This isn’t a pretty post and I should warn you, it comes with a warning that it contains themes of self-hatred.

I hope that you know me as a caring, supportive, positive and inclusive person. I am also no youngster as I approach turning 46 very soon. 46 isn’t old but I am peri-menopausal, or suffering the whirlwind of changes that happen to some women.

One of those is an intensification and change in PMT (pre-menstrual syndrome). I have a couple of months of suffering depression and then I suffer a vicious and horrific attack. It’s hard to put into words, but it feels as if my soul, my mind, my who-I-am is being sandblasted by a high-pressured acidic mix. All of my defence mechanisms are ripped away and my thoughts turn to constant vitriolic attack on myself.

I know that when it happens, the attack will cease about 36 hours later. The trouble is, that by that time, the harm is done. The thoughts have been carved into my mind. They may no longer be an active thought but the groove they have left stays there as a new part of me.

It’s exhausting. I am so exhausted afterwards that I don’t have the emotional energy to fight back. As I try to move forwards, an insidious voice whispers, wondering whether the thoughts in the storm are really the reality and I am just too stubborn to admit it the rest of the time. I often think that my continuing existence is down to pure stubbornness more than anything else.

I know I am not the only person who suffers from this type of PMT, so I am writing this to try to move away from the shame associated with it and to be open.

During the attack, I rip to pieces nearly every part of who I am, including my character. The easiest target for me centres around my body. I have covered how much of a failure I am (this is how I feel) with exercising and weight loss elsewhere. This month, my attack attained a new level of harm. For the first time, I don’t just dislike my body, I loathe, and am ashamed of it. I haven’t felt that shame before. I’m not sure how I will approach letting others take my picture again.

I have only included some of my thoughts in the picture for this post. Some are too nasty for me to verbalise.

I hate how I feel right now. I have been so tempted to stop taking pictures and to walk away. I don’t know whether it is strength, openness or an emotional masochism that is making me share these pictures. I hate how I look in them. I hate how fat I am. I hate that my fat isn’t the beautiful, voluptuous curves I see in others. I am challenging myself to look properly at myself by posting these images. I hope that at some point in the future, I can come back to this post and see it as an event in my history that I healed from. I have to hold on to hope.

Self-care helps to scrub those thoughts away but even with that, a trace still remains.

I’m posting this for both Sinful Sunday and the Menopause Diaries.

The Menopause Diaries

Sinful Sunday

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  1. I had to take a big deep breath after reading this, both for you and for me. For you because I know that menopausal whirlwind you describe so well and I know just how firmly it will have you in its grip when it is present and hungry. And I ache for how hard this is for you. I wish it was otherwise.

    For me because of the memories this has evoked. Hard memories, bitter experiences, deep hurt and harm. Mine manifested in the deepest rage I have ever felt. Vitriolic, acidic, corrosive rage, directed not to myself but to all I held dear. Every institution and person, none were spared, I raged at and burned them all. Then after it was spent I was shattered, bewildered by the depth of feeling and worried about its return.

    I called her the bitch and I wrote about all the ways I would kill her. How I would stab and burn her, Bury her alive and cut off her fingers as they curled up out of the ground and plough them back in.

    I have nothing to offer except solidarity and the possibility of being a scout for the journey ahead. You will come through this. There is light and joy on the other side. Something is being burned away but you will shine through in time.

    Much love x

    • That anger you describe is it. Except that for me it is all turned inwards at myself. I might get curt with others but that is the extent of it.
      Thank you for your comment. As always, there is a solidarity in knowing I’m not alone and that there is a future. Xx

  2. I can relate to those feelings.
    Hugs x

  3. I am unsure what to say. The images are beautiful and terrible at the same time. Wishing you well, as always.

  4. I hope you get through this and the anger dissipates, women endure so much and menopause for a long time has been taboo. As regards to your body you are similar to a vast percentage of women of your age and I hope in due course the words you write will be the opposite.

    • Thank you. It will dissipate. It is temporary. And you are right. I have shared this painful post because there is still a taboo about taking about the more extreme effects of menopause. However, I don’t think my feelings about my shape have anything to do with whether other women my age are similar. Some of the people I think have got the most fantastic bodies are around my age.

  5. Ever since I read this post yesterday, it has been in my mind. Images of your body kept on flashing through my thoughts, but not these images. Closer images. More intimate images. You know what I mean. Those images are of a sexy, confident woman – a strong woman.

    Menopause is a bitch who tries to unhinge the confidence of a woman and it seems in combination with PMT the bitch succeeds. I am so sorry that you have to go through this, sweet friend, that PMT makes you feel this way about yourself. I hope you know that there are so many people who love you for who you are, who love you because you are you and who are there for you to lean on in times like these.

    I’ve sent you a message elsewhere and I meant every word that I said. To me, you are beautiful. Love you, Honey!

    Rebel xox

    • Your comment means so much to me. I am caught in a fight between the way this makes me feel and the positivity that I know is so much more true. Your description of it as a bitch who tries to unhinge confidence rings so very true.
      I hope to hug you and say thank you in person soon.

  6. Just like Rebel I have been thinking about you and this post all day. I feel so much I can’t express it to you. This, despite its pain and despair got you is powerful and brave. Thank you for posting it. I’ve suffered with self loathing for years until my late 30s… I’d better cherish the next couple of stable years! Who knew they’d be so few 😍 lots of love x x x

    • Embrace your beautiful acceptance and remember this is an extreme case and isn’t the norm. I hope you don’t have anything like this ahead of you.

  7. Oh my dear Honey… I am lost for words as I feel like anything I say won’t be things you have not heard from others who are close to you and yet even with those voices the hormones create a whirling dervish of thoughts that overpower what those people say to you and even more so the truth that I think is buried away in your brain. Damn those fucking female hormones, I hate the way they effect me too and mess with my rational brain.

    I hope you feel better soon and I am glad you posted this piece. There is such little open and honest conversation about these topics and that in itself only makes it all the worse to deal with when it happens.

    Big hugs


    • Thank you, lovely. It was a hard one to post but I knew that I can’t be the only person feeling like this, so I thought it was important. Whirling dervish is a good description. Xx

  8. I’m glad you’re scrubbing some of these thoughts away. It’s amazing how our own thoughts and emotions can do the most damage – I hope you heal and look back from a place of strength and honesty – because you’re worth it and beautiful

  9. Like everyone else, this post has stuck with me… I read it last night, thought about it for a while, and came back to it this morning. I can’t empathize with the PMT because I’m not there yet (it’s coming eventually), but can absolutely empathize with the wreckage of hormonal imbalances. I think the images and the symbolism behind them – especially that of you washing away your negative thoughts with self-care – are gutting, but powerful and hopeful. Sending you love from abroad. xx

  10. HCL – I am a very positive person, always looking for the good in people, and the bright side of everything. I have learned that life is way too short to spend even a mere moment fretting or being sad, and instead focus on being happy and loving what I’m doing. If you’re not happy, then change. Only you can do this, and only when you’re ready. Accept who you are, and know what you want to become. Then, slowly and steadily, take those baby steps to get where you want. Don’t look back…just go and do your thing!

    • Thank you. I think you misunderstand the situation. I am a very positive person. This isn’t about developing a better self-esteem. This is the psychological impact of hormonal/chemical changes that cannot be solved by thought alone.

  11. Thank you for sharing this. As I read this I finally understood that I’m not the only one who not only suffers from PMT but also suffers from the hatred of myself that my PMT brings. Because I don’t generally have periods or a cycle I still don’t recognise the symptoms to be what they are.

    There are times I don’t know how I’ve made it through in one piece, then there are those times my self hatred and unbearable anger can also hurt those around me.

    With certain things that are happening in my personal life at the moment it’s bringing my issues to the forefront. I’m terrified of what I could do and more terrified of this getting worse when I become menopausal.

    • Oh, Bee. I am so sorry that you have to deal with it too. It does help to recognise it though as that gives you an extra support/knowledge when it happens. If you log those times, you may be able to recognise the signs and be better prepared to look after yourself.

  12. I saw this on Saturday afternoon, thought about it all the way into town on the train, came back to it a few times yesterday and have now left it to be the last photo I comment on today. I keep coming back to your words and feeling so agonisingly sad that you feel like this. Rather ironically, I was going to be messaging you from the train on Saturday to ask you if you wanted to be one of my February Photo Fest subjects. If I can help you take baby steps back to being photographed by others, I would love to do that for you. Xxx

    • Thank you, gorgeous. I think I can definitely be persuaded to join in… I might be struggling with all of this but I am also a shameless strumpet.

  13. Seriously powerful images. They make me want to hop into the computer screen and hug you. <3 <3

  14. Honey, this breaks my heart in so many ways. You are such a light and inspiration and force of positivity in this community and it hurts to see you hurting. I know that these feelings you have are chemical and not solvable by encouraging words, but please know that you are beautiful. Your curves, your mind, your soul, your artists eye, your sense of humor, and your absolute bravery for writing posts like this in the midst of your pain. xoxo

  15. Pingback: A celebration of bodies | exposing40

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