Seeing the funny side of menopause
They say menopause is no laughing matter!
For Harriet Beveridge that’s debatable.
PositivePause were introduced to the hilariously funny Harriet at the Edinburgh Fringe 2108, in her menoPAUSE show.
Harriet’s serious about seeing the funny side of menopause. She recently appeared on Radio 4’s Four Thought - Taking Humour Seriously.
Harriet gives us the low-down on how she started stand up and why menopause became her chosen topic.
I’m a business coach, keynote speaker, author, stand-up comic and a mum. In other words, I haven’t yet decided what I want to do when I grow up. People ask me why I do such a variety of things, but I reckon they are all simply different sides of the same dodecahedron. They all involve challenging assumptions and seeing things differently.
I guess the desire to do stand up started at school. I was an uber-geek. Straight A’s, Head girl – my DNA is fully nerd-encoded. Making other people laugh was essential self-defence. In my twenties, a mate signed up for a stand-up comedy course and I tagged along. The course involved 6 weeks pratting around in a church hall and then the last week was a proper-actual-OMG-this-is-for-real-what-was-I-thinking gig at the legendary Kings Head in Crouch End. I was hooked.
My material is all drawn from personal experience. My first Edinburgh Fringe run was about new motherhood, the next about ageing. I was scratching my head about material for my third run, when the universe lovingly stepped in and gave me the peri-menopause, bless it.
I was absolutely, utterly, totally clueless about the menopause. I had never even heard of the perimenopause. As I experienced some weird and scary symptoms, I was gobsmacked that here was this honking great important transition and NO ONE WAS TALKING ABOUT IT. How on earth could something affecting 51% of the population directly and 100% of the population pretty much directly be so secret? And if you are reading this in an all-male monastery, following a vow of silence, what about your mum eh? Or if you’re at the monastery because you’ve fallen out with her, then I bet you’ve got a female postie who could be suffering hot flushes in her nylon uniform or anxiety about the dog at number 32, or hiding hair loss under that cap (turns out the menopause has more symptoms than Kim Kardashian has shoes).
It felt like I’d fallen into a time warp, back to the eighties: I remember as a kid going on a playdate to a mate’s house and their mum’s tampax falling out of her shopping bag. The mum had been mortified and my friend needed to ask me what they were for. I ended up telling this 10 year old all about menstruation because no-one else had. At the time that felt utterly bonkers and here I am 35 years later feeling exactly the same way about, ahem ‘last stop at the menstruation express’. If only I’d know about the perimenopause up front, it would have saved me months of completely unnecessary suffering and saved the NHS a shedload of time and money.
I think things are getting better – there is more media coverage than even a year ago – but until every GP has been trained up, every woman – and man - educated on symptoms and options, every employer made aware of how to support staff, every media depiction of midlife women is rounded….. I think we need to keep raising awareness very actively.
I’d love to say that I wrote my Oestrogen Armageddon show to do just that, but to be ruthlessly honest, it was a way to cathartically and get my head round it all. Being even more ruthlessly honest, I worried there was ‘yuck’ factor, that doing a show about it would be a bit cringe. But I’m a passionate believer that humour is very powerful for tackling serious subjects in a non-threatening way. I hoped that if a few people could be saved the unnecessary bafflement, misdiagnosis and stress I went through, then that would be a massive win.
I’m not pushing any agenda with the show. I’ve got nothing to sell, no course of action I’m hectoring people to follow. I just want to share my experience in the hope that it will raise awareness, start conversations and help folks find their own way forward.
I love working with Positive Pause, because – as the name suggests – they are all about the good stuff. They create really warm, safe, friendly events where people can get informed, feel connected and make their own choices. I MC’d their recent London event and it was fantastic. I can’t wait for Manchester…see you all there!
Find out more about Harriet’s work at harrietbeveridge.com
We’re absolutely delighted that Harriet is our MC for the day and performing her menoPAUSE ‘Oestrogen Armageddon’ act at our PostivePause Feelgood Fair in Manchester on Saturday 5th October 2019.