Con­fi­dence is a perk of our age says our colum­nist al­li­son Pearson

OUR BRIL­LIANT NEW COLUM­NIST ON THE MOD­ERN MIDLIFE WOMAN

Woman & Home - - Editor’s Letter -

“My mind is clearer and my emo­tions bet­ter balanced than ever”

When­ever I lack con­fi­dence, or am about to pull out of an event that in­tim­i­dates me, I al­ways think back to the time I ap­peared on the oprah show in Chicago. Just as I was about to walk out onto the set, in front of a packed au­di­ence, the pro­ducer smiled and said, “Miss Pearson, you’re go­ing live to 40 mil­lion amer­i­cans.”

gee, thanks for that re­as­sur­ing thought. not. i was pet­ri­fied. but as i ap­proached the great em­press win­frey her­self, i did a deal with my fairy god­mother. “look,” i said, “if you will just let me get through the next 20 min­utes with­out fall­ing off the back of that bench or say­ing some­thing stupid, or clutch­ing the host­ess’s hand like a star-struck loon while shout­ing, “oprah! oprah! omigod, it’s re­ally you!” if none of those things hap­pen, and i don’t em­bar­rass my­self, then i swear i will never be ner­vous again.

it worked. Con­fi­dence is not purely built on past tri­umphs. true con­fi­dence comes from the knowl­edge that we have sur­vived many things, and that even e com­plete and ut­ter dis­as­ters, which w throb in the mem­ory like an an­gry scar, s will fade with time. Con­fi­dence is one o of the perks of mid­dle age. it’s hard to t pass it on to our daugh­ters be­cause young y girls lack the per­spec­tive that only o comes with ex­pe­ri­ence.

by my late-for­ties, i reckon i was the m most con­fi­dent i’d ever been. happy with m my hair, i’d fi­nally shed that stub­born baby w weight. (Just as well be­cause the “baby” w was now 15!). work was go­ing well and, w with the pro­jec­tile-vom­it­ing years of lit­tle k kids be­hind us, him­self and i were start­ing t to re­mem­ber why we g got to­gether in the first p place. then, with­out warn­ing, my con­fi­dence went awol. i be­came in­cred­i­bly anx­ious about things that had never both­ered me. My ex­cel­lent mem­ory turned into a spout­ing colan­der. i walked into a room look­ing for a thingummy and came out un­able to re­mem­ber the pur­pose of my visit. was i los­ing my mind? it cer­tainly felt like it.

as for my li­bido, sig­nals from down­be­low were now so in­fre­quent that it was like one of those black-box flight recorders lost on the bot­tom of the ocean. sadly, it would have taken an en­tire reg­i­ment of Marines to lo­cate my sex drive.

all of the above was enough to make you tear your hair out, but i didn’t dare. if i so much as ran my fin­gers through it a whole bi­chon frise came away in my hand. bald­ness beck­oned. hair loss is not un­com­mon at that time of life. who knew?

i was sort of ex­pect­ing the phys­i­cal side of what my grand­mother coyly called the Change. no one had ever men­tioned the men­tal ef­fects, the slow hae­m­or­rhag­ing of self-worth. dr louise new­son, a menopause ex­pert, says that 72% of women who come to her clinic, com­plain­ing they’ve lost all ap­petite for life, have been pre­scribed an­tide­pres­sants, even though they’re not de­pressed. they’re per­i­menopausal and they need hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy.

for too long women have been kept in the dark, be­liev­ing that they have to say a re­gret­ful good­bye to the en­er­getic per­son they once were. a sin­gle rogue study link­ing hrt to can­cer caused mil­lions to shun that sim­ple treat­ment which could im­prove their midlife 100%.

i spent 18 months wish­ing that i could check my body into a left-lug­gage locker and come back for it when it wasn’t go­ing to be­tray me. an ap­point­ment with a gy­nae­col­o­gist in harley street put me right. he said that a) i wasn’t go­ing mad, and b) oe­stro­gen, pro­ges­terone and a dab of testos­terone would soon see nor­mal al­li­son ser­vice re­sumed. please note: this treat­ment is avail­able free, on re­quest, from your gp.

you know, i didn’t get my old self back. i did get a con­fi­dent new me who stopped shed­ding her crown­ing glory and rapidly started feel­ing less like road­kill and more like the easter bunny. My mind is clearer and my emo­tions bet­ter balanced than ever while my li­bido, if not an as­ton Martin, is a very nippy Mini Club­man. i’ve even started re­mem­ber­ing the name of the thingummy. w&h

How Hard Can It Be?, al­li­son’s new novel with a menopausal hero­ine, is pub­lished by bor­ough press (£14.99)

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