Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Mid-Life Inertia!

I'm back! I think!

I can only apologise for not blogging more frequently of late, but I've been struck down by lethargy and inertia. It's my age, m'dears. I've been plagued with horrendous night sweats/shivers and hot flushes during the day as well as extreme tiredness. I can't seem to function normally at all. I even had to cancel my run today (this happens quite often).

The menopause has also affected my creativity. Self-doubt seems more overwhelming than usual and I haven't got the get-up-and-go to make myself sit at the keyboard and write. I can totally identify with the main character in Sue Townsend's novel, The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year. That's exactly what I'd like to do. Go to bed and stay there.

Last year I was driven by that big number: 50. I was determined to make a go of my writing with a 'now or never' attitude. I entered practically every short story competition I could find, and I had a fair amount of success. Then something happened. I can't pinpoint the day or the week or the month, but I seemed to grind to a halt. The long winter didn't help, and spring still seems a long way off even though we're well into March. At least the sun is shining today, despite being bitterly cold and there being the odd flurry of snow.

There's a line from Carole King's song, It's Too Late: 'Something inside has died and I can't hide..' That's kind of how I feel. I can't summon up the energy to feel remotely excited about anything, so it makes it rather difficult to pursue my writing goals. I realise this is just a phase and it will pass, but it's an unpleasant phase. There's also the loss of youth, looks, vitality and memory to cope with! Add to that a growing awareness of my own mortality and the outlook is pretty depressing!

Anyway, there were two pleasant surprises in the post today. A signed hardback copy of Kate Atkinson's latest novel, Life After Life (a freebie from The Harrogate Crime Writers Festival Events team) and a copy of To The Edge Of There And Back, the 2011/12 Whittaker Prize Anthology featuring one of my short stories, Metal Guru. And I did write... just a few lines......

11 comments:

fran tracey said...

Jo, It would be hard to empathise more with your blog post! thanks for putting exactly how I feel - have been feeling for the last year - in words!

Claudette Young said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your plight, Jo. I can't fully appreciate your situation. I'm one of those rare females who had to have a complete "femaile job" done in my late twenties and who never went through the later process. I've never had any of these symptoms, which was terribly unusual. I have, however, many friends who've joined the ranks of sufferers and who express their feelings quite openly about the ongoing process.

Here's hoping all will get sorted out soon for you. BTW, my own doctor refused to put me on hormones, saying that there wasn't a man alive who understood the female hormonal system well enough to prescribe anything for replacement security. I know. TMI Keep my fingers crossed for you.

JO said...

I resorted to HRT very quickly - which kept me sane for a year or two. That allowed me to gain a bit more perspective, so when I did come off them and go through all the flushes and night sweats etc I managed to find a funny side. I was forever flapping, to soothe my rosy cheeks, and then cuddling back into clothes as I was cold.

It does end - honestly. And when it does, the memory of the awfulness fades. You will be fine. (And if you can persuade your GP to think about HRT, I'd have that discussion. It buys you time to get your head round the whole age-thing.)

howesue said...

I'm 60, and the menopause is long gone, but lack of motivation is still a problem. I think the more accepting you are, the less traumatic it becomes. Just make the most of the 'up' times and it will generate its own momentum. At 54, my husband and I started learning to swing dance and I reckon that's done more for me/us than any other therapy. I recommend it!

Teresa Ashby said...

Hugs, Jo - I so relate to this and can honestly say I know how you feel. The hot flushes and sweats/shivers I can handle, but the lack of energy and motivation really gets me down.

But all things must pass and we will feel human again :-) x

Pauline Wiles said...

Oh no!
I'm a few years younger, but I remember winter always being a tough season for me when I lived in the UK. Could you perhaps look into SAD remedies, also? And please try to exercise when you can... it's the best natural boost ever invented... I often make a deal with myself, all I have to do is put my gear on and do 5 minutes. Usually, after 5 minutes, carrying on is more enjoyable.

Jo said...

Some superb comments and thank you so much for them all. I'm sorry to hear you're suffering, Fran. Very interesting what your doctor said, Claudette. I think female hormones are very complex, which is why I will avoid HRT if I can and why the Pill never suited me. Sue, I've always wanted to try swing dancing (sounds dodgy.. maybe we should say 'the lindy hop'?) and have even googled it to find a local class. Unfortunately, my husband wouldn't even entertain the idea. Teresa, I'm sorry you're suffering, too and I hate the physical symptoms as much as the mental ones! Pauline, we've had such a horrid winter here and I think some sun would be beneficial. I try to go out running as often as I can, and your approach of 'just doing 5 mins' is a good psychological trick. Thank you!

Pauline Conolly said...

Jo, there is definitely life after the menopause and after the big 50. Here I am with my first two books being published at 60 plus. You have plenty of time. Be kind to yourself during these rough days and look forward to a bright and creative future.x

Joanna said...

It will pass, Jo. Life will look up again and your energy and enthusiasm will be restored.
Don't worry about it in the meantime. Try to accept that this is how you are feeling - for now. It isn't permanent. Be easy on yourself. And remember that anything you achieve is positive. A few lines is way better than none at all. A little each day will gradually mount up.
So many people empathise with how you feel. You are certainly not alone. And your vibrant personality and ability to talk with honesty about it will see you through. x

Jo said...

Thank you, Jo and Pauline! It's sometimes hard to feel positive, but each day is different and something good could be just around the corner!

Kath said...

Jo, have you checked with your doctor that there's no reason other than the menopause for this tiredness, such as a thyroid imbalance? I'm only asking because my own experience of being in my 50s has been so completely different from what you describe. Also I have a friend of a similar age who thought she was tired all the time because of a recent operation but it turns out she has a severe vitamin D defiency which is easily treatable.