These days most people get on my tits. In fact, not just people; noise, smells, tastes, theme tunes, phone notifications, radio DJs making small talk, the postman taking a shortcut over my front lawn that is the size of a postage stamp (lazy bastard). I hadn’t thought anything of it – just assumed I was going to be one of those grumpy old women with purple hair and it was just another phase on the journey of life.
What made me reconsider my situation was a throwaway comment from the husband. He said that everyone annoys me these days. I wasn’t really paying attention to him at the time because I was too busy telling the dogs to shut up while I glared out of the window at next door’s kids who were making a terrible din, all of which was bugging me no end.
Work had also been a bit full on, even more so lately as we have to find new ways of working together safely and still remain productive. I knew I was feeling a little stressed by it all, so assumed my frustrations at work and generally feeling pissed off with my colleagues was just part and parcel of the situation.
I was sat on a rock on a deserted beach watching my dogs play in the sea when I had my light bulb moment and realised that I felt happy. I was happy that there was no noise, nobody around me testing my tolerance levels, nobody making me tut in annoyance, nobody whinging about their problems with me fighting the urge to tell them to man the fuck up. I was feeling peaceful and it was lovely.
Maybe the husband was right. Maybe I was being hard on friends, family and work colleagues for small, unimportant things that I’d normally let slide.
I thought I was being my usual lovely self. I have friends and family who love me and little people in my life who adore me. My antics make them laugh and smile. They like being with me and me with them. We have a lot of fun.
The husband had a point though – the fun was now more forced and the smiles and laughs were certainly needing more effort. Before one family get together, I found myself with my phone locked away in my study having an emergency meditation with my Calm app. I was feeling overwhelmed. Something wasn’t right.
So, I took a deep breath, poured a large glass of wine and asked the husband what he had noticed about me. It makes interesting reading:
- Overreacting – apparently I can totally lose my shit over the smallest thing, such as leaving the tea caddy on the worktop when it should be in the cupboard. I like a tidy kitchen. Shoot me.
- Small tasks become overwhelming when they don’t go to plan, like trying to put a new battery in the fairy lights. In my defence, he was being a cockwomble as it was the right size battery and it was the right way round, he just wasn’t pushing it in until it clicked and wouldn’t accept I was right.
- Short tempered. So I have a short fuse. Life is short. I don’t have time for idiots to waste.
- He said I’m now disapproving where I used to find things funny. Maybe I’m just more mature than him.
- He said I’m impatient. I just think he takes too long to do things and it’s quicker to do them myself.
- Low tolerance – noisy eaters and heavy/mouth breathers are the things that irritate me at the moment, so he says. I was just dropping a hint that he needs to shut his mouth when he eats and breaths. He responded by asking if maybe he should not breath at all. I agreed.
It’s got to a stage where even the dogs go to another room when I am about to go into full re-heat. They instinctively know when to keep a low profile and keep out of trouble.
Perimenopausal outbursts are all down to hormones and I’m doing all I can to keep them in check. I’m trying to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep (that’s another challenge right there!). The hardest thing I had to do was talk about them. We just don’t talk to each other about menopause or perimenopause. We need to get over that – I had to say something to the people around me, because I was going to really offend or upset someone if I couldn’t keep myself in check.
If David Banner can stop himself from turning into the big green monster that is the Incredible Hulk, then surely I could apply some techniques to lock away my inner She-Hulk! Yoga, anyone?
Opening up to work colleagues and my manager was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I’m not that kind of person – I’m private, keep myself to myself and certainly don’t bother people with the inner workings of my now disrupted menstrual cycle. It was uncomfortable as I confessed in a meeting how I was feeling. Both men and women were in the room when I explained that I’m not myself and why. The men squirmed a bit and the younger women looked slightly horrified in the realisation that they too had this to come.
I’m so glad I put my big girl pants on and shared my predicament. My manager is great and gives me the flexibility and support I need, my younger female colleagues are now not a danger to me (was always worried they would run to HR in a shower of snowflakes complaining about the angry, scary lady) and the women of a similar age are a little more open about their situations – we talk about perimenopause!
The biggest surprise was an email from a male colleague – short and sweet, the message just said ‘my wife said this helped’ and shared a link to a book on Amazon.
I’m still grumpy. I still lose my rag. But I’m getting it under control. As well as giving other people the heads up that I come with a warning label making them aware of my behaviour, I’ve also had to become more self-aware. I’ve needed to add some tools to my perimenopausal survival kit.
You may have read this far, nodding in agreement wondering how can you become more ‘self-aware’. If you want to catch yourself and prevent the onslaught of grumpiness on your next hapless victim, here are some tips:
- Stop and think ‘does this really matter?’. Have a little chat with yourself, because it probably doesn’t.
- Before you rip someone a new one, take a deep breath and think about why you are about to explode. Is it actually that person’s fault?
- Instead of drowning in your feelings and getting wound up by a situation, take a moment to think about why you are feeling that way and then focus on what you need to feel better.
- Go for a walk, go to another room and do some box breathing or do some exercise and thrash that grump out of you.
- Distract yourself with a hobby – take up journaling, writing, drawing, painting or anything creative. It’s good for the soul.
- Read our Take a Chill Pill article where we share even more relaxation tools to help you find a moment of bliss.
Remember, this is just a phase and it will pass. You will feel normal again. But if you need something to put a smile on your face in the meantime, picture my husband’s face when I told him that my symptoms could last for up to 10 years. Priceless.