That, for me, has been the miracle of menopause. The only significant symptom I had prior to its (relatively early) onset was a few years of alarming hot sweats, but even those were perfectly handleable: they gave my friends and kids something to laugh at, and I don’t actually really mind being hot.
So when, on Sunday, some dude came knocking at my door asking for my old gold and silver (because I have a lot of that just, you know, lying around), and I experienced the kind of screaming rage that quite honestly would get most people sectioned, I didn’t think for a moment I was premenstrual. Why would I? I haven’t had a period for well over a year.
Once my heart rate had returned to normal and I’d coaxed all the animals back up from the bottom of the garden, I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, Trace, that was a bit extreme. Poor man!’ I laughed a bit (guiltily) at the memory of the whites of his eyes as he backed away from the front door, hands up in self-defence. Then I forgot about it because I had other things to think about, like the Sunday Times crosswords.
But then I read a story in the paper about, oh, I can’t remember, an abused dog or a foetus left on a rubbish heap or a shack settlement burning to the ground or a family killed in a car accident or one of those other gazillions of dreadful things that happen all around us all the time, and which we can’t invest too much emotion in individually or we’d go stark staring crazy, and I burst into frankly hysterical tears. I sat at the verandah table and sobbed lavishly, causing my animals to once again slink away to places where there were no inexplicable outbursts of inappropriate emotion.
Once I’d mopped up about a litre of snot and hung the newspaper out to dry, I thought to myself, ‘Gosh, Trace, that was a bit extreme! Pull yourself together!’ I laughed a bit (embarrassedly) and thanked god I didn’t have people over for lunch. Then I forgot about it because I had other Sunday-type things to do, like tending of plants and perusals of books and cleanings-out of the tupperware cupboard.
But then I:
• stubbed my baby toe, with eye-squinching, brain-starring agony, on a stool, something I haven’t done in (oh!) about 18 months;
• dropped a single tupperware container five times while just trying to put it on the goddamn kitchen counter;
• couldn’t get the faaahking total of tupperware bottoms and tops to match, even though I went through the whole process of matching them all about eight times, and threw away about a ton of each in the process;
• inadvertently pulled over a pot plant while trying to reposition it to get more sun, spreading black soil all over the living room;
• not only simply dropped a glass, but actually smashed it spectacularly against the fridge door while trying to hold it and extract a bottle of orange juice at the same time; and
• while trying to hang out a load of clean washing, stepped in dogshit, hit my head on the whirligig laundry line, tore a pair of beloved pants and fell over a bloody fucking cat.
‘Gosh!’ I thought to myself, putting a plaster on my toe and my head, sweeping up glass and soil, and apologising to the cat, ‘if I didn’t know better, I’d think I was premenstrual!’
By Sunday evening I’d developed two zits so vivid in hue and so painful in location (outer nostril and inner eyebrow) that I felt I should be either displayed in an art gallery or admitted to an operating theatre. Also: my boobs were sore, my eyes were scratchy, I had a metallic taste in my mouth, and I had such an intense chocolate craving that I sucked the coatings off an open packet of long-abandoned (and rather fluffy) chocolate-covered raisins that some sadistic person had given my kids for Christmas. It took me about 2 hours and I estimate the total amount of chocolate ingested was the equivalent of 2 squares of a Cadbury’s bar. But it was worth it, okay?!
I was – understandably, I think – completely exhausted by Sunday night, and craving sleep. But I couldn’t. I lay awake, brain buzzing, body all angles, boobs aching, legs twitching, arms just all over the bloody place, pillow being damned uncomfortable, duvet bunched up then thrown off then dragged on then fluffed out then…. aaaaarggghghgghg!
And on Monday morning, when my first job of the day was to wash all my bed linen and scrub my mattress (and my second was to hotfoot it to the metropolis of Malmesbury for a stock of tampons and pads), I realised that my hormones had, over a year after apparently dying a dignified death, come back to bite me in the ass. Bastards.
Having had so much time period-free, I must say that it is an absolute amazement to me how many women get through their entire reproductive lives without killing anyone. And if you’re a man, next time you tell that* joke, don’t be surprised if you end up with an axe in your head**.
** The other joke. A scientific study has proven that women’s taste in men is affected by where they are in their menstrual cycle. When they’re ovulating, they’re likely to be attracted to a man who’s tall and dark, has broad shoulders and a cleft in his chin, and has gentle eyes and sensitive hands. When they’re premenstrual, their ideal man is on his knees on a stack of burning girlie magazines, with an axe in his head and a golf club shoved up his bum.