the one When midlife announces itself by tapping you on the shoulder and saying BOO.
Generally, I’ve always been able to find the bright side. There’s always something to look forward to, a goal I have to meet or a hobby that takes up my time. When I feel shitty, I know that it’s only a matter of time before it all swings around again. This too shall pass.
Except this time, when the slump came, I didn’t soldier on. I found myself thinking ‘What if it doesn’t pass? What if this is it? Everything you have to look forward to, you’ve done before. Your big challenges and changes are all behind you. There is nothing to come but variations of the same old shit and ever-expanding thighs.’
I’m not a stranger to poor mental health. I have all the medications and all the coping mechanisms in place. This felt different. This feeling wasn’t based in my head, it was floating somewhere else, and my usual routines weren’t working.
Oh shit, I thought. This is it. It’s midlife crisis time. I’m turning 39 this year, and I was always an early adopter.
It all culminated on a family holiday in Albany. I was relaxed, I was having plenty of happy feels with my husband and daughter. And my mind had the space to float out and ruminate as I walked the shore looking for shells.
I knew my feelings were probably compounded by the weight I was carrying. I wasn’t happy with my body. The weight I’d put on had gone to my stomach. I could have passed for three months pregnant at the right angle. My half-hearted attempts at fasting were not having the same immediate effect that they had three years ago.
Exercise went back on the list, but it wasn’t just that. I was feeling adrift. I didn’t want a career change, I’ve reached a level of seniority that gives me the flexibility to nurture a work life balance. It was the ‘life’ part that was bugging me.
I know what I like, and I know what I’m good at. So I do it. But getting fresh nails or drawing a kick ass repeat pattern on Procreate are easy highs. Everything just feels so samey, and I don’t know if I can go through the second half of my life doing the same old shit, no matter how much I like it.
My first step is to up the exercise. I enjoy running, and the Couch to 5K has worked for me before. I’ve just turned into a lazy, chip guzzling couch potato who needs to get off her arse and give herself the best chance of happiness.
Next, a trip to the doctor for some advice and a blood test or two. My GP won’t know what’s hit him, I’m usually in and out with a fresh script in 5 minutes.
And of course, I’m doing my research. In the form of listening to stories from women who’ve already tread the path of middle age, starting with Jen Mann and ‘Midlife Bites’ for some humour, and Dr Louann Brizendine with ‘The Upgrade’ for some brain science.
I’m going to embrace this change, jump start my exploration into what its like to become middle aged, and learn how to manage my existential dread in style.