Her & 'The Change' In Me

One show-One woman- Four voices of the Menopause

After the first night of the show, Her and The Change in Me. At Upstairs at the Western in Leicester, I couldn’t help smiling to myself

Even though I was panicking I would run out of fuel. Do you know I could not find one garage on the A14 opened Essex bound. As each promising light in the distance failed to meet my needs, I cursed and reprimanded my self as to why I was in this position – Again. 

It’s all about preparation, you know making sure everything is in place with nothing to possibly add. The feeling that you’ve got this, that you’ve done everything possible to avoid any dilemmas. It occurred to me this is what the show is about. Everything has to be prepared. The script cooking in my unconscious, whilst the conscious waited patiently for it to present itself. Believe me that was no picnic, it took a constant battle not to submit to brain fog. Everyday whilst writing, I would make my self write something. Even if it was a scrap of an idea, preparing for the arrival of a creme brûlée blow out. Just seeing it teasingly expose itself in my handwriting enveloped in fog, gave me momentum. 

At one point I stopped writing and spent a night on Amazon, picking out items for the doctor and the judge. This, seemed to delight whatever was going on in my brain, as when the props arrived my writing started to flow. I had something tactile, I could see doctor Meena Poors and Judge Eunice. They were becoming real. Dolly Slatemen was left on purpose till the end, she is like an old friend now and I knew we could pick up where we left off. Once the script came together and the alter egos were all starting to inflate the armbands of their one dimensions, I then had to learn my lines. 

For me, this is when the power struggle with brain fog really erupts. There is nothing more tempting when trying to learn a one hour show, than logging onto social media and believing the world is demanding your presence. Somewhere, in my head I have persuaded myself this is imperative! I now understand, how close humans are to fruit flies. Not only in their DNA, but also attention span. Just as I would start to learn a part of the show, I would just drift off to Facebook and then my attention was forced to look at instagram and then twitter. (You can see where this going right) Eventually, I sat at my desk and drew the whole show out in pictures. 

It was the best thing I ever did. 

Thats what the menopause does, it makes you regroup. There is a need to have a conversation with yourself. Think about how different techniques can be applied, to achieve an outcome that you know you are capable of. I thoroughly enjoyed those two days producing images that could remind me of what to do and say. I was in control, at the time I had no understanding how intrinsic the drawings would be to Her and The Change in Me. Not only had I created a device that allowed me to stick two fingers up at brain fog, they revealed on paper what is in my mind. I now realise some part of me is trying to help me understand who I am, and its not the next Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926)

I knew that grade C in my Art O’level would come in handy one day. 

I never liked the idea of being overly organised, in my younger days the rebel in me would resist the world of predictability. I used to be proud of my ability to multi task achieving complex things spontaneously. Like pushing my mum in a wheelchair whilst she pushed my youngest in his pushchair. Fast forward to the present, my mum is no longer here and my son is pushing himself around in his own car. I on the other hand, now crave being organised. Because it frees me up to do more things I want. Not only does it ease my mind that everything is in order. It also contributes to the plausibility of what I am trying to achieve. “And what’s that then Debbie”? I hear myself ask. To spread the word about the menopause. Just talking about it, will lay foundations in the heads of women yet to experience this natural transition. As a collective voice, we need to build blocks of preparation for future communities. Give others the heads up, discuss ways to prepare by educating each-other. Offer assurances that only the voice of experience can. I really was not expecting this post to turn out the way it has, it’s just that there is so much more that can be done and as a collective it will get done a lot quicker. 

A newspaper article on the Menopause

When you go on holiday and read about the menopause.

I am unsure whether it is me who is responsible for conversations about the menopause popping up, or there is a trend towards women of all ages discussing it with greater ease than previous generations. This Christmas period I flew to Lanzarote with Jet 2 Holidays. What a great experience, not only for the holiday itself with Jet 2, but the actual time of the year. We celebrated New Years Eve in the sun and returned to old Blighty with Christmas decorations still sprinkled around town. It felt like a very long holiday, in a good way. Now, I could bang on about how good the service was from Jet 2 and the Rubicon Palace, but this is not a travel blog.

On the flight I met an air stewardess who seemed to be getting one hot sweat after the other, I must quickly add she was not complaining. I could just tell it was happening, call it Menopause telepathy if you like. Or, that I’ve had so many now I spot an advocate miles away.  She noticed the Guardian supplement discussing the menopause in my hand, and this quickly led to a  conversation about the symptoms a woman has. I was a little taken back, as she appeared a lot younger than myself.  I couldn’t help but ask had she been to see anyone medically.  She said she had and was told because her periods hadn’t stopped she wasn’t in the menopause. What many young women and it appears GPs for that matter, do not know is  the peri menopause can happen up to ten years before you stop your cycles. This time is crucial to future health, as it is then women should start to embark on a healthier life style. You know when you start to accept a glass of wine is not one of our five a day.

It was soon revealed that her mum had also gone through an early menopause and was still getting symptoms. It was something she obviously had knowledge of, which unfortunately as many of us know is not the norm.  As we chatted intermittently via her duties as an air stewardess, I noticed that she kept pulling at the delicate scarf around her neck. I asked what was the material, after inspection we both agreed that it was some kind of polyester mix. Polyester is a synthetic type of material, basically rather than absorbing sweat, it allows perspiration to build up inside the garment. Now when you are having a hot flush or sweat or what ever you want to call it, you basically feel as though you are being boiled alive. So this is the last type of material you want any where near your person. Think of it like when you were a teenager and you want to loose some weight and someone says to you why don’t you put on a black bin bag and go jogging. You will loose loads. Yes, I can admit. Guilty as charged.

So my plea is for employers, wherever you are? Please consider us womenfolk when designing and ordering uniforms or workwear. No, take that back. My plea is to women everywhere. If you are uncomfortable in the work wear that is issued because of its material, tell your employer. It’s not about being a pain in the backside, it’s about sharing the issue and making yourself and others more comfortable.  Not only physically but mentally, the more we dilute the subject of the menopause and its connotations the happier people will be.

Think about it, work staff will be more productive because firstly they have been considered and secondly they will not be distracted (as much) with hot flushes and the embarrassment this can cause. It is a simple request to look at the materials being used in the garments and adjust accordingly. When you imagine how much a small neck scarf can affect someones comfort, the mind boggles when you consider a pair of nylon trousers.

A Menopause thing….

With days turning into nightmares, I’m loving myself less. I really can’t find the funny in this miserable mess. Anxiety and stress with breast tenderness, that’s without the hassle, of trying to get into the new dress.

A bloated belly stuck watching the telly, I sip at my glass of wine. Why didn’t my mother tell me of this future that is not that sublime?

I remember with nostalgia a cycle once a month, now I’ve got more identity issues than president Trump!

Weight gain and joint pain and too many moments on the lips, have now turned these… things into horrendous sized hips.

Not even a spinning class can make it disappear. Eating sugar has become the ultimate fear. You’re sweating your load whilst your head wants to explode. I can’t believe it.

I’ve forgotten the gym code

Puberty and pregnancy are up for general debates. Yet mention the menopause… that’s just for your mates.

Out with the girls talking about vaginal dryness, it happens to most.

Even her Highness?

Dryness of the vagina is an area of taboo. Yet we can talk about contraception and going to the loo. Jenny Eclair has gone up in my esteem, it’s great to see a woman give one for the team.

Body odor changes and that’s just the start, at least it takes your mind off the desire to fart. Irregular pounding heartbeat, who the hell knew? This would happen nightly… whilst sweating too. Whipping of your clothes in an extravagant manner! Only to tell him  you can’t, because of the bladder.

After some time of thinking nothing can be done, and social media is the only fun. Conversations about the menopause start to flow and your beginning to realise you are not an old crow. It’s a natural process that happens to all and the days get brighter and you don’t feel so small.

So, put on your glad rags and put some lipstick on. Do some research and sing a different song. Ask others about it just don’t suffer alone, look on social media or pick up a phone!

IMG_1604Have you met my skin and blister?

For those that don’t know that’s

My little sister.

Jumping out of bedroom windows, nicking fags while mum played bingo.

Dancing at discos to Hall and Oates, always ahead of me in her taste of coats.

To be honest fashion was never my thing, but she is still there to tell me what to bring.

I’ve borrowed her clothes and makeup to boot.

She just raises an eyebrow,

“Don’t worry it’s old toot”

Within minutes I feel like a brand new woman. With her wardrobe on my back, back in the day I could be pulling.

We are two very different people, from the root of the same tree.

And she has never done anything to disappoint me.

In good times and bad she’s always been there, a shoulder to cry on and a gracious air.

Over the years families have grown, making new trees and sprouting our own.

We have had our share of rollercoasters, both emotional and fun.

She is always there for me when the day is done. Even when purse strings have been tight and I’ve wrestled with solutions throughout the night.

For her family comes first and without hesitation she is able to disburse…….

Any fears and worries that I’ve had.

After a conversation with her,

they don’t feel that bad.

She is the strength in our family tree and that’s why I know her fridge is always open for me. 😜

I love you little sis with all my heart and not a day goes by that I would want to restart.

We’ve had laughs and tears along the way and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the words you manage to say.

Whether it’s a word of warning or a pat on the back.

I always feel at peace, and back on track.

You are the moon to my stars and I’m so grateful to say, Happy birthday little sis, my best friend in every way.

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