Do the following symptoms refer to (a) the onset of menopause or (b) life during the pandemic era? You may wish to share your answers with a trusted telemedical provider.
1. You had a fairly robust vocabulary once upon a time. But in recent months, I just can’t are the only words you’re able to string together (or use interchangeably) in response to a wide range of undertakings. Reheating leftovers? Scheduling a Zoom coffee clutch with one your favorite former colleagues—the one you bumped into at Trader Joe’s last week, whose name you just can’t remember?
2. You experience memory loss. Incidentally, you are nostalgic for all the things you used to do (however unfun they were at the time) and the people with whom you did them (even if you didn’t care so much for them in the first place).
3. You try to come up with this former colleague’s name but nothing sticks. You could probably just ask another one of your old, less-favorite colleagues to refresh your memory but that would involve making contact through Facebook and, nope, can’t.
4. You feel that hell is other people—on Facebook. And their puppies.
5. Why do casual interactions—on-screen, at TJ’s, lined up single-file at the gate by the schoolyard—just, like, deplete you of mental energy? And also cause you to break out in a sweat? Is it the mask? Or your ovaries, stupid?
6. You Google “symptoms of…” a lot just to make sure you’re not going crazy and/or dying.
7. The front-desk attendants at your neighborhood City MD don’t need to ask for your DOB anymore. But you keep showing up to get any number of tests, just to make sure that everything is “fine.”
8. Nothing is fine. It never is, lately. Even the fine lines around your brow have become bold grooves from all that existential wear and tear.
9. You look angry, actually. That’s because you always are. But you can’t remember, much less articulate, why. Your brain is on lockdown and your body is no rural Airbnb. You are just—stuck. It’s not natural to feel this way! Unless this is the hand that nature has dealt and you just have to live with it?
10. You wonder whether someday there will be a cure, and that everything you’re experiencing now will be a thing of the past—like polio, or belts for sanitary napkins.
11. OK, fine: Guilty as charged. You want a puppy. You know they’re a lot of work but you ask yourself: How hard could it be, really? You’ve had children, surely you could handle chew toys and street-side waste management? No more excuses about being too can’t-even/sweaty/self-conscious without Botox to walk out the door. You have nothing but time, these days, and let’s face it: You could use the dog-walking exercise.
12. You must find a way to exercise gratitude, too. You’re healthy! You’re alive! What is there to complain about? Besides the line at CityMD, that is.
13. Your old colleague emailed you first. Her name is Allison. You used to call her Alli, remember? She would love to meet up at Tompkins Square Park sometime. She can’t wait for you to meet her new puppy. ❏
Elizabeth Wildman works in book publishing. She lives in NYC.
Photo by Edna Berti Wildman