The Name of the Game

[Sensitive men may wish to look away now.]

The menopause has effectively redefined who I am over the last couple of years. Sure, the same basic person remains that started the journey from periods that would effectively keep me housebound in the last months before they stopped, so much blood loss that I’d occasionally faint. Now, there’s a lot of things that are different, and a fair few things that are missed. One thing most definitely isn’t.

Anger was, for me, very much hormonally-based. Having lost most, if not all of that white hot reaction is really a bonus for everybody concerned. Sure, I’ll still let stuff get to me but now, it is far less incendiary. What does remain is a remarkable amount of sorrow: tears are a problem, and can often happen with complete unexpectedness. However, that too is beginning to be tempered. Tiredness is the key: making sure I’m getting enough hours rest every night has become an overriding priority.

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If I sleep well, the World pretty much resets to normal around that. Protracted periods of exhaustion mean memory issues, irritation and an inability to effectively communicate. This is normal for most of the world regardless, I just turned up at this point late to the party and am beginning to grasp what a more mellow, laid back version of reality can mean for existence. Becoming hormone free is, in that regard, the best thing that’s happened for decades. I am dictated to by my body no longer.

What this does force however is a different way of thinking about the business of everyday life. Some skills are needing to be re-learnt from scratch. The benefit of routine and goal-setting have become more significant than ever before, because it is this that allows me to maintain sanctity of both body and mind. Starting my exercise programme when I did, in that regard, may end up the most important gift that was ever self- given.

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Exercise is the drug that nobody can prescribe that means the withdrawal from hormone dependency is minimised. It’s also impetus and focus all rolled into one. I have goals and objectives that are set and defined purely on my terms that are not dependant on winning a contest or being popular in a peer group. It is the personal nirvana that defines increasing areas of existence. I don’t need group events to show my ability or skill, just myself. I am the arbiter of this destiny alone.

However, some days it is a wade through neck-high treacle. Yesterday was one of those. Today, with a decent night’s kip and revelation over an injury, everything is indeed considerably brighter than it was. Sure, the rejection and occasional inertia will get me down, because if it didn’t I wouldn’t be me. Today, however, they don’t matter.

All that is of consequence is the motion forward.

There There

This week has been tough. Mentally I’ve coped pretty well but physically, my digestive system is a mess. Having to lose what I’ve become reliant on in terms of high fat foods was a wrench my body initially wasn’t at all happy about. However, a week in and I’m beginning to cope. The other major loss is what counted as rewards on Treat Days are effectively out of the window too until I can get the all clear on my scans. I’ve been living on coated nuts in small portions, the occasional flapjack and luck, mostly. I wondered if I was doing this right until I got on the scales: my weight’s dropped consistently this last week, and I’m almost two pounds down. The key here is that there’s been only light exercise, because again I’m on orders not to strain my trunk area too vigorously.

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It is more than a year now since my last period. The night sweats remain, but are slowly tapering off, and I don’t seem to get hot in the daytime nearly as much as was the case before: *gasp* I’ve felt genuinely cold on a few occasions this last week, which is a distinct change. The biggest difference is my skin, which used to be really greasy: now I’m almost permanently dry, but the skincare routine is taking care of that. Oh, and body hair’s stopped growing, which means that I’m brushing my hair less and it is undoubtedly thinning. If genetics isn’t lying I won’t go bald, but even if I did I think that’s a hurdle I could tackle. I love my long hair now and I’ll be making the most of it for as long as I can.

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It seems odd at this stage to be undergoing so much change, but I’m quite sanguine about everything that is happening at once. I’ll be doing a session at the Gym later with weights but only light Cardio, just so I can keep momentum going. I don’t have a PT on Monday as my trainer is away so I think going forward I’ll plan to do *something* daily in order to keep the weight loss moving but not get too stressed if I don’t break goals. I’m certainly not in a mental state of panic or unhappiness over anything related to weight or exercise right now, and long may that continue.

In fact, everything’s looking just fine.

Perfect Day

This morning, the BBC website tells me that ‘method writing’ could be the future for authors: getting yourself into the correct mindset by experiencing the same things your characters do. This actually made me laugh into my breakfast cereal, because I’ve been doing this for years, and hell yes of course it works. Unlike some actors who’ll go throw themselves in a frozen river or not sleep for a week I use multi-stimulus immersion as a start point, music that ‘prompts’ the feelings I need to work on my stuff. That’s why I put so much store in playlists: the music that kick-starts the writing process. Also, having a really good imagination helps to begin with.

I will also admit I don’t read nearly as much as I used to do, because I’d find ideas that I’d pick up would bleed into work and make me end up feeling as if I’d just stolen them from whatever was currently being read. There are many who would argue that this is not the right way to go about process, that you should be taking as many ideas as possible and then processing them yourself, but over time I realise this isn’t how my subconscious operates best. What now works for me is the rapid and continuous consumption of the news, current affairs, science and development, and this has become a better base ‘fuel’ for my work than any amount of literature. I think maybe because I feel the need now to be moving forwards and not looking back, I’m not sure.

My processes are not something I’ve given too much thought towards, and maybe that should change.

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I’ll admit this week my major focus has been that green line and, after saying I’d not worry, of course I did. But, as you can see, there is finally movement. Tiny, frustrating, but still it is there, and what this means is that I’ll work hard again over the weekend to keep that trend downwards. My goal is 150, but I’ll celebrate when I hit 160, because this time I’m fighting a lot more than just overconsumption. My body is undoubtedly now slipping into menopause, there is no denying the signs, and I’m sure as fuck not about to enter that part of my life overweight and unhealthy. It is kill or cure time.

Men, you have no idea of how fucking lucky you are.