After eight years Jenny Éclair says she is emerging from the menopause, not like a beautiful butterfly, but like a ‘new me’. It sounds like a positive new normal as she transitions into a new stage of our lives. Her book adds a positive menopausal spin as she shares in these soundbites.
Surviving the menopause, it seems, is all about seeing the positives.
Recognise there is room for everyone make more time to be supportive of other women than when we were younger
“As a younger woman fighting hard for my career I wasn’t as supportive of other women as I should have been because I was jealous of them. This jealousy was badly exacerbated by the nature of the business I was in. In the 1980s and 1990s the world of women in comedy was very competitive: if one of us made it through the magic door into Successville, it often meant the door was swiftly slammed shut behind them for a good while after. There was very little equality in terms of balancing the sexes on screen and sadly, back then, when a fellow lady stand-up struck it lucky, I couldn’t help feeling it would be at my expense: she had won, therefore I had lost. All that guff is over now. I have neither the time nor the inclination to be petty; there’s room for everyone — we all just need to budge up a bit.”
More Shared Experiences
“Menopausal women have a great deal of shared experience. All of us will have weathered our own private storms, battled our own demons and known our own crushing disappointments. I think this makes us nicer to each other. We recognise the struggle in each other’s lives — we know what it’s like to try to juggle everything and how it feels when we keep dropping the balls.”
As well as your hormones having a meltdown so does your metabolism.
“Everything begins to take its toll. You can’t so much as look at a lump of cheese without the top button flying off your trousers, suddenly a sip over three small glasses of wine and you wake up the next day feeling like someone ran you over in the night and, to top it all, your hormones go into some kind of biological meltdown.”
Just when your hormones are raging you find you have to take more responsibility, from handling teenagers to parents.
“It can be very daunting realising that you may have to take on some responsibility for your parents, when up until now you’ve secretly harboured the thought that if the worst came to the worst, you could always run home to Mummy and Daddy and they’d kiss it all better. Now it’s you who has to kiss everything better, and the problems you’re faced with in midlife tend to be the big ones — the life-and-death ones, the ones you don’t have any answers for, and certainly not the ones that can be kissed better. You are the “responsible adult”, the one who should know the name of the family solicitor and whether your parents want to be resuscitated, buried or cremated.”
More Sexual Obscurity
For some women the old adage that you become invisible in middle age is an issue, for others like Jenny it ‘it marks the end of getting a load of unnecessary attention. She sees sliding into sexual obscurity as a silver lining, although she also does speak about Me Too.
“When #MeToo was gathering speed I had to really rack my brains to think of occasions when I had been sexually harassed, and if I’m honest I could count them on the fingers of one hand. But for my mate Julie, who from 15 to 50 could barely get on any mode of public transport without being ogled (bosoms, you see)”
More Freedom to Look However You Like
Rather than letting yourself become invisible this is a time to take steps to me make yourself visible.
“For some women the menopause is a cue to introduce some eccentricity into their wardrobes. This is when some of us will hear the call of purple feathered hats and velvet cloaks, great big brooches and colourful tights, and my message to you is: go for it. Life is too short not to look however you like.”
More Time To Be Who You Are
“Lets be honest, by time you hit menopause the ageing process has given you the time and experiences to know who you are. This is when, deep down, you finally know your own mind. You know which flowers you really like and that even buying a small bunch of them will make you feel like a queen; you know whose company you enjoy and whom you are best avoiding.”
More Good Times
One of the best ways to survive the menopause is to adapt and enjoy life. Instead of being angry and anxious embrace new things that make you happy.
“Last year our young neighbours had a party that spilt out into the garden, and it was approaching 9am by the time the last bodies had crawled indoors. Meanwhile, I was up and dressed and coming downstairs for breakfast, and as time passed, I could feel how terrible they were feeling through the walls — no one on their side of the wall stirred for the entire day. I, on the other hand, did some yoga, a line of tapestry (the new cocaine), smashed a boiled egg onto some avocado toast and went to see the Van Gogh exhibition at Tate Britain. Now that’s what I call having a good time.”
Jenny describes many menopausal fraught times in her book, being gripped by fear and anxiety, feeling itchy, your temper and one of the hardest thing for her to control was anger. But as she shares there are so many ways to experience life differently and become the happy new you.
Jenny Eclair 2020. Extracted from Older and Wider: A Survivor’s Guide to the Menopause by Jenny Eclair, to be published on July 2