My red patent leather shoes.

I remember being 4 years old at a wedding reception feeling like a ladybird surrounded by giant, cheek pinching hands, ready to ruin my wings, and my mum saying that she needed to speak to someone but to stay right where I was, she’d “be right back”. There was a terrifying crushing in my chest that felt like a bad tummy ache; I fixed my eyes on my wonky reflection in my red patent leather shoes; my chin started to wobble. I had never had such an intense feeling before and never wanted to feel it again. It strangely disappeared when the familiar smell of my mum’s Estee Lauder Youth Dew wafted towards me and I was engulfed in a wave of relief. That sensation came back to me intermittently over the years as it would for any reserved individual, and it would leave me as it came, maybe not as rapidly each time, but the welcome hug of comfort would still be experienced at some point.

That same sensation came to me day, after day, after day, after day when I hit 45 and there wasn’t a whiff of Estee Lauder Youth Dew that would resolve it. Absolutely nothing would resolve it. Its shadow lurked in every corner, successfully wrapping its darkness around my throat; throwing its weight against my chest. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that feeling was anxiety and I was intensely experiencing one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause.

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Where do you hide your tampon?

In my pocket, up my sleeve, tucked in my waist band, even down my knicker line or in my bra are places that I have hidden a tampon in the past so that watching eyes didn’t know why I was going to the toilet! I’d nonchalantly stroll past the faces of those who probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway “nothing to see here, I’m absolutely not bleeding from my nether regions!”

I grew up in an age when periods were talked about in hushed tones and even then it was because you’d forgotten to bring a pad or a tampon and you had to ask a friend the mortifying question “do you have a spare tampon or pad?”  You never talked to friends about your periods. I mean yuck, why you would want to highlight the fact that several days a month, if the miracle egg that we have inside us is not fertilised, then the womb needs to shed its lining ready for the next egg release and that lining exits as blood via the vagina? Disgusting eh? Well that’s the thing, it’s not is it; it’s the awe-inspiring beauty of Mother Nature, yet society has encouraged girls to feel shame about this magnificence and boys to feel confusion or disgust through lack of education and therefore ignorance.

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