ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET
The menopause, mood swings and me by Anne Bonson-Johnson
A bloodless coup has taken place, I’m menopausal and furious about it.
It didn’t help that the doc was casual when he broke the news. He pushed back in his chair, dropped his pen on the blotter, gave me this patronising smile that said as clearly as the screeching beginning in my head, “well my dear, it’s all over for you”. Unfortunately, he waited a few annoying beats too long before remembering his professional duty to ask “So how does this make you feel?”... At which point, my vision went blank and I swear I almost smashed his smug patriarchal head into the nicely arranged desk and bloodied his blotter. That good doctor, is how it made me feel.
Fantasy acts of violence and a few blood tests aside though, it didn’t take medicine’s finest to bust it to my pals what they’d known for ages - that their formerly happy-go-lucky chum had morphed into this fiercely unpredictable creature, as likely to snap bones as to smile and wave.
No one told me it would be like this… in fact, no one told me about it at all – not one of those fabulous women in my life or in the spotlight of world fame. And why would they? It’s our embarrassing secret, to be hidden away, played-down or joked about along with all those other icky nasties that happen to women… periods, smear tests and PMT.
Except this feels far worse somehow. Me saying “I’m menopausal” is like ‘fessing up to being an unviable female – unegged and unfanciable. The self-destruct sequence has initiated, the count down begun, and I might as well slope off to the place reserved for all aged crones… I’m in the metaphorical kitchen at parties, doing the washing up and raging that no one has taken out the empties or mopped up the puke. I’m not the one being flirted with in the hall.
But the thing is, perhaps women did whisper it to me and I just wasn’t listening hard enough. I was too busy taking my wonderful eggs for granted and not wanting to identify with that monstrous hairy-legged stereotype … the fairy story where on the chimes of midnight, my uterus shrivels to a barren husk and Magicaboola!, I pee my pants and suddenly sprout hairs from my chinny chin chin.
But the thing is, perhaps women did whisper it to me and I just wasn’t listening hard enough. I was too busy taking my wonderful eggs for granted and not wanting to identify with that monstrous hairy-legged stereotype...
We’re always told it’s rude to ask a lady’s age, because god forbid, we might actually find out she’s over the hill in patriarchal terms and we all know how the old song goes ‘… keep young and beautiful if you wanna be loved’. It’s still a man’s world and women in and out of the workplace know that this being loved business is about not letting one grey hair show to keep place and pace with men who haven’t been served this unfair biological writ. Just look at all the fantastic women booted off the BBC when the wrinkled likes of John Humphries and Jeremy Paxman are still powering around and ready for their close-ups.
Menopause is a seismic event not to be dismissed with the wave of an often-male hairy knuckled hand. It’s a life stage and the withdrawal from a drug so powerful that it has shaped the very essence of who we are. What it’s not is an aging issue, a negative to be tossed discreetly into the bin along with the tissues used to mop up your first hot flush. It’s an issue for women of all ages and needs us to bring it powering out into the light for its great rebranding.