Monthly Archives: April 2019

Off camera

We went away for a few days over the Easter hols. We stayed in a cabin/lodge in Sherwood Forest, with trees all around us, birdsong, squirrels, even a lone stag one morning, and peace and quiet. We were 2 minutes cycle from the Sherwood Pines Country Park where we had the choice of cycle trails and were in the thick of the beautiful forest. I took some pics and posted them on Instagram. They are lovely pictures of a beautiful place.

But what they don’t show is the other stuff. Don’t get me wrong – we had a LOVELY time and the pictures are genuine and real and reflect the time that we had. BUT, they don’t show the puncture that T had and the ensuing debate about how he looks after his bike (not well) and how he needs to be a bit more careful. It was all borne of frustration and irritation that what was a fab bike ride was rudely interrupted by the hassle of fixing it, in the forest. Luckily, K is very well prepared and equipped for such eventualities and had it sorted in no time. We had our packed lunch while we were waiting for it to dry. It was fine. Well, not completely fine, a bit annoying but these things happen.

They also don’t show the kids spending almost as much time in their rooms in the evening as they do at home. This is also fine, but not quite what I had envisaged. We had a hot tub on our deck which we were all excited to use and I had daydreamed about us all sitting out there in the evenings and it being a bit of a laugh. We did the first night, and it was a laugh. But the second and third nights the blinking thing wasn’t hot enough (cold tub) and we had to get it repaired. (They were very good and have refunded us a good amount for the inconvenience of not having it for 2 of the 4 nights – with no prompting). Hence, the kids were more inclined to spend time in their rooms rather than watch TV or play scrabble with K and I (I beat him the first two games we played and he refused to play again).

They also don’t show T’s chain coming off on Thursday when we were heading off to another country park for a 15 miler. (Why is it always him?). K was convinced something had snapped off his bike and we would not be able to go anywhere – albeit much less calmly than that sounds. Disappointment on my part, I don’t like plans changing. But luckily, the helpful bloke at the cycle centre sorted it and, although he was restricted to staying in 3 gears and it will need a proper fix now we are home, we were able to do our planned ride.

They also don’t show the disappointment I felt when K said he didn’t want to cycle anywhere on our last day because his legs and bum hurt (I had found a brilliant National Trust place ten miles from where we were staying that we could have cycled round for a few hours before heading home). Remember – I don’t like it when my plans are changed! But in hindsight, he was quite right that it would have been too hot and I was very glad we opted to go elsewhere for a short walk and picnic on the lawns. Much better than getting all hot and sweaty before travelling 2 hours home. I hate it when he’s right.

They don’t show me waking up ridiculously early, knowing that the others would be asleep for hours, sitting reading my book and eating my breakfast on my own, forcing myself not to make the packed lunches or put away the washing up because I’d made a huge point about it being My Holiday Too, needing to get in the shower so I could apply my gel afterwards (which should be done around the same time each day – usually 7am at home) but not wanting to disturb K who deserved a lie in, but resenting him a bit for being able to sleep for SO LONG.

So, although they say that the camera never lies, it doesn’t show everything. Ninety percent of the break was lovely, relaxing, fun, enjoyable, what I’d hoped. But that other ten percent makes me feel a little bit of a fraud, a bit of a FaceBragger (one of the reasons why I left FaceBook) for posting pictures that make it seem idyllic. Almost but not quite.

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Another version of me

  1. Feeling like you can’t keep a thought in your head for more than a few moments before it wafts away out of reach.
  2. Feeling like you can’t cope with the smallest thing going wrong.
  3. Feeling like your head is going to explode with all the stuff that is going round in it, even though most of the time you can’t keep a thought in your head (see 1.)
  4. Not wanting to be seen but wondering why you seem invisible.
  5. Questioning your decisions when you used to be confident.
  6. Feeling anxious about things that you would have never been concerned about before.
  7. Wondering if people can see that you are anxious.
  8. Making mistakes because you can’t concentrate.

It sounds like I am describing some sort of mental health issue doesn’t it?

But, combine these feelings with: joint pain, hearing loss in one ear, tinnitus, sleeplessness, irritability, weight gain, tiredness at strange times and a whole host of other symptoms and you have in front of you a peri-menopausal woman who thinks she is falling physically apart and going mad.

Thankfully, I have a lovely doctor who assured me I wasn’t going mad, wasn’t depressed, but was entering a phase of my life which changes things irrevocably. I won’t feel like the old me any more: I will feel like another version of me.

This other version of me has been prescribed an oestrogen gel which I rub into my upper arms each morning and it helps to alleviate some of the symptoms. They are not all going to go away overnight – that would expecting miracles – but there are things I can do to help some of them. I have been reading up on this a lot and am astonished at the number of ailments that result from the peri-menopause. Why aren’t we told this? Why is no-one telling employers about this? Why is it still seen as something to joke about – hot flushes (I rarely have them) and Black Cohosh? It’s not funny and we certainly should not “just get on with it”. Yes, generations of women have “just got on with it” but they weren’t told it could be different. In times gone by, a lot of women would have been admitted to an asylum because they were sent “mad” from the symptoms.

Like every other stage of my life, I am going to try and make the best of it. I am going to take all the advice I can get. I can going to nourish my dry skin; treat my coarse dry hair to a nice conditioner; I am going to go for long walks every day (work and weather permitting) to help strengthen my bones: I am going to take better care of myself.

But mostly I am not going to berate myself for having a bad day – there have been plenty and there will be plenty more. I’ve talked to K, T and A about it, told my mum, spoken to my boss (who was incredibly supportive and understanding) and I am telling my friends as and when I see them. It hasn’t been easy – I am not very comfortable talking about things that are private, my feelings (weirdly, it’s much easier to put it all down on virtual paper), but I am not embarrassed and will not make excuses or apologise. If I want to weep because, well, just because I need to, then I will weep. If I am having a bad day and can’t face the world I will stay at home and not face the world*. Friends will understand, unless they are lucky enough not to experience any of this. I am going to allow my family to make me cups of tea and cook dinner from time to time. I am not going to feel bad about shoving something ready made in the oven when I can’t face making a meal from scratch. I don’t have to do it all, all the time. This other version of me is going to have to learn to let go of the reins sometimes and sit back and let others do it. And it’s not selfish or self-indulgent, it’s necessary.

So, another chapter begins. Here’s to the journey ahead.

* A lot of women are struggling to go to work and do the job they have done for years because of brain fog and anxiety. I know I am VERY fortunate to be able to work from home and I hugely appreciate it. Equally I am incredibly lucky to have a very understanding boss. Others are not so lucky.

Great advice and info here
https://www.menopausedoctor.co.uk/
https://megsmenopause.com/

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