tell me. Oh HRT worked for me, but it also made me have bouts of real rage and uncontrollable tears, which meant that Ian got to have sex with a suicidal female who punched him in the face during sex. He is a Lucky man. Oh and men FYI. Losing this pisses some women off as much as you.
7. Mood Swings are caused by the fluctuating hormone levels during menopause which can impact neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters, can be impacted when the hormones are out of balance, this leads to erratic moods, extreme happiness switching to hysterical crying, anger or sadness. I don’t have many answers to this, I find mine are better when I stick to my routine of gym, healthy eating and I take Magnesium & Maca Root. I was on anti-depressants but they did not alter the mood swings. I hate them. Identity thief.
8. Bloating. I have suffered from bloating all my adult life, it varies from month to month, this worsens if I am stressed or anxious. It is caused by your Estrogen being erratic; it falls and rises unexpectedly during menopause, so you may experience bloating outside of your normal period cycle. Peppermint tea, apple cider vinegar and exercise.
9 & 10. Anxiety & Depression both caused by the dramatic drop in Estrogen, both have drastically impacted my life so far, the depression floored me about 5 years ago and I needed prescription pills to get myself back together, now I take all of the supplements I have listed to keep this bad boy at bay, and follow a healthy lifestyle. I can recognise the signs and normally ‘re-wire myself’ in a day or two if I feel this coming on. Anxiety comes out of the blue and is caused by a drop in Estrogen which impacts the brain producing Dopamine and Serotonin, this leads to feeling anxious and trouble finding calm. I have recently tried CBD oil. Jury is out.
There you have it, my top 10. I would prefer them to be less of a top ten hit to be honest but hey-hoo at least I beat Cheryl Cole’s last track; what am I talking about? Everyone beat that. The other ones that blight my life but are a little less impacting; are weight gain, incontinence, digestive problems, muscle spasms, itchy skin & insomnia. Basically I am the fat, bloated, sweaty, angry, irrational lady who pisses herself. Don’t forget to say “Hi!” next time I see you. If you don’t there is a chance I will either hit you or hump your leg. Anyway where was I? Oh yeah slagging lady M off, she nearly floored me this time but I am fighting back. Keeping my head above water and thankfully stopping myself from holding Ian’s head under. The bitch might be back but she is not top of my charts.

Now that’s what I call Molliepause 2018.

It’s been nearly a year since I started the compilation of stories that has become my blog, and almost five years since I became Lady M’s subordinate. It’s been quite a journey but not all that bad. Some of the conditions imposed upon me have led to some interesting prerequisites. So I thought I would share with you my top hits (that I can remember) to remind us all that through the varying seasons the menopause inflicts upon us. You can still find time to laugh.

The complete and utter loss of memory. Now there are many tales of memory loss that bring cringe, laughter and embarrassment but this tale has to be in my top five. Upon joining my new department I had warned my boss, close peers and colleagues about my tendency to ‘forget’  things , names a particular bone of contention. About three months into the role in a fairly small department of 20 (ish) people, there was a bomb scare in the building. We were all evacuated to the buildings across the road until the bomb squad, police and relevant emergency services attended the scenes to quantify what this dodgy package was. Circa 2000 people all moved across to the car parks adjacent to our building, where soft drinks and refreshments were supplied until the business decided what to do with us. Much like a gang of refugees from world war two we stood firm clustered together in our specific departments. After a good few hours of keeping each other entertained with tunes such as ‘we’ll meet again’ and ‘roll out the barrel,’ those with alternative transport were told that they could leave upon authorisation from their managers. Following this much welcomed news an eager young man advance towards me full of smiles. And hope. ‘ Can I go home please Mollie?’ Yes I replied; just find your manager and let them know. ‘Mollie you are my manager’ I looked at him, nothing, no name came to me, I stared at his face, zero recollection. Now at this point I could have said ‘one sec I will get someone to record your name’, I could have blagged it, shouted someone over with a clipboard, and recorded the lad’s name, job done. NO ONE WOULD EVER KNOW. Did I do that?  Did my foggy menopausal brain allow my logical, quick thinking, problem solving brain to fire up? Did it shite. I responded with this. ‘You don’t work for me’. Puzzled and obviously thinking I was having a stroke, he replied ‘ Mollie it’s me ***** ( I was going to say here I am not putting his real name  for anonymity purposes, but I actually still can’t remember it!)  Again I could have taken the obvious easy route. Again I didn’t, nay couldn’t place him, ‘Mollie’ its me **** I do work for you’, – ‘no you don’t’ – ‘yes I do’  – This pantomime went on for an embarrassingly long time, until another one of the team (who thankfully I remembered) walked over and informed me that he did work in our department and that he would log his leaving time. I couldn’t walk away fast enough. Thankfully the team saw the comedic value in it and rather than the lad being upset that I had no recollection of his name, face or general being, he laughed and laughed and laughed.  He still does every time I see him in the corridors.

The Brian Fog. Don’t mix this delightful little ditty up with memory loss. This baby has the capability to make you act, look and feel like a complete tool at the most inopportune times. Now my job involves lots of meetings and conference calls, you know the ones where someone works from home and the dog barks, someone thinks they’re giving a really good update only to find that they were on mute the whole time, or your mum, partner or kid walks in the room half way through your update interrupting with ‘mam can I some money?’ that sort of thing. Now I am a control freak, I like to plan. I normally like a room where I have access to screens, spider phones or speakers. I alleviate any risk of a Robert Kelly incident at all costs. This particular time I had to dial in at the last-minute,  which meant either that it was a late invite or I had not realised that I had accepted the invite. No big deal: I would dial in from my desk and use my earphones. Problem was I didn’t have any. I rummaged around my drawers, finding a pair deep in the back of a stash of emergency stationary. With seconds to spare I was in. Houston we didn’t have a problem. Until the chair asked me a question. Again, no big deal, I knew my stuff, this was nothing new to me. I gave my most eloquent update and sat back feeling as smug as a technical whiz-kid getting to a new level on Mario. Until they asked me was I on mute? No I wasn’t, I had checked, I repeated my update feeling the all too familiar beads of sweat creeping up my back. No. No. Calm down I said you’ve got this. Until I heard ‘no sorry Mollie we still can’t hear you’. What was wrong? I wasn’t on mute, I was connected, I could hear them, I didn’t understand; the beads of sweat rapidly turned into a stream. I looked at my colleague on the same call sat next to me with a now desperate, puzzled look. I put myself on mute. ‘Can you hear me Jules, I asked?’  Well, yeah but I am sat right next to you, she replied. Together we checked the internet connection, the headphones plugged into correct hole, all the usual stuff that could be hindering my communicaton . Nothing.

‘ One second,’ I said, ‘I will try again’ – maybe the microphone was blocked on the headphones. I picked them up and started blowing into the earphone; a bit like the scene to Bridget Jones blowing into the microphone only to discover it wasn’t switched on; picture that  and you’ve got the gist. It was cringe. ‘Can you hear me now?’ Still nothing. Carry on I said and get back to me in a bit. I continued my quest to find the issue, after much blowing at the headphones followed by me speaking into the cord saying, One – Two – One – Two….  Jules leaned over and picked up the cord. ‘There’s no bloody microphone on the headphones,’ she said, ‘how bloody old are they!!!’ In between belly laughs and being unable to breathe we gave my updates with a nifty use of the mute button and Jules acting like my translator which just about got the message through, after which I ran to the toilet to dry up the remnants of the hottest flush ever.

The forgetfulness. As we all hurtle towards middle age this is part and parcel of our daily regime: where’s my keys, have I forgot my phone, is the front door locked, are the cats in?? You know the drill. In my quest to beat the middle-aged dread and spread; I have taken to going to the gym each morning before work. This not only helps me fight the flab it’s also good for my soul, it puts me in a good mood and sets me up for the day ahead. When it goes to plan. Now I don’t know about you lot but as Aunt Flo’s visit creeps closer each month, Lady M ramps up her ramifications. It’s a doublet with cataclysmic conclusions. I become weepier, more bloated, more anxious,  even more bloated ,  angrier and more forgetful. This week I have been blessed with a tandem visit from my two perpetrators.  It’s my turn. My time of the month. It’s not been a bad one so far all told; other than being a little impatient with myself and others, whilst approximating a pot-bellied pig.

The main impact this month has been to my memory. Not once but twice this week I have been caught short, as it were. Leading to some obscure choices due to forgetfulness.  After my workout I love to go back to the changing rooms put the music on, and proceed with the leisurely routine of getting ready. Now I’m pretty low maintenance; a quick shower, light dusting of bronzer, hair up and I am good to go in under ten minutes. That is if I have remembered the essentials. You know like a towel or underwear. Yes, not once during this period, actual period,  I have forgotten these two essentials. Now let me ask you ladies. If say you had forgotten your towel and had completed a really sweaty workout; with Aunt Flo dealing her worst and a wet wipe not cutting the mustard,  which option would you choose? Option A. No shower. Not an option, Aunt Flo’s flow is to damning at the best of the times; add in Peri-menopause, flow turns to flood. Option B. Use one of the towels left behind  by those who either has shares in Matalan or has given up fighting the flab. Mmmm maybe but on seconds thoughts; no. Gross right. Option C. Run around the changing room until you’re dry. Mmmm Safer option; as I was alone, stupid and had an 8:00am. There I was running up and down using Lycra leggings to cover my tuppence, mouthing ‘nut bush city limits’ as the cleaner walked in. ‘Sorry’ I said face already red from too much exertion, hot shower and pretending to be Tina Turner, ‘I forgot my towel,’  ‘Oh.’ she said, ‘might have been better if you had gone into the next room and used the hand dryer.’ Following this cringe experience I vowed to ensure that I’d never forget my towel again. And I didn’t: I forgot my Bra. Now for those of you blessed with double A’s or a nice looking set of C’s this may seem no biggy. Mine however;  are colossal,  as Aunt Flo was sojourning they were bigger than ever, reminiscent of the  Mitchell brothers. I often tell them to ‘Git outa my pub.’ They never listen.  Lady luck was in attendance this day as I had chosen to bring in two tops, one that would have gotten me arrested  sans bra and another that was high-necked and would need the imagination of a pubescent sixteen year old to rustle up any lewd images. Great, this  would be fine bra-less, fine.  Fine that is if using your nipples as hip muffs have suddenly become en-trend. There was nothing else I could do; I would have to wear my sweaty sports bra. And I did and only I and Natalie knew about it. To be fair it was actually really comfy and kept the brothers nicely imprisoned all day.

The hot flush. A trip to London in its self is enough to bring on my panic attacks, self-doubt and anxiety. Couple this with travelling with the world’s most un-organised gay man and you have yourself a recipe for disaster. My pervious trip to London had seen me flying solo, however despite having the row of rows leading to nil communication from Ian; a call from my daughter in law saying my son was in hospital, and a mini panic attack as the train pulled into King’s Cross: did I have my ticket? Where was the hotel? Could I handle the tube? What if there was a terrorist attack?? I had coped. Which, let me tell you, is no mean feat when you have the imagination of Steven King mixed with Nostradamus.

The next trip down I had company as Clarus couldn’t be there to meet me, Steve would replace her. Good stuff: not only would this keep my over-active mind occupied during the journey, he himself being a well-travelled lad would assist in the navigation across London. Or so I assumed. Steve is one of my new team members and he has slotted right in as if he had never not been there. Within a few weeks of him joining the team, we all had affectionate if not slightly UN-PC nick names for each other, life tales were shared and unbreakable bonds made. Who better to accompany me on this trip; not only does he know his onions, (workwise) the comforting thought of having a companion to while away the hours on the train journey and help me weave my way through the streets of London would be a welcome change. Or so I thought. That was my first mistake. I assumed that as Steve was always telling us about his holiday travels, he was accustomed to navigating around cosmopolitan cities without the need of a copy of the lonely traveller or a map.  He would keep me calm; help me push any anxious thoughts out-of-the-way and be a supportive shoulder.

Things started well: after I found out which tube we needed, how to find the way to the hotel and steered us around Winter Wonderland without incident we headed back to the hotel for an early night. The next day we attended the meeting; I found our way there too. I mean,  I have been to London loads of times, often on my own and have blended in like a native with no issues at all.  Two days with Steve I had lost all ability to use the underground, felt the need to search for addresses on Google maps and experienced the biggest hot flush to date. Following the meeting we had no rush back to the station as we had an open ticket and the trains were hourly. Great, this meant we could have a stress free walk to Kings Cross avoiding the hot crammed tubes at rush hour. Result. We had missed our preferred train, however not to worry. I advised Steve that we had a booked seat; open ticket for the way back. Now everyone knows what a booked seat, open ticket means: right?  Ok I won’t assume, I will explain. As we had missed our booked seated place,  we could still get a train but we would need to find a seat, as it was an open ticket we could get on any train up until midnight. We waited for the next available train, watching the screens showing the seating availability as intensely as an episode of ‘YOU’ on Netflix.  We had stood all the way from Newcastle to London on the way down and no way were we doing that again. All but one carriage was full, and that one had limited seating. Not to worry, we had plenty time, we would be first through that gate. We headed to the train focussing on the carriage that had seating. Now those more fortunate and the celebs amongst us will know its first class at the top end and then you go down the alphabet towards the end of the carriages in alphabetical order, everyone knows that right? Not Steve. Oh no; every two seconds, ‘we need to get on! we need get on!’ ‘No we don’t Steve ours is the last carriage. Carriage D’. On and on he continued ‘We haven’t got a seat, we need to get on! we need to get on!’ again, ‘no Steve the only carriage with seats is the second  last one, remember?’ Approaching the carriage with the only availability I scanned the area faster than a shopper at the Next Boxing Day sale and found two seats, sitting together, free. RESULT. On we hopped, now at this point I was a little flushed as the experience with Steve had given me a flash back of my three-year old grandson in the back of car repeating ‘are we there yet, are we there yet?’  Not to worry, we were seated and I could start de-layering.  Suddenly Steve announced, ‘We’re on the wrong train, we’re on the wrong train!! ’ And I believed him, so convincing was his cry; I took in every word and took part in the drama like a theatre lovey in an am-dram of Othello. Off the train we dashed, grabbing coats, hats, gloves and suitcases pushing past the quizzical passengers observing us with a mixture of disbelief and hope; hope for our seats, we bounded onto the platform. There we were stood alongside the carriages and the engine noise, with the smell of oil,  steam blowing. Me, fat sweaty and nearly crying, Steve, flapping, running up and down waving his ticket in the air shouting ‘I’ll ask a conductor.’  A mixture of a scene from Downton Abbey  and Carry on up the Carriage.  After I had mopped up my  tears, sweat and nearly Steve’s blood. I took back charge. ‘Steve, its fine, these tickets are for any train remember?’ ‘Quick!’ he panicked, ‘let’s jump back on!’. NO! No way was I getting back on the same carriage: One – the seats had gone and two – the people in that carriage were already waiting with bated breath to see what calamity these two clowns would deliver up next. We would take our chances on another carriage. After steering us to the quiet Zone we found some seats and just as my temperature had dropped to 100 degrees, Steve piped up… ‘Mollie, can I just ask about this  train?’. ‘No, Steve. No you can’t;  you can talk again at York and not before!’ And that’s what I call Molliepause.

Don’t Look Back In Anger




Well hello………….. And welcome back to those of you that care. I have not blogged since July, why? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s not that I haven’t needed too; I have just been distracted with, well life. A happy life? Not all the time. What’s that, had I gotten far too skinny and remarkable and my social life suddenly took a turn for the better? Absolutely not! Honest answer I have been lazy. And I thought I was ok. I thought I had kicked lady M back to her ram-shackled old mansion forever. If you remember I had started to take supplements on a regular basis, I had done my research, put myself through rigorous testing and had come out the other side happier than a laboratory mouse with no extra ears unexpectedly protruding from its back. I WAS HAPPY. Was. Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying I am un-happy. No-no quite the opposite. New job going well, great new team. (I’ll introduce them to you later – you’ll love them) all good on the home front. No new family issues to stress over, relationship great, and sex life marginally better, and I am now a size 10!!! Oh hang on that’s a lie. I am exactly the same shape weight and size as I was when I last blogged. Diet going well you ask?  To be honest the diet did go well, you remember the Keto – low carb – I did get down to 11st 2 lbs. What happened? I’m not entirely sure. But the weight is back, just like the mood swings, outbursts of anger and bloating.

Liken me to a Buddha who has yet to be enlightened – in more ways than one. However I am sticking to my mantra that if I end the year the same size as I started then that’s a result. But it doesn’t feel like it – and here is why. Before I started Peri I was, as I have previously mentioned, 9st 7lb: never changed no matter what I ate or drank. I am now 12st 3llb. Over the past six years I have gained 3 stones; give or take; the odd cake.  Well here is my thinking now. I haven’t put any more weight on this year but I haven’t successfully lost any either. So here it is the next step. LIPO!!!! No seriously I have bought a journal. It’s a full page one and it is lilac. Think Bridget Jones. But here’s the thing instead of writing about finding love, I am going to write about losing one thing and finding another.  Anger and enlightenment.

A few changes have happened since July. As I increased, decreased and eventually found the combo of supplements that keep my Lady M at bay, I also decided to come off my anti- depressants. I was prescribed these about 2.5 years ago when I first discovered I actually gave a shit about what people thought of me. Now before you get all judgemental on me, I have always been mindful of other people’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs, I just didn’t see that mine and their beliefs were rapidly converging. This combined with Lady M knock, knock; knocking on my middle aged door was quite an ordeal. I became anxious and for the first time in my life, depressed. And it is awful. Wiped me off my feet for six weeks, I needed counselling, therapy and of course medication. I was so far at my wits end I would’ve taken anything off the doctor. And I did. Remember Dr Feel good?

But now I am ready to move on – I have ditched all things chemical and replaced it with natural remedies, exercise and healthy (ish) living. And I felt great. FELT. I didn’t just ditch this medication – so carefully prescribed to me after a 3 minute consultation with a medical professional – oh no, I did it gradually. First the HRT, then the anti-acid pills, then the IBS medication and finally the anti-depressants. That is what I have been doing, it’s where I have been – well that and Mallorca. A girl’s gotta have some fun. I have been ‘cold turkey’. ‘ Well turkey’ – the Peri won’t even let you come down in peace. There was nothing cold about this, the flashes put paid to that, however a slight adjustment to my supplements and I pretty much have them back under control.  But they were nothing compared to the other flashes I was about to capitulate to. The all-consuming anger flashes that thundered into my psyche faster than you can say ‘there’s a storm brewing’. They, it, me,  were, are,  foul. And not unlike Lady M herself totally nonsensical. Using various techniques and talking about this stint of irritation helped me to get it under control so I was able to continue working. Clarus was as ever most helpful,’ it’s about choices; don’t attend the meeting if you already feel a stint coming on, or if I felt the stint was turning into more of a stretch, work from home. And talk; honestly’. It worked. It works. I got through it. I was getting through it. At work, at work I was O.K . The hot turkey from coming off HRT hadn’t been so bad. In fact some close colleagues were actually commenting that I had never appeared happier, relaxed, and well, less well angry.

Home life however different matter, the anger and rage I felt as the months have progressed has been difficult to supress. How to describe these outrages? Like a Volcano erupting, Tsunami wave crashing? No this was; is a different type of anger. Gone in a moment leaving obliteration. Remember that cartoon charter the Tasmanian devil? I am like that only taller, with a hairier chin. It’s almost like the acid reflux that’s dematerialised from my tummy has reformed; only it’s in my very essence embedded within my DNA. And I struggle to stop it. I really try. And I know that sounds like a cop out but it is true. I just cannot control them. Don’t get me wrong I’m not spinning around 24/7 destroying everything and everyone in range and radius. It’s mostly just Ian. Bless him. The rage is at its evilest and most ruinous when Lady M’s mate Aunt Flo comes to town. But here’s the thing, one major side effect of the coming off the anodynes is Aunt Flo never leaves town. As I write this Aunt Flo’s just concluded a six week bender. Unlike Lady M she didn’t just squat, that bitch had a down payment; mortgage approved and I have no tenancy agreement. She is accomplished, proficient and more skilled than Lady M. Why wouldn’t she be, this bitch has rendered me incompetent to her wares since puberty, and around her I am ineffectual.  I won’t give up though I am going to fight this head on, pass me that suit of armour (oh and a spare one for Ian if you please). If going into combat with the disreputable duo is on the cards then hand me the pack. I’ll have my poker face ready faster than you can say ‘full flush’.  I have already researched what supplements can help, I’m back at the gym, eating healthy, going to give mindfulness and Yoga a go and have gave up alcohol for the foreseeable. I am back bitches and you can count on one thing I will be looking back at the anger.

Rise up.


I have continued to take my supplements, I am guessing I am about nine or ten weeks in now. I have not changed the frequency of which I take them or the amount, I have added a few additions but these are mostly due to the dreaded weight gain. I have over the past few years tried a variety of different diets. Atkins, L.A skinny, Cambridge, Calorie controlled, Carol Vordermon’s Detox and Slimming World to name a few. Some have given me quick results some have given me slower more achievable changes. None have given me my pre-perimenopausal body back. I catapulted into my forties with the optimism of a newly appointed flight attendant, anything you’d like Miss, more wine, pillow not too hard, food to your liking? I was loving it. I was as enthusiastic to turn forty as I had been turning twenty one, world my oyster, life’s for living, things to do, places to see, people to meet. And I was thin. Remember when Victoria Beckham was celebrated for writing that letter to her younger self, ( you know the one she wrote when she was still practically in her mother’s womb?)

Well if I could write one to my forty year old self as I propel towards my fiftieth birthday I know what I would I say. Stay forty. Why forty? Because that was when I changed, I was so confident, strong, self-assured, energetic, happy. And deluded. I was mis-informed, someone needs to let us ladies hurtling towards their fortieth in on the craic, this is when this shit gets real. I was under the impression that once you reach your fortieth birthday a zen like figure comes out from the clouds, touches your forehead and say’s something like, ” well done, you’ve got through the worst, no more broken hearts for you, worrying about how you look will be a thing of the past, you will ooze confidence and yes, yes,  you can eat bread then go to the nightclub.”   Then you will  be struck by the enlightenment fairy , who will grant  you those three wishes that you wrote on the back of a fag packet in at an all -nighter  in Blackpool ; right after necking on with a D.J who you’d hoped you’d marry one day and live in Ibiza.  Something like that.

It’s not at all like that, well not for me. The first two years were spent getting over the fact that I had partied through my thirties; you know when you’ve had a big session and only a two day hangover will see you through too until suicide Tuesday kicks in. Well like that, only this lasted two years. Then just as you acclimatise yourself to the ‘ New you’. You know; the usual stuff, a meal out is a party on your taste buds, dancing In the car is this year’s new festival, choosing curtains not cocktails. That type of thing. Then It hits you. Peri-menopause. You’re tired, grumpy, irrational and emotional. At first I thought it was my mind and body having the world’s biggest come down. It wasn’t.

I know I have previously shared my thoughts and feelings on how Lady M has affected my mind, relationship and sex drive. I haven’t shared the worst. As I hurtled towards my fortieth birthday I said the words to myself and my mirror that we all say on daily basis . God I am getting fat. I wasn’t. Fat? I was nine stone eight pounds. A little un-toned, but at five foot eight;  nine stone eight pounds, aged forty is/was pretty good going. How I wish that was the case now. I am now eleven stone & twelve pounds. Two stone heavier in eight years. But here’s the thing I don’t eat any more than I did then, if anything I eat more healthier, I never did any exercise then, unless you count raving and cleaning;  now I do a little, although not as much as I should,  and I drink less. What the hell is it? Why has my metabolism taken early retirement? Isn’t it enough that Lady M slowly stripped me of my self-confidence, assertiveness, sex drive and carefree attitude, s now she has taken away my ability to burn off fat……..

I don’t know about you but my Lady M is, in my mind a tall haughty women aged about 65, she’s as thin as a reed and doesn’t care what she says because what she has to say is, well  it is perfect at all times,  she’s very likeable (to others) and carries herself well. I hate her! or do i? I have decided that I am going to approach this next episode the same way I did with her in my battle with my mental health issues, this needs planning, precision and patience. Luckily for me, I am becoming a lot more patient as I grow older. I used to be a ‘do it now, and do it fast.’  I am a lot more pragmatic these days so I will not revert to type. Anyway judging from past experiences quick fixes don’t work…. I know that as I  recently tried a juice diet. Losing five pounds in a week then gaining ten back as I celebrated losing the five.  Seriously. Will I ever learn ? The answer to this, yes;  fingers crossed and mouth shut.

The only diet that gave me enduring results previously  was Slimming World. Its fab. It works. You do shift those pounds and eat well. If, and here is the thing, if you are not in a relentless battle with your hormones. Who by the way decided we had to have hormones??? They are accountable for your mind, body and; well body. And they can fight. Jesus they are to our form what Muhammed Ali was to the ring. They float around you like a butterfly and bloody well sting like a bee. Literally…I have blown up two stones from my bee sting. So fuck this. I am going into this fight like George Forman, I might not win but hey I’ll lose a few pounds during my tussle. Just like George Forman. Which co-incidentally is my lean, mean , healthy grilling machine.

I am going for the ‘ low carb’ approach. Now I hear you sigh and shout ‘what no potatoes!’  This is exactly what I said.  I love my carbs, bread is my lover,  potatoes my comfort blanket. Jesus I once took a baguette to a David Guetta gig. But the love affair is over.  (David, if you’re reading this, I wouldn’t say no to a bit of your baguette). However I need to rise up.  Without the yeast.  In my quest for thinness I researched all things for fat, menopausal women,  much like myself and the ‘low carb, high fat’ approach came up trumps. And to be fair I think the lack of carbs might control my trumps. If you pardon the pump. I am giving this a go. Well I have given it a go. Six weeks in and things are starting to work . I am 7llbs down. And counting,  I went out for Sunday lunch today and passed on the roast potatoes, said no to the mash, swerved all of  the sweet things.  So I am rising on  up …. or down if you believe the scales.



Time will pass you by.

Time is a funny thing isn’t. Here one minute, gone the next. Do any of you wonder what people really think of you? Do any of you wish you could be a ‘ fly on the wall’  I do constantly. But never more so than this last few weeks .  Why?  During the last few weeks I have never felt more vulnerable, exposed or raw. Like an open wound. I am not sure if this is circumstance, Lady M or medication, potentially a mixture of all three.  In my last blog, I described a day of mental meltdown. This time It was longer , and boy what a time it was.  I’ ll give you some context, if I was a godly person. These past few weeks would have felt  like a test. I am Noah, Mary and Eve all rolled into one.  As I am an atheist , it may have been some sort of evil witchery that  took over my soul. I am still not sure.  It has however been a time  of realisation, love and endurance.

My father in law died recently, we said farewell to him on a Monday after which I started to write this bog: after a pretty albeit short lived time that he spent in hospital, four weeks in total.  He is gone. And I am devastated. I won’t go into the details but a pretty routine operation for a really healthy, active, coherent man turned into misery. Rather than dwell on this and share the gory details of which my partners family would never thank me for, I will share this. As an adult I have experienced grief in many forms: aunties, uncles, grandparents , sister. Never has a death affected me like this. Honestly  I feel the loss.  He is missing and there is a gap no-one can fill. This is a new emotion to me as I have not yet experienced the feeling where someone being gone actually means that there is a missing part to the jigsaw. The pieces don’t quite fit anymore and we can’t complete the puzzle. We really need to ‘start again’. You might be asking yourself the question? I have. How can I have lost grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and more tragically a sister and never felt this loss. Honest answer… There was a lack of family values in my  brood, there was no ‘having each other backs’, no team work, not much real ‘love’.  Not a whiff  of dynasty. We just existed. The emotions I have for my in-law’s however are a different ball game. There are values, respect, loyalty, un-conditional love. And David my father in law. Had all of these and I adored him for it.

Un-conditional love that is not between parent and child is nearly non exist in this era. There are always boundaries, conditions, a need to comply, be at our best. Not with David. He accepted you; warts and all. And on the rare occasion he didn’t accept you, thankfully this was not me. You knew. He simply told you. Perfect. Don’t you think? In the whole ten years I knew him I received one piece of feedback. I replied to a question from Ian my partner. I can’t remember what it was, but my opinion was needed and I said, ‘ I don’t give a shit’. No biggie. Nothing too outrageous. David looked at me and said ‘ don’t be vulgar dear’. I’ve never felt so ashamed or humble. He said those word caringly, his unspoken message more powerful than the five words spoken. ‘Mollie don’t ever  lower your standards’. I loved him more that day than ever before. Why? The way he said those words was not critical, nasty and with no bad  intention meant. Just LOVE. He cared for me so much he didn’t want me to lower my standards.  And his opinion of me never altered. Un-conditional love. Shown with the greatest of respect.  If it wasn’t  for the fact that he hardly ever spoke two words he would’ve been the greatest inspirational speaker.

How is this relevant to my current battle with Lady M? Here Is my analogy, I can often come across as too direct, as I have previously mentioned I need to self-reflect in order to grow. In my career and day-to-day life I have to give and receive feedback.  I Steer my team through change and advise them where they/we are going wrong.  Normally, I am  able to this without issue. Normally; without Lady M’s intervention. Not anymore. I dissect each conversation, analyse every little bit of body language and chew over the detail again and again. It’s like my brain has been replaced with a Ferris wheel or waltzer. ‘Scream if you don’t want to go faster’. The combination of grief and changes within my workplace have culminated in a mini break down. I was screaming, but my brain went faster and faster,  round and round until I was so dis-oriented and I couldn’t cope. Thankfully now the ride has ended. For now. We are trained in my workplace to deal with change, change is almost BAU and I embrace it, normally. Only grief isn’t normal, this time my professional life was impacted ever so slightly, personally but more so indirectly. I am a wear your heart on the sleeve type of girl, I am all or nothing. The recent restructure of my department has been a struggle. In these times I  am the equivalent of the worst teacher you’ve ever had, not  a do as say but do as I do type of person. In addition to this I have not slept much over the past few months;  aside from David being poorly my sister was diagnosed with liver cancer just before Christmas, this has resulted in my brain becoming a little, (who I am kidding), a lot, un-wired. The thought of losing a sister and a father in law was a little too much. I remained optimistic, carried on regardless in work  and constantly advised my partner , ‘it was all going to be alright’. It isn’t, it wasn’t and it won’t be the same, ever.

I have been with partner for nearly 10 years and had never  before  have I  had such an emotional attachment to an in-law, quite like this. I will refrain from using the usual  adverbs, ‘he was like a father to me‘ because he wasn’t.  He was David. Quiet, respectable, reserved, musical, kind, honest and beautiful. And I loved him. I could never have told him directly, ‘ I love you ‘. That was not his style. The un-spoken word was his power, a wry smile his gift. We all say our loved ones are taken too soon, he wasn’t taken too soon, he was taken without dignity and this is the reason it was so distressing. He deserved better.  I am quite a confident person externally, loud and can be /is a little brash, rough around the edges let’s say. David, however  accepted me from day one, we had a relationship where no words were needed.  Ian and his mum are quite alike , love to go into detail of a tale and have a good old waffle. David rarely spoke, and that suited me just fine.  As our relationship developed we had a smile, a nod, a chuckle, sometimes at Ian and his mum fussing ; whilst we walked behind them, me silent, David humming a tune, most likely a  tune  from the fifties  that I would never had heard of. Aside from Nathan my son and Ian I have never experienced a relationship where silence  is golden, the inferred silence stronger than the din . And that’s gone.  And I miss him.

What’s this got to do with menopause? Probably nothing but the events before and after his funeral had huge implications. Just when I thought Lady M had dealt me her best hand. No sooner had I uttered the words. ‘ It can’t get worse than this ‘. IT DID.  Panic. Attack.  Separating that analogy I feel is a must. Because I was in a state of panic, then Lady M attacked. And boy did she attack.  She gave it to me.  She took me down, piece by piece, like al-Qaeda  on September 11th. Every piece of me was destroyed. Not once but twice. I crumbled. My whole nervous system a mass of rubble and wires, emotions exposed.  I had panic attacks, at the most inopportune time, when I should have been the strong one.  And the guilt I felt for being so weak was; is superlative. These panic attacks  decided to emerge at the precise moment I should have been my most durable self. The love of my life was not only coping with the grief of losing his dad, his mum normally a proud, sturdy women was  reduced to shadow of her former self;  his dynasty ripped to pieces. I had a panic attack, no actually I had two. And my wonderful, caring, selfless partner helped me through.  The first of these was on the Friday, 4 days before the funeral. I woke, logged on and started my working day. Ironically I had chosen to work from home, I don’t particularly enjoy working from home, however the chance to keep a ‘ watchful eye’ on my  partner was not to be missed.  Me keep an eye on him.  What a joke. I woke up, logged on, responded to e-mails, nothing new  here. I took a break, made two soft boiled eggs for breakfast/lunch; within an hour I was ill. I had the worst feeling in my tummy, chest and I couldn’t settle, cue sickness. I vomited. Think exorcist, head rotating, green bile, blood. Now I am not a dramatic person, never have been. I am one of those annoying women who enjoyed giving  birth; with absolutely no pain relief. I am calm personified.  But I vomited blood. Lots of blood. I could taste it. Imagine a punch in the mouth off Lennox Lewis and you might grasp the sensation. I called the doctors, calmly told the receptionist  the detail, he advised the doc would call me back. She did, she was lovely. Dr Care Bear (love-a –lot-bear) called me back within the hour. “Mollie, you’ve had several visits regarding your  bowels, stomach, vomiting.  Come to the surgery right now. I will see you in an hour”. Okay doke. That’s fine. Nothing to fret about. Then she called me back, her tone still caring; a little like she… well cared. “Mollie I think its best if you go hospital, I’ve called through and spoken to a colleague, so you’ve no need to worry,  you won’t have to sit with the plebs in A&E. They will admit you  immediately”. I was gutted, genuinely  worried. How could I tell this man, the man I love;  who had  just visited a hospital for the last six weeks every day, with the outcome being so incredibly cruel that I needed  to go back to one. The love of my life just lost his father, ever so cruelly to cancer and neglect; not but  one week ago and I needed to go back to a place he was struggling to trust.  Off  we went, Ian came with me. Upon registration, I fainted, dropped to the floor, couldn’t see, couldn’t walk, thought my heart was going to pop. After a time on a ward involving being  ECG’D, bloods tested, bum inspected, tubes  inserted. I was allowed home. That wonderful man sat with me , held me, loved me, told me all would be ok, and explained to the doctor that I had just lost my father-in-law ( HIS DAD) and it had been a stressful time. I’ll love him forever for that. Now I know and  understand how he pulled burning bodies from buildings and still manages to sleep.

Again you’re all probably thinking what’s this got to do menopause? My partner just read this and said pretty much the same thing. “Love you need to link this back to menopause, keep it current.” I will, I am, stay with me. I have experienced sudden death before. My sister died five years ago. Liver failure due to alcoholism. I was estranged from her from for many years. As a family we all were.  Upon the tragic un-timely departure of her, I was there.  All of the family were, of course why wouldn’t we be? You don’t stop loving someone just because they are an addict. However, you de-sensitise yourself from them. You banish their right to hurt you anymore. Resilience  is key. Until they die. Selfish as they are. When my sister died,  I hadn’t seen or heard from her for years, but when you get that call. You just go. And I did. And even though I am youngest of five, it was left to me, and my darling partner to be there when she took her last breath;  left to us to register the death. The registrar telling us, albeit sympathetically, but ever so formally, “the death certificate will have to say cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol poisoning”. Did I cry? No. I just got on with it. Did I cry when I had to go the funeral parlour, sort out what clothes she would wear and what make up she might want. No. I had to do  this. Carol left behind , four kids, one grandchild and an ex-husband none of whom were available to do this. It was me given this task. Why? I don’t know. Mum wasn’t able, brother lives away and her children too young.  So I did. The comparative difference to the care and consideration that was put into dear David’s funeral really hits home to me now,  the disparity  yet similarity of these two events heart-breaking.  Only I didn’t realise it at the time.  Has the menopause made me less resilient, more emotional , more caring? Is this the reason I wept, had panic attacks, couldn’t sleep during David’s demise. Or is it that the menopause has made me appreciate life more, value others , love more,  despite the fact they might make mistakes, and say or display that they ‘couldn’t give a shit’. Or maybe I have now learnt to be a little like David and although whilst caring  I approach it with eloquence and class. I hope so. I didn’t cry much during the awful time of my sister’s  illness: if at all. I cried bucket loads during David’s loss. I will never know for certain if this is due to the fact I am more hormonal, weak and prone to breakdowns due to my menopause. But one things for certain it isn’t because I care any less. That is just life. Time will pass you by.