It was (local best friend) Anna’s Birthday coming up and I have to say I quite envied her youthfulness. Her birthday still began with a 3! Ok she was going to be 39 but the all important first digit was still a 3!! My birthday is just after Christmas and this year I’d been feeling even more dread than normal at the thought of it. My Birthdays now start with a 4 and have done so for a little while. But anyway I needed to put my birthday angst aside so we could get on and celebrate Anna’s. This year she wanted to go for a ‘lovely autumnal’ walk and have a pub dinner with me and her best friend from Uni – Tash. As much as I love Anna, I can just about manage a couple of hours of Tash if alcohol is included. I can’t even insert a joke here about her name corresponding to her upper lip because she’s not mistashey at all – dang. You may understand what I mean and not lurve your best friend’s best friend from Uni??
Tash is a GP and lives in Lincoln. Tash is – let’s say ebullient, full of unrelenting enthusiasm and gung ho-ness. She’s a chess champion, regularly goes handgliding and also plays lacrosse which she is super good at it – is it like Quidditch?? She’d be good at that too. And definitely in Gryffindor House!
My mother had also picked up on my downess of late and held me to inquisition during a routine skype call. Awks.
“You really do seem quite grumpy at the moment, is it the children?” she observed irritably much like you’d be annoyed by a wasp at a picnic. She always assumes that any problems arise from my kids or my modern parenting.
“I’m fine Mum,” I mumbled unconvincingly. That was the trouble with Skype – I couldn’t get away with feigning jolliness (or emptying the dishwasher) while looking at her chin on the screen – she of course got a full head shot of my ill disguised miserableness.
“I think you’re just feeling sorry for yourself! Buck up darling, have you painted the spare room yet? That’ll give you a boost,” WTF? “And it would make it more pleasant for your father and I when we visit at Christmas, which reminds me, shall we bring the Amuse Bouche for the big day!”
My mother loves christmas and she always brings the effing Amuse Bouche/starters. Usually something really ‘grown up’ like mini reindeer steaks or worse- gazpacho. And when the kids baulk at eating Rudolph or cold soup my mother actually wonders why ….. She insists that we have a ‘selection of puddings’ (according to her preference) so she brings a homemade trifle which is so laden with sherry that it would blow up if it got too close to the lit Christmas Pudding.
“Well?”My mother insisted. A disembodied voice could be heard from her moving chin.
“Well what? ”
“Why are you feeling so mis then?” My mum thinks its acceptable to say mis instead of miserable – it isn’t, she sounded irritated, “Is it writer’s blockage?”
“Errm, I’m not quite sure, maybe because…..” God I don’t know – was it the run up to Christmas? The pressure of making the costume for the fourth sheep on the left? The threat of doing 4 hours involuntary service at the PFA Christmas ‘Bizarre’? The early darkness and shorter days? The cold and driving rain? The compulsion to stockpile Lidls Stollen and eat all the Christmas Pringles well before the end of November and other British problems? I don’t know, I just felt low. Hashtag not allowed!
“Get yourself a sad lamp and some echinacea and for goodness sake snap out of it before Christmas Eve, must dash I’ve got Bridge now.”
So there we have it. Snap out of it! Buy a SAD daylight lamp and paint your spare room -wise words for anyone like me who was feeling a bit sh*tty. I’m hoping my Mum wasn’t going to offer her voluntary services at a local Christmas Soup Kitchen over the festive period. Unfortunately I could imagine her bustling in as a helper and suggesting gazpacho as a ‘nice change’. She’d try to ween long term drug users off class A’s and onto Murray Mints and force them to learn how to play Bridge whilst telling homeless people to buck up! Of course she would be told to buck off herself and rightly so.
Bored of effing autumn leaf shots – well here’s another one!
So, anyway back to Anna and her birthday. Last Saturday we set out with Tash on our ‘lovely autumnal walk’ which emcompassed a pretty (National Trust owned) stretch of woods before arriving at an estuary side pub with a roaring fire and gastro menu. And as we walked I asked myself what autumn means to me? Did I b*ll*x! Course I didn’t but in the interest of writing this post, imagine that I did (I was probably mostly visualising the dinner I would consume with lashings of Prosecco). At least the walk was fairly uneventful – with no children in our party we were spared the following – a Pooh Sticks altercation where a twig was thrust in one tweenagers eye by another tweenager. A plethora of wet socks from predictably overzealous puddle jumps and a myriad of face planting incidents resulting from bastard slippery leaves.
There was still the unavoidable you know I’m damp but you’ll still sit on me – you tw*t bench.
The forlorn and lost article of clothing left behind. Lost my arse!
And shuffling through leaf covered dog sh*t while Tash droned on about handgliding off the Breacon Beacons, but at last we finished the (frankly unnecessary in my opinion) ‘lovely autumnal walk’.
Thank eff for that!
At the pub I glugged on a large glass of Prosecco. Anna went to the loo, which filled me with dread! What was with all this dread? I didn’t want to be left alone with ebullient Tash. I jumped up and made like I was going to read the specials board and waited for Anna to return before I sat back down at the table with them.
“So what’s the matter with you then Hillie,” commented Tash unceremoniously, “You’ve got a face like a five day old Morrison’s halibut,”
“Yeah, you’ve defo been a miserable cow of late,” colluded Anna, as she plonked herself back down.
“I’m fine,” I said, looking at them as if they were the idiots. Attack is the best form of defence you know!!
“She doesn’t seem herself,” Tash said to Anna.
“No, she doesn’t does she,” Anna concurred.
“I’ll get us some more drinks,” suggested Anna, thinking of a bona fide solution and left the table.
Tash fixed me with a stare.
“Come on – what gives?” she ordered. I’m glad I’m not one of her patients.
“I’m fine, and this is Anna’s night out,” I reminded her.
“Yes, but she’s worried about you, so you may as well say what’s on your mind.”
I stalled a moment because I could see Anna bringing one of the drinks over.
“Ok,” I conceded, “I’ve been feeling weird recently, like I’ve been going a bit mad.”
“Go on,” said Tash.
“I feel pissed off, my head feels like its full of crap and…..” mumbling I added, ” I’m getting hot flushes and palpitations.”
“You’re far to young to get hot flushes! I keep telling you to shut the door on your woodburner,” chided Anna.
“Any other symptoms?” enquired Tash slipping into GP mode while slurping deeply on her glass of wine.
“Yes, I feel like a dozy tw*t most of the time.”
“Hmm, I think I have an idea what it could be,” said Tash knowingly.
“Dozy Tw*ts disease?” suggested Anna helpfully.
“Hmmm, yes. I think you’re peri, yes you might well be peri…….”
“Peri what?” I interrupted.
Perilously pitiful? Perry from Kevin and Perry i.e moody and monosyllabic?
“Peri-menopausal. Basically the bit or should I say long drawn out bit where your body moves towards menapause. Symptoms include, anxiety, hot flushes, depression, palpitations, night sweats, lack of libido and in Hillie’s case – brain fog.”
“Doesn’t sound very appealing and you’re only 42,” squeaked Anna!
“Don’t worry Anna, we’re in our thirties and so a way off being perimenopausal,” Tash replied.
Oh that’s ok then!
Tash went on to elaborate, “It’s your body’s way of adjusting from the more fertile years into the next phase of your life, but it causes your oestrogen levels to change and fluctuate, hence the low mood. It can take a while and be quite a drawn out process. Some women are more affected by it than others. ”
“Bloody marvellous,” I said but it all made a lot of sense.
“You may be affected by the darker days – known as Seasonal Affective Disorder too, although research does not actually confirm this is a disorder” advised Tash before telling me to visit my GP and get a sad lamp (no harm in a bit of extra light).
“Make an appointment with Dr Garry,” said Anna, “and you know I’m always here to talk to!” she added reaching for the menu and perusing it. I looked at the menu too for something comforting.
“Hmm, here’s a main course you might like Hillie,” Anna pointed at the menu “How about the Peri Peri (menopausal) chicken,” she quipped.
As you were!
More next week.
PS, If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog post – talk to a friend, see a health care profesh and buy a sad lamp which you can get from somewhere like Dunelm Mills but if you’d like to try a SAD daylight simulating lamp I’d recommend a specialised retailer. Perhaps you’re the right age to be/feel peri peri-menopausal, feel free to anecdote on down in comments.
PS, this is a work of fiction, therefore all mistakes of any kind are my own. I thank you.