Ocean Swimming In Winter: The Best Cure For The Menopause Blues

Sometime over the past few years, I lost my spark, and even though I wasn’t sure if menopause or the medication I took for my anxiety were the culprits, or even the amount of time my husband and I had spent together in lockdown together, I was desperate to retrieve it.

Woman swimming on her back in the ocean
Photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

Impatience and irrational outbursts of anger had become a big problem that were linked (I suspected) to menopause and poor sleep, hormone fuckery, the inability to control my body temperature, and my secret fears about the life-altering changes that lay ahead.

And, clearly, emotional eating and drinking weren’t working…

And so, as we approached our seventh week of lockdown — and I found myself subconsciously plotting my husband’s death — I decided enough was enough, and determined to find another outlet for my anger.

Admittedly, I laughed when a friend suggested swimming through winter, but I didn’t completely dismiss the idea when in the past, swimming has had a calming effect on me.

It wasn’t an obvious choice. Public indoor swimming pools had been closed down in lockdown and we were in winter in Sydney, and albeit I was aware of the health benefits of swimming in cold water, I needed more convincing.

After two years of comfort eating in lockdown, the idea of contorting my body back into tummy flattening swimmers didn’t fill me with joy

And despite living in arguably one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, I hadn’t been to the beach in a while. Two years ago, our summer was spoilt by the blanket of smoke from bushfires, and last year, my age caught up with my body — with, firstly, a painful case of bursitis in my foot, and secondly, a malignant melanoma on my arm, which entailed surgery and stitches and put an end to my weekend dips.

However, those health issues did provide an epiphany of sorts, (or the cliched “wake-up call”), about the importance of living each day as if it’s my last, being grateful, getting back to nature, and enjoying the simple things in life, blah, blah, blah

And so, I decided to take the plunge

The water temperature is not warm in winter, nor indeed at any time of the year in Sydney. In fact, the only way to swim in temperatures comparable to the Mediterranean or Hawaii’s Waikiki beach in Australia, is by heading north taking your chances with the crocodiles and box jellyfish.

Hence, I admit that the thought of my first winter swim in one of our local ocean pools— originally built to protect swimmers from dangerous surf, currents, and…ahem… sharks — was hardly appealing, and in the end it was vanity that swayed my decision. Because, surprisingly, there are benefits to the crazy activity of swimming in cold water:

  1. It improves the body’s circulation
  2. It reduces stress
  3. It boosts the immune system
  4. It rejuvenates the skin
  5. It gives you an immense feeling of smugness
  6. And it eradicates any middle-aged body image issues, because NO ONE over 50 looks good in a wetsuit

Furthermore, really “cool” people like Julia Baird, Kathy Lette, and Benjamin Law swim through winter

Convinced, I ordered myself the most fetching spring wetsuit I could find in my size, a very unflattering swim cap, a pair of new goggles, and I set about preparing myself for my new adventure.

Admittedly, alcohol may have been involved as I psyched myself up for my first swim

As one of those swimmers who lingers longer around the steps than actually in the water, I knew I had to get into the water quickly for any chance of success, but as my teeth chattered and I felt the need to wee again, I strode as purposefully as I could into the shallow end and all feeling left my lower body.

Luckily, the trickles of iced water that broke through the armour of my wetsuit restarted my heart several times

The temperature of the water was around 17 degrees, but felt closer to zero. However, my new wetsuit did a commendable job of protecting me as I submerged my body with far less grace than a submarine into the icy-cold beneath me, grateful for the odd trickles of iced water that broke through the rubber and restarted my heart several times in between my underwater expletives.

Holding my breath, fully aware of the importance of keeping my heart rate up as I doggy-paddled frantically in the direction the “real” swimmers on the other side of the pool, I prayed silently that none of the lifeguards would jump into save me as a group of kids in bikinis laughed at my progress.

But I made it

And more importantly, the anger left my body as my brain switched its focus from the inadequacies of my husband to my survival. And although the smile of relief on my face nearly cracked until I located a warm spot in the water where the kids had peed, by the end of my second length I remembered why I had married him again.

Photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

24 Shocking Facts About Menopause

24 True Facts About Menopause
Found on menno-pause.com

 

  1. You need to carry out a full risk assessment before you wear a white dress ANY TIME during the month.
  2. Some days your boobs are as dense as when your milk came in after giving birth, other days they have the limpness of overcooked pasta.
  3. There is a reason middle-aged women veer towards a line and voluminous tent dresses – to allow for the sudden bloating caused by the most minor food intolerances or hormonal reactions to stress.
  4. Wind is harder to contain in private and has become an eager performer that can burst forth in public without a moment’s warning.
  5. Your body no longer ‘glows’ or ‘perspires’ – it sweats like a racehorse at the end of the Melbourne Cup, and usually at the most inopportune moments, or in bed at night.
  6. ‘Libido’ becomes a foreign word, that leaves you feeling puzzled and these days you find sex scenes on the tv quite repugnant. You can’t actually remember what wanting to make love ever felt like.
  7. You finally realize that dieting is a fruitless exercise when food becomes even more enticing because your body is forcing you to get fat lay down carbs to protect your brittle bones. You decide to take the ‘let it go’ approach to sugar.
  8. The art of sleeping is lost. Anxiety has kicked in so hard that your brain goes into overdrive the minute you turn off your bedside lamp at night, every sound is intensified and you’re hot, FUCKING HOT, ALL THE TIME. This is obviously why your parents ended up in separate bedrooms, you realise. You finally fall asleep around 5am, just before you need to get up.
  9. You become particularly intolerant to men. Your procreation work is done so you don’t need them physically any more and they have become a tiresome drain on your emotions. You take pleasure in windows of opportunity to plan your divorce.
  10. You research ways to get your young adult kids to leave home even earlier than they planned.
  11. God might have made your body less tolerant to wine in a final attempt to test the superiority of women, but you won’t go down without a fight and so hangovers have taken on a new degree of pain.
  12. Comfortable clothing has become hugely attractive. You make a beeline to the top floors in Myer and the plus-size sections. Wide pants, flat shoes, floaty dresses – bring them on! – your brain assures you that they suit your new shape. ‘Invisibility’ is a godsend if it means you don’t have to give a fuck anymore about what you look like.
  13. You become more insular, less sociable and nothing is more appealing than bed before 10pm in the company of a good book. You get excited about getting up early to make the most of the day.
  14. You focus your energies on friends who still drink and REALLY care about you.
  15. Going for walks suddenly becomes interesting.
  16. Hand cream becomes interesting and T2 is your new favourite shop.
  17. You research ways you can convince your doctor to give you a hysterectomy.
  18. You cry at the drop of a hat, but especially when you run out of wine, during adverts and when you stick your mascara wand in your eye because you’re too longsighted to know what the fuck you’re doing with it.
  19. Fuck ‘goals’! Your new approach to life is just ‘living’, ‘surviving’ and making the most of what time you have left.
  20. Fuck ‘saving’ money.
  21. The dog has become your new best friend because your teenagers hate you, you hate them and you ran out of conversation with your long term partner around your ten-year anniversary. The two of you have perfected the art of a long and meaningful conversation through the dog. It is an interesting fact that all dogs lisp.
  22. Everything your long term partner does, irritates you – not replacing the toilet roll, stealing the doona in the middle of the night (even if you are burning a hormonal fever) and not wiping the bench top down can turn you into a vengeful psychopath who ruminates over the torture scenes in Game of Thrones.

    A toilet paper roll
    A toilet paper roll (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  23. People you fantasise about killing include all white-coated, orange beauty assistants in department stores, men over forty, everyone at work, skinny women and anyone who dares to disagree with you.
  24. Remembering names is a daily challenge. You confuse the kids names with the dog and sometimes you can’t even remember who you’re married to when you’re bitching about him with your friends.

Those ‘What’s It All About?’ Moments

I had a completely self-absorbed and quite exhausting ‘what’s it all about?’ moment in the car on the way to work this morning. I am prone to over-thinking about absolutely nothing, as I’ve mentioned a few gazillion times before in my blog.

In my defence, it WAS Monday morning, I hadn’t had my coffee and Kurt and I had already been text-warring for at least an hour. Then again, I couldn’t blame my period, hormones, or even any extra weight, in spite of that entire brie I consumed yesterday. But for some reason my brain refused to accept that my life is not mundane and simply going through the motions.

I ruminated all day.

It makes writing a blog a bit tricky when you get a meh, ‘what’s it all about?’ moment. The blogging experts tell us that no-one wants to read negativity, that people read blogs to enlighten and brighten their day, especially when your niche is humor. And usually I can shake off the blues by laughing at myself – almost.

Obviously I tried to blame the old man, which gave me some short-lived consolation, especially when we had a full-blown domestic, blue-tooth to blue-tooth in the car park, until he hung up on me. In my experience, unexplained ‘blueness‘ is often eased if you can share and apportion blame on someone else, but he refused to play the game today. He tends to run a mile (Usain Bolt- quickly) from the inexplicable female mood swing.

And it was inexplicable.

So I tried a new strategy. I tried to think positively and transform my ‘what’s it all about’ moment to a ‘what I’m grateful for’ moment. Here’s what I came up with:

WHAT I’M GRATEFUL FOR:

  • This is what I wake up to every morning.

Those 'What's It All About?' Moments

  • I haven’t crossed paths with the bitch from the block in weeks.
  • Brad and Ange finally tied the knot, which means that we can all relax and focus on real news, like the impending world war.
  • Kurt’s exams, which have been festering like roadkill for the whole of this term, are finally here. Othello is the most boring Shakespeare play EVER written – FACT. Kurt should get full marks for writing an essay about a play he has never read, nor understands. This is on our kitchen wall.

Those 'What's It All About?' Moments

  • This weekend I found THE MOST PERFECT yellow cushion to coordinate with my new Aboriginal painting. I hope this stops my OCD cushion anxiety getting out of control, finally.

Those 'What's It All About?' Moments
Obviously I need to dye the Princess.

  • The Bachelor, for keeping me equally entertained and appalled by reminding me what the perfect male physique looks like, that romance used to be quite fun and that we have gone back to Dickensian times if women are judged on their ability to bake a cake.
  • It’s Spring and for one whole day we had sunshine, warmth and vitamin D.
  • My favourite wine is on ‘special.’
  • In four weeks time I will be stretched out on a beach in Hamilton Island with earplugs in to drown out the dulcet tones of dysfunctional family bickering.
  • Brie.
  • And this is what else I wake up to in the morning.

Those 'What's It All About?' Moments

The Only Way To Celebrate Your Middle-Aged Birthday When You’re Menopausal

The Only Way To Celebrate Your Middle Aged Birthday
Eat healthily!

Peri-menopause is a bitch, or that’s probably how my son Kurt would describe it.

 

THERE! I said the M word out loud – cue all two of my male readers to cough uncomfortably and exit the page as fast as their mouse can click.

 

But it’s a little known fact (unless you already this blog) that the best way to cure hormonal outrage is to shop. And I like to practise what I preach.

 

I’ve always thought that birthdays are over-rated, but if it hadn’t been for my birthday this week, I might have committed first degree murder such was the mindfuckery caused by my level 10 peri-menopause symptoms.I blame my state of psychosis on a) fucking around with my hormone levels in a backfiring attempt to feel less psychotic and b) the Princess sleeping between us in what is already a sauna of a bedroom and hence not getting enough beauty sleep.

The Only Way To Celebrate Your Middle Aged Birthday
Looking attractive all the time, will boost your confidence!

 

But because it was my birthday this week I couldn’t just wallow in the foetal position and rock in between drooling at photos of The Bachelor on my special day; I had to pretend to be human for the sake of the members of my family who were excited for me, (and who have also taken to concealing weapons in their bedrooms for self-protection reasons recently). So I locked the kitchen knife drawer, hid the scissors and photos of the old man, plastered a fake smile and the reddest lippy on my face and actually ended up having a great day.

 

You see the old man believed (wisely, as it turns out) that if he threw enough cash in my face, he could get away with NOT buying me another birthday present that I don’t want.

 

And he was right. Because I really AM that shallow.

 

So off I headed to Pitt St Mall on Tuesday morning and spent an orgasmic six hours trying on every pair of sparkly shoes and LBD in David Jones, interspersed with a very pleasant lunch date with my husband in the Oyster Bar, because I had to make him suffer somehow I felt I should include him, and very soon I began to feel remarkably better about the whole getting older, fatter and uglier thing.

 

I might have mentioned the medicinal values of Champagne before.

 

The Only Way To Celebrate Your Middle Aged Birthday
Brand new shoes, sparkly shoes – better than sex!

I shopped ‘til I fucking dropped and bought all sorts of shit that I don’t really need never usually lavish on myself, like jewellery and lingerie and the most gorgeous pair of super-expensive sparkly FLAT mules, and the day transformed itself into a complete ME-FEST to become undeniably one of the best days of my life!

 

I finally felt complete!

 

 

 

Still sucks being 49, though! Not quite old enough to blame Menopause on my personality metamorphosis or feel completely chez-moi in the plus-size, granny-pant departments of David Jones that I’m strangely drawn to these days. Yet old enough to feel cranky for absolutely no fucking reason, particularly towards that breed of stunning young bitches in white coats who insist on spraying expensive perfume in my eyes in the makeup department like they have some sort of fucking death wish.

10 Reasons Why Menopause Isn’t For Pussies

Menopause is ‘ a special time in a woman’s life when they can’t have babies anymore. They get hormonal, mean, rude, short-tempered, angry, and awkward. Bad time for teenagers to live with their moms. She was mean because she was going through menopause‘. Urban Dictionary

YAY!! It’s World Menopause Day. An excuse to celebrate irrationality, mood swings and incomprehensible bloating. So I thought I’d recycle this little gem just to get you in the mood to party.

This week I was going to bring you a vacuous post entitled ‘the physical significance of the modern super-hero’ (or ‘why Chris Hemsworth is so f*cking hot’), but then I realized that all three of my readers would probably work out what a pathetic, dyed-blonde sleaze ball I truly am and ditch my blog.

So instead, and partly because I’m still recovering from an outrageously evil assault by some vengeful grass ticks, (resulting in paranoid insomnia from the unrelenting itchiness), I have spent most of this week feeling a tad maudlin. As a result, instead of going into the finer detail of Chris’s pecs, I decided to write a true Midlife Mayhem ‘niche’ post detailing the symptoms of an equally debilitating health issue (even worse than the repercussions of a swathe of embittered grass ticks), eerily often referred to in hushed tones as ‘the change’.

(I’ll just give the boys a few seconds to exit the page).

So anyway, here’s my little snapshot of what I’ve experienced in the first few sacred years of my menopausal Chamber of Horrors:

  1. Admittedly, I’ve always been a bit partial to GRUMPINESS, (even when I didn’t have the abdication of my oestrogen as a valid excuse), but my grumpiness has now become a condition rather than an event. From the moment I wake up these days, I feel irritable, no matter if it’s the weekend,  if I’ve had a good night’s sleep or if the old man has unexpectedly been called away on a five day work trip; and that lack of control over my innate grumpiness, renders me even more grumpy. My tolerance has completely expired. I can and will find fault with everything and anyone and I blow trivial annoyances completely out of proportion. If anyone dares to allude to (or worse, question) my irrationality, they’d better be prepared.
  2. My BODY’S in-built mechanism for the equal distribution of weight (that served me well in my twenties and thirties in helping me deal with those extra calories) no longer seems to function, so it dumps those unwanted calories unceremoniously anywhere it can on my physique without prior consultation; usually around my tummy and chin, but never on my breasts. No amount of energy-sapping nut and fruit grazing seem to rectify this problem. I have been forced to accept friend invites from  ‘bloating’ and ‘swelling’ on Facebook.
  3. My STYLE has been forced to conform to my new skin tones which range from ruddy to sallow, with an occasional pretty grey tinge. I have capitulated regarding my wardrobe and embraced kaftans, voluminous Witchery tent dresses and hideously chunky beads in in-your-face tropical shades to distract the eye from anyone actually looking at ME.
  4. I gain WEIGHT when I eat, and I gain weight when I don’t eat.  The fullness of my boobs veer from empty vessels to over-ripe, sore mangos at varying times of the month. Why the f*ck do I need big puppies now of all times?
  5. My PERIODS have resorted to anarchy. They just appear when the f*ck they like with absolutely no prior warning. RUDE! The only certainty with ‘the curse’ these days is that it HURTS LIKE HELL, which makes them an even more bitter pill to swallow when they no longer serve any purpose.
  6. My MEMORY abandoned ship around the same time as my menstrual cycle. I now resort to lists for everything and find lost objects, (including car keys, the car and the kids), by a carefully orchestrated ‘working backwards’ process. My brain has obviously imploded and become a confused mash of old cells that connivingly trick me in sensitive situations; like at work in the face of my boss and deadlines.
  7. I have more BODY HAIR than the dog and the dog groomer looked uncomfortable when I suggested a two for one deal.  I used to celebrate the European liberation of a bit of leg or under-arm fuzz but now ALL my follicles have joined the party and rogue hairs grow anywhere and everywhere.
  8. Remind me again about the point of SEXOther than for procreation or as a negotiating tool, obviously. With judgmental teenagers, 24hr fatigue, body image issues and difficulty finding my sexual mojo for the guy I listen to fart in unison with the dog each night, I often sometimes can’t find that precious ‘window’.
  9. My intolerance to ALCOHOL is the real kicker.  Alcohol now screws with my head in a really badass way. I can get a hangover from Tiramisu, and one dangerous glass of cheap vino can escalate my mood from moroseness to a noose. No matter how much I’ve adapted my body to the curtailing infringements imposed by middle-age, giving up this last vestige of my youth hurts the most. Water has become my new best friend.

Tune in next week for the old man’s version of the ‘male journey’ into middle-age. Highlights include: how much is too much hair loss? golf on tv versus sex, imposing nose hair and keeping the weight down by watching lots of sport on tv.

Meet Ms Peri Menopause photo courtesy of mummysam at www.flickr.com

10 Reasons Why Menopause Isn’t For Pussies

menopause Urban Dictionary
A special time in a woman’s life when they can’t have babies anymore. They get hormonal, mean, rude, short-tempered, angry, and awkward. Bad time for teenagers to live with their moms.
She was mean because she was going through menopause.

This week I was going to bring you a vacuous post entitled ‘the physical significance of the modern super-hero’ (or ‘why Chris Hemsworth is so f*cking hot’), but then I realized that all three of my readers would probably work out what a pathetic, dyed-blonde sleaze ball I truly am and ditch my blog.

So instead, and partly because I’m still recovering from an outrageously evil assault by some vengeful grass ticks, (resulting in paranoid insomnia from the unrelenting itchiness), I have spent most of this week feeling a tad maudlin. As a result, instead of going into the finer detail of Chris’s pecs, I decided to write a true Midlife Mayhem ‘niche’ post detailing the symptoms of an equally debilitating health issue (even worse than the repercussions of a swathe of embittered grass ticks), eerily often referred to in hushed tones as ‘the change’.

(I’ll just give the boys a few seconds to exit the page).

So anyway, here’s my little snapshot of what I’ve experienced in the first few sacred years of my menopausal Chamber of Horrors:

  1. Admittedly, I’ve always been a bit partial to GRUMPINESS, (even when I didn’t have the abdication of my oestrogen as a valid excuse), but my grumpiness has now become a condition rather than an event. From the moment I wake up these days, I feel irritable, no matter if it’s the weekend,  if I’ve had a good night’s sleep or if the old man has unexpectedly been called away on a five day work trip; and that lack of control over my innate grumpiness, renders me even more grumpy. My tolerance has completely expired. I can and will find fault with everything and anyone and I blow trivial annoyances completely out of proportion. If anyone dares to allude to (or worse, question) my irrationality, they’d better be prepared.
  2. My BODY’S in-built mechanism for the equal distribution of weight (that served me well in my twenties and thirties in helping me deal with those extra calories) no longer seems to function, so it dumps those unwanted calories unceremoniously anywhere it can on my physique without prior consultation; usually around my tummy and chin, but never on my breasts. No amount of energy-sapping nut and fruit grazing seem to rectify this problem. I have been forced to accept friend invites from  ‘bloating’ and ‘swelling’ on Facebook.
  3. My STYLE has been forced to conform to my new skin tones which range from ruddy to sallow, with an occasional pretty grey tinge. I have capitulated regarding my wardrobe and embraced kaftans, voluminous Witchery tent dresses and hideously chunky beads in in-your-face tropical shades to distract the eye from anyone actually looking at ME.
  4. I gain WEIGHT when I eat, and I gain weight when I don’t eat.  The fullness of my boobs veer from empty vessels to over-ripe, sore mangos at varying times of the month. Why the f*ck do I need big puppies now of all times?
  5. My PERIODS have resorted to anarchy. They just appear when the f*ck they like with absolutely no prior warning. RUDE! The only certainty with ‘the curse’ these days is that it HURTS LIKE HELL, which makes them an even more bitter pill to swallow when they no longer serve any purpose.
  6. My MEMORY abandoned ship around the same time as my menstrual cycle. I now resort to lists for everything and find lost objects, (including car keys, the car and the kids), by a carefully orchestrated ‘working backwards’ process. My brain has obviously imploded and become a confused mash of old cells that connivingly trick me in sensitive situations; like at work in the face of my boss and deadlines.
  7. I have more BODY HAIR than the dog and the dog groomer looked uncomfortable when I suggested a two for one deal.  I used to celebrate the European liberation of a bit of leg or under-arm fuzz but now ALL my follicles have joined the party and rogue hairs grow anywhere and everywhere.
  8. Remind me again about the point of SEX? Other than for procreation or as a negotiating tool, obviously. With judgmental teenagers, 24hr fatigue, body image issues and difficulty finding my sexual mojo for the guy I listen to fart in unison with the dog each night, I often sometimes can’t find that precious ‘window’.
  9. My intolerance to ALCOHOL is the real kicker.  Alcohol now screws with my head in a really badass way. I can get a hangover from Tiramisu, and one dangerous glass of cheap vino can escalate my mood from moroseness to a noose. No matter how much I’ve adapted my body to the curtailing infringements imposed by middle-age, giving up this last vestige of my youth hurts the most. Water has become my new best friend.

Tune in next week for the old man’s version of the ‘male journey’ into middle-age. Highlights include: how much is too much hair loss? golf on tv versus sex, imposing nose hair and keeping the weight down by watching lots of sport on tv.

Meet Ms Peri Menopause photo courtesy of mummysam at www.flickr.com