Helplessly hoping


Hello, good evening and welcome. Firstly, I’ve been absent for a while, I know. I’ll come to that in a minute, but secondly, what’s with the pic of the teeny wee plant? I’ll tell you what! This represents my first successful plant nurture, ever. My normal MO for plants is this: buy them fully formed from the garden centre/supermarket/IKEA, then casually destroy them at home over time. How long that takes depends on the hardiness of the plant. I’ve killed a ficus in a year and a yucca in about two, with many other victims in between. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve even accidentally killed a cactus and that takes some doing.

This little pink bud on the left is a miracle. This plant was given to me by a friend last autumn as a small cutting in a plastic cup and now I have managed by some fluke of nature to keep it alive and enable it to grow. I’ve even re-potted the fecker.   It’s going to reward me with some flowering over the coming months, which I am strangely excited by. I see it as a sign of hope, that all things are possible…

Update from mid-January when I last posted here. All went well on the Dry January, although I’m not gonna lie, the last week got a bit dull. It wasn’t that I wanted to drink all the time, but by the end of the last week I was bored of being sober 24/7. I finally caved, one day early, on the 31st of January, because it was official Brexit Day. So obviously I had to go down, guns blazing, armed with the finest of European produce. I say finest, I mean available from the local Co-op. So French Chablis and baguette were imbibed, alongside Greek Olives, Spanish chorizo, Italian cheese and so on. You get the picture; the main thing was that everything was swigged and swallowed alongside a big ‘fuck you’ to everyone that voted for Brexit and Johnson’s Tories in December.

Since then, I’ve been drinking on and off, a lot less than before, but not abstinent. The temptation to drink is strong, partly because I didn’t feel that euphoric thing that all the sober people tell you about: happiness in observing the everyday, brilliant sleeps, save a fortune etc. None of that for me; I felt less bloated and my skin was clearer, but my sleep was just as shite as before and my overall mood was average to low. Somehow, I still managed to be skint at the end of the month. This seeming lack of benefit led me back to drinking, with the logic of ‘I might as well be hung for a sheep, as for a lamb’. In truth, I know that those benefits are out there, I’d just need to stop drinking for longer than a month to get my hands on them.

However, the main reason for the lack of fabulosity was little to do with alcohol. One element has been the total shiteness of the weather. While I appreciate the fact that there were no terrible floods here as there were in other parts of Britain, it has rained almost every day since the middle of January. We got a peep of sun some days, which typically morphed into the ‘four seasons in one day’ weather that Scotland is well known for. Like most Scots I am well used to this, and I don’t suffer from SAD, but this year it really got me. It felt like every time you went outside, you were assaulted by tiny daggers of horizontal rain, cutting like cold into the bone.

Only by squeezing in the occasional walk in the park between rain showers, did I notice how much time I’ve been forced to spend indoors lately. This feels unnatural, bad for our mental and physical health. No sooner had one cold gone, then the next was lining up to take root for another week or two. I’ve been stuck on a rollercoaster of sneezes, snots and coughs all winter.

In the last week, we’ve seen glimpses of bright weather, which may not last but is still an improvement. So, yes, the weather has been a factor in my downturn, but it’s not the only one. Not even another middle-aged birthday taking me ever closer to the big fifty, nor the fact that work has been busy, stressful and mentally tiring lately. No, the main issue is that despite taking my sage every day and other supplements, my peri-menopause symptoms have returned with a vengeance. Meno Meanies II – this time its personal.

How so? Well, apart from the ongoing insomnia, nothing changed too much when I stopped taking HRT about five months ago. At first, I thought it might not have been doing much for me at all so I might get off without any withdrawals. I now realise that was naive and foolish thinking. It took a few months for the sweats to return. But this time, I felt even hotter that I did the first time. There were several nights in January where I woke at 3am in a cool, unheated flat, sweating all over, at odds with the zero degrees outside. Once I got out of bed, I would immediately start feeling cold and damp. Nice. And just so damn sexy as well. It’s probably a mercy that there’s no-one else in there with me these days.

Still, the insomnia and the sogginess wasn’t the worst. It was the general feeling that I was losing my mind. I had decided to give myself a few weeks off blogging so I could focus on some other writing, one being an essay that I wanted to enter in a competition. There was already the start of it in a piece I’d written a while ago in a writing group, all I had to do was chop it up and add more bits to it. In my head, I knew what else I wanted to add, notes were scribbled and so on. I was on it.

Except whenever I made time to sit down and write, I couldn’t do it. Some unexplained malfunction between the brain and the body was happening. It wasn’t alcohol making me lazy, as I wasn’t drinking. My concentration was fucked and my mind would drift away onto other things. Perhaps some would call it writer’s block, but it didn’t feel like that. I was easily distracted. I’d already noticed at work that I needed to check my emails more carefully before sending, in case I missed out words or even whole phrases, that I had in my head but didn’t make it to the page. Sometimes I would only see the missing words after I’d sent them, which made me feel unprofessional and scatty.

This is the kind of thing that has never happened to me. I’ve always had a sharp mind and I hope it stays that way.   Every day for the last year, I have been playing a word game on my phone and now I’ve added a Gaelic lesson on Duolingo (98 day streak – sgonneil!), both of which I consider to be essential brain exercise. The missing words have freaked me out. I don’t like it but it’s temporary. I intend to emerge from the foggy years with my smarts intact, planning to be one of those sharp-eyed old biddies who offer you a peppermint and a tissue, before wangling whatever information I want to know out of you.

No, if my life continues down this single, non-house owning path, one possible solution (apart from the Golden Girls house) is to become a modern-day Ms Marple or Jessica Fletcher, upsetting swathes of friends by causing outbreaks of gruesome murder whenever I come for my prolonged, annoying visits. I already have the prerequisite twinkling blue eyes, and my hair is silvering nicely. Once my son has left my care, I will ideally be over the worst of the brain fog and ready for ‘Operation Bunty Sleuth’.

What the fuck am I digressing about? It’s taken a while, so I’ll get to the point. As always, some of my getting by is down to the help of my friends; I am lucky to have some amazing ones. I changed GPs and decided to trust in the recommendation of the new doc and try a different type of HRT, that they thought would be the best thing for all my symptoms. Why the fuck not? The hippy in my head likes the idea of going au naturel but when it boils down to it, I’ll try anything that stops me from feeling like an old woman at the age of 48. Now I am four weeks in and starting to feel some slight shifts. My sleeping is improving, as is my general wellbeing. Despite the grey skies and a head full of glue, I can see that there are better days ahead.

Is it the drugs, or the early buds of spring? Who knows, or even cares if it works? I will let you know. I promised myself I would not ramble in this post or miss out words, so will quit while I’m already too far ahead. There’s stuff going down: busy work and family health, then external worries like Coronavirus, Brexit and all the usual shite. Aside from that, I still need to get healthy and make decisions about things in my life, make a proper plan. No problem. For whatever reason, I feel lighter about these tasks ahead. For now, there is the start of something.

There is hope.


Until next time,









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  1. No missed words spotted. May your hippy HRT be effective, your menopause brief and your sleuthing days long and slightly tipsy!


  2. Good to hear from you again Jude! You have described perfectly what I have been feeling about this winter and the various issues and storms which have been assailing us. Glad you might have found HRT which works for you. I long ago gave up on trying to hold onto my marbles – they are as scattered as my thoughts. I am just embracing dottiness


  3. Loved loved loved this.
    I tried a couple of HRT treatments before I found one that suited. I took it for 7-8 years moving into a ‘ no bleed’ version of the same one for two years before stopping. I e not regretted it.
    No one tells you that the sweats,moods and bloats are here to stay- maybe fewer yes- but still here when you’ve gone through the gates into menopause. I’m now almost 4 years since my last TOM ( 2 years since HRT)and whilst it gets better it doesn’t completely go away!
    As for the plants ….I buy the same ones , replacing as they wilt 🙄😆
    Keep em coming girl xx


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