A UK study has found people aged 40-59 have the lowest levels of happiness and highest levels of anxiety. Not to put too finer point on it but derr. You’ve got huge debts with no disposable income, immense responsibilities of work and family, things are starting to go wrong with your health, and you live with the nagging worry about your aging parents. Good times!
Let’s look at health. From a woman’s perspective you’d think, you would think that some easy years were ahead. You’ve had your period for a good 20+ years, probably given your uterus a work-out a couple of times and had a bit of sex. Instead, you turn 40 and it’s like you’re going through puberty all over again. Back comes the acne, the crippling period pain and periods heavy enough to rival scenes from Dexter. I have friends who have to change their tampon every TWO hours AND have to wear a pad at the same time. My GP nodded with resignation when I was telling him this. He said, “welcome to your 40s”.
I’m not even talking about menopause, that’s a warzone deserving of its whole own article. A group of my friends got onto talking about the lady garden and it turns out the lining of the bladder thins, that’s why you need to go to the toilet all the time, as do parts of your vagina, so much so they.can.rip. when you’re having sex. You’re welcome.
Then there was the pain that developed in my thumb joints. I thought it was too much texting. No, that would be early signs of arthritis.
Then there was the gallbladder, the thyroid, the massive weight gain then the weird gut issues which have you eyeing gluten with suspicion while armed with the knowledge of where every public toilet is wherever you go.
THEN there is the whole realm of your finances. You *might* be reaching a point in your career when you’re flying and being handsomely recompensed – jog it in sunshine. For the rest of us there is often a slow dawning that you don’t really like what you do anymore but there are too many strings – mortgage, rent, school fees, bills, – being pulled for this puppet to try any new tricks.
And how’s your marriage or relationship panning out? If you’re anything like mine we had one rough patch too many and my husband walked out. Surprise! If you talk to each other and have each other’s back you may get through the next 20 years alive. Meanwhile the rest of us are skulking around on online dating sites watching our will to live evaporate.
And then there’s your kids. If you’ve had them more recently you are still in the grip of childcare or primary school both of which carry their own forms of torture – toddlerdom, h.o.m.e.w.o.r.k., more notes than drafted in parliament. Or you have teenagers. I think teens are pretty awesome but I have two good ones. Ask me when the younger two hit their stride. A friend of mine is as sleep deprived as a new parent at the moment because she and her husband are doing night watch to stop their daughter sneaking out.
And your parents. Sometimes a cancer scare, often a joint replacement or four and realising they walk more carefully and are very consciously trying not to fall. The worry of ailing parents is unparalleled.
Look, there are some fantastic things about being in this bracket – your friends and alcohol. You don’t care about what’s in this season as you wore it when you were 10 and don’t care for it a second time around. You look at stilettos then choose the orthotic option to accommodate the bunions you got from wearing stilettos. You get less het up about what the government is doing because you know there’ll be a new one soon and you have no time for people who make you feel bad about yourself.
But otherwise, you’ll excuse us if we’re not as cheery as all get-up.