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Changes: Lorraine Candy

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Annie [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to Changes. It is Annie Macmanus here with an episode this week speaking on something that affects everyone, whether it is your mother or your sister or your aunt or your colleague or your neighbour or your wife, everyone will have a woman in their life who will go through menopause. I've spoken about menopause in this podcast before with the great menopause awareness evangelist Davina McCall. I know that it's a huge period of great change, both physiologically and mentally, and that this change sends ripples into every aspect of women's lives, and a lot of the time is happening around other circumstantial change, like kids leaving home or elderly parents becoming ill. The overall effect is seismic to a woman's life. There's a reason that the highest rates of divorce are between the ages of 45 and 49, and the highest rates of suicide among women is between 45 and 49. Women are literally overwhelmed by change. I want to learn. I want to know. I'm 45 years old. I am on the cusp of all this drama. So I am going to speak to today, a woman who has had profound personal experience of the disruption and disorientation that midlife can bring and who has made it her mission to learn about it and share her learnings with other women around the world. Lorraine Candy was editor in chief of Elle magazine, Cosmopolitan, and the Sunday Times Style and is now host of the podcast and Postcards from Midlife alongside fellow ex magazine editor Trish Halpin. She's also written a book about her experience of midlife called What's Wrong With Me: 101 Things Midlife Women Need to Know. Lorraine Candy, great to have you here. 

Lorraine [00:01:40] Oh thank you for having me, it's a real privilege. 

Annie [00:01:42] I'm 45 now, so you've got ten years on me. So your life at 45- so you were editing Elle magazine. You had four children. You were travelling the world. I mean, on paper, the most glamorous, fun, busy lifestyle. When did you first start noticing that something was amiss and how did that feel? What was that something? 

Lorraine [00:02:02] I guess around 47. So I had my last child at 43, I've got four and there's a ten year gap between the youngest and the eldest, and my eldest is 21 now. So I was around 47. So I had a 5 year old in school and the job was quite busy, but I'd always really dealt with it. I mean, I would say it was addicted to it. I flourished on the manic busyness of my job. I really loved it, I had brilliant childcare, but I just started to get what I called the creeping sadness. And I'd never really had any issues around my mental health in my life, I'd never been anxious, I'd never had panic attacks, I'd never really worried. You know, you could be down, you could be up, but I was really sad. And it was- it just kind of sort of- like ink spread into my life and every day I would think, why do I feel so awful? Why do I feel so bleak and dark? And I would have these moments at work where I'd have to go in the cupboard- I remember going in the coat cupboard just to stand very still and think, I just am feeling the worst of feelings. It's the worst of feelings. And then I had a panic attack on my doorstep on the way to work one morning and it was a really- I couldn't dismiss it because the ground was moving and I was nauseous, I felt very sick and I was just overwhelmed with this inexplicable fear. And I did a lot of research because, you know, I'm a journalist so I thought this is- this is for me to find out what's going on, and I just couldn't find any information. And then I thought, well, I must do- I've probably got a brain tumour then, that's what I've got. Something's pressing on something in my brain and I'll sort it out. But it got, it just got worse. And I, I did a lot of sort of distraction stuff, you know, I started exercising a lot. I'd get up really early in the morning to write great big lists because I was forgetting everything. I was going into a room and thinking, not only do I not recognise some of these people in here, I just don't know why I'm here. And it was it's terrifying. And it's not you know, it's not unusual. It's really not unusual. So many women go through this and you can sort it out. So that's the joy of it, is there is an answer. There are solutions to this. So I don't want to frighten anyone listening because I think that's unfair for women because we got a lot on in midlife. But it was- that's how it began and it is you know, it is destabilising and discombobulating. 

Annie [00:04:19] I suppose the advantage, as you said, to having your job is that you have this kind of forensic curiosity to understand things, but also you have the agency to be able to speak to the experts and commission articles *laughs*, you know, so you were able to go and speak to people about the menopause at the time, right? Tell me about the transition, the change to going on to HRT and what that did for you. 

Lorraine [00:04:40] I thought it might be menopause and I'd been to the doctor and the GP, I'd been twice actually and they'd said we can give you anti-depressants and I thought there's just no history in my family, it just doesn't feel instinctively the thing that will cure what's happening to me, and I thought, well, it would be menopause, that could be the only explanation having done all the research and I was told twice no, you're way too young, that's simply not what it is. 

Annie [00:05:05] And you were 47? 

Lorraine [00:05:06] I was 47. So what I was going through was perimenopause. So when we hear about all the symptoms, what we're actually hearing about most of the time is perimenopause which is the ten or so years leading into the menopause. It's very different for every woman. Every woman's experience is different. And in that time, your hormones are fluctuating wildly. I mean, you've got oestrogen one day, then you have none. So there's no test for it because it's such a variation and it's very personal to the woman going through it and oestrogen is in every part of your body so it makes everything possible and it's particularly in your brain, so that- you're not imagining this brain fog, you're not imagining, you know- I got in the car one day and I couldn't work out which side of the road I was supposed to be on. I just couldn't remember. I couldn't open any drawer in my brain to find out where I was supposed to be on the road and that's a lack of oestrogen in my brain stopping it working. It's like petrol for the body, oestrogen. When I looked at the facts and the huge amount of misinformation and the awful scaremongering for women and the misogyny and furious denial of it by the patriarchy, and I am going to say that because that is exactly what has happened, I found that I could- you know, I was a good candidate for HRT. And for me, within a week, it did change my life. I mean, I was incredibly lucky, I guess. And as I say, every woman's journey is different. Within a month I could sleep again, I wasn't covered in sweat all night, I wasn't depressed- because I had depression is what I had, and I could remember things. 

Annie [00:06:31] How long was it, I suppose, from feeling that first creeping sadness to being on HRT? 

Lorraine [00:06:37] I think sort of three, four years.  

Annie [00:06:41] That's a fucking long time. 

Lorraine [00:06:41] It's a long time. 

Annie [00:06:42] That's a long time to feel all those feelings.

Lorraine [00:06:46] *Laughing* mad! 

Annie [00:06:46] God, yeah, yeah, yeah. So you talk about how even after having HRT, something had shifted. There's a quote where you say 'you're in this place where you aren't defined by your motherhood, you're not defined by your usefulness, society slightly undervalues you and makes you feel a little bit invisible'. So tell me what the void is. 

Lorraine [00:07:06] So the void is the pause between act one and act two. So this is a kind of reckoning. It's where you look back and you look forward. And your act one is teenage times, set your identity, then your job or your career or whatever you want to do in your twenties and thirties, and then it may be for some of us, family in your thirties and forties, and then it's what next? Because you know, from a society point of view, you're old by that point. You get to 48, 49, you think, hold on, I don't- there isn't a path that's been drawn out here for us in society. It's not clear to me anymore. So you have to sit and think about what might that path be. You know, there's a pause isn't there? And there's a pause to say, hold on, I'm going to review what's just, I've just gone through, what was great and useful can I take forward? What did I like? What didn't I like? A lot of women had expectations that hadn't been met by this stage of life, so they were very worried about how will- you know, if I haven't even got to this bit- it's just absolutely not where I wanted to be so that weighs heavily, I think, on women but maybe it is where you need to be. Maybe something different will come up and it's worth sitting in this place for a bit and asking questions. And I guess I've been in it for about three or four years since changing jobs and everything so, you know, who knows what happens next. I think you have to be open and curious in this bit of life. 

[00:08:26] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:08:36] So when we asked you in advance of this conversation about the biggest change of adult life, you gave three things, three huuuge things. Empty nest, your children leaving home, going through menopause and being made redundant, all happening at the same time during a pandemic. How did they individually affect your sense of self? 

Lorraine [00:08:56] I think it was dismantled really, my sense of self, and that puts you in a slightly rickety place I think. Suddenly you are just a very different person. I've been in an office since I was 17 and then it all ended in the summer in lockdown *laughs* and just before we were about to send my 18 year old off to university to do her mechanical engineering. So I was in this place where it all just gradually began to fall apart. From a job point of view, I'm a print journalist, I knew that was coming. It was a really sensible thing. It just made sense. So in a way I was a bit more prepared and I was able to have that ritual of a full stop and to know that will be my last issue. It was all very friendly, this is how this will work, this is how I'll miss my team. But then I would wake up on a- other morning and, you know, couple of months afterwards and think, well who am I today? Where should I go? What do I wear? You're just there in a room trying to sort of motivate yourself *both laugh*, thinking what does this mean? Shall I have a biscuit and a cup of tea and that will move me forward a bit in the day? 

Annie [00:10:02] *Laughs* I relate. 

Lorraine [00:10:03] I felt so guilty. I mean, I thrive on human connection. I didn't- for the last few years at Elle, and at the Sunday Times, I didn't have an office. I was on the floor. We had a hot desk at Elle and I moved around. So I wasn't that traditional Devil Wears Prada editor because I like to be in the middle of people. I like to be there talking all the time. I mean, that's the joy of doing a podcast, I do get to meet loads of people but I had to change my identity, but at the same time I didn't like the stress of it. So I was relieved of this giant stress that had been my life. But then at the same time, I would pick up the phone and say, I'm Lorraine Cany from... *laughs* where am I from?What am I? So it had been such a strong- I think in the book I describe it- it's a bit like ivy around a tree and then suddenly you're so wound into the tree, so tightly part of the tree, there's no separating you. You are the tree or the ivy. You're just- you know, I was my job. And, you know, my mothering was four children over ten years, and I wrote a column about it as well so  it was sort of what I was defined by. It came into the room ahead of me, everybody knew I had four children so- and suddenly I only had three children at home. And one of them didn't re- you know, she wanted to go off and start her own new life. And I mean, it takes, I think about three or four years to sort of settle after you've had such a rigid, structured life. I think it really did affect me physically. I was on HRT, but even then I began to have these horrendous nightmares and weird dreams, and then I would fall asleep in the middle of the day- because it's very discombobulating a total change of life, you know? 

Annie [00:11:39] Yeah. And I mean, you just had to have three such extreme ones that are real contributing to, as you say, a dismantling of your identity. It's kind of like the scaffolding comes down and it feels and sounds brutal but what was it that first gave you a kind of spark of optimism? 

Lorraine [00:11:56] I mean, I always want to put it in context. I wasn't you know, I wasn't in the pandemic working, you know, in hospitals or anything like that so it's not as stressful as- anywhere near as stressful as other people were going through but it was the other women that put it all together for me. It was a really strange- I started to make new friends *laughs* just like this. 

Annie [00:12:16] Oh, listen, that is just-

Lorraine [00:12:18] Which is just like the weirdest thing in mid-life. Like the kind of thing my 12 year old says when she comes back from a party covered in Wotsits and 'so I've made a new friend today'. I was saying sometimes to my husband, 'ooh, I've made a new friend today' *laughs*. 

Annie [00:12:28] And where were you meeting these new friends?

Lorraine [00:12:31] I made some expert friends on social media. I'd written a book about parenting teenagers and I made some friends with people who were doing that, who were going through what I was going through who were local. And then, you know, I swim. The community around lakes and the sea and all of that is midlife women. It is honestly, it's 80%- 

Annie [00:12:50] I see them. Whenever I go to the ponds, it's an army of women, midlife women, I see them. I'm intrigued. 

Lorraine [00:12:56] Well I go- because I'm from Cornwall I go back a lot and I swim with a Facebook group down there called the The Owls, the Open Water Leisure Swimmers. It was my son- my 16 year old son calls it the Old Women Leisure Swimmers *Annie laughs*. We don't speak to each other all the time, but when we meet we talk about what we're going through, or someone will say 'oh, I'm going-'. I just started saying yes to everything and being part of different worlds that I wasn't, hadn't been in before. You know, I met a writer called Tanya Shadrick who's from Devon, who'd written this amazing book about her change in life called The Cure for Sleep, where she was having an affair with someone, and she wanted to see if it was possible to live with her husband and the man she was having an affair with. And it was just a really you know, she'd worked as a guide in hospices as well, so she'd learnt a lot from people at the end of their life. And I just met her and we chatted a night and she had this idea of, you write a list of 100 things that bring you joy, which sounds very simple but by the time you get to about 60, you're really going deep and dragging on the big stuff and your life starts to change. So I did that. 

Annie [00:13:58] And when you say things, is it people? 

Lorraine [00:14:02] Well it starts with, you know, I like a cup of tea in the morning with a Hobnob biscuit, I like this, and then it's like, yes. And then it becomes, I like it when someone understands, you know, the feelings I have when I walk into a room and I've got no qualifications and everyone else has, or someone understands the shame I feel around what I just said to one of my teenagers, that it's just the worst thing, I should never have done that, you know? It makes you really think and it was these women around me that made me think in a different way, that made me realise, you know, it's our identities are a constantly evolving thing anyway so we are not set. We feel like we should be and we say a lot of things like, oh, I'm the kind of person that does this, or you know, I don't really enjoy that and none of these things are true. You can get to midlife and think, well, maybe I am the kind of person that can go out a whole evening and not have glass of wine or get really drunk. Maybe I do enjoy that *laughs*. You know, maybe I say I don't watch films with subtitles but actually maybe I do, you know, but it goes bigger than that. Maybe I'm not the person who can do that kind of thing because I'm not brave enough or I'm not clever enough, and you start to really look at that because you see women doing amazing things and I would say that connection to other women, and it is women because that journey is very different for men I think because the context of life is easier for them, it really is, once I saw these women I just thought that's it, they'll help me build my identity. That's where I'll find it. 

Annie [00:15:32] Can I ask about the friends that you already had and I suppose your relationship to your long term friends? And did you find in this transition that you lost some of them? 

Lorraine [00:15:47] I think what happened was I, I didn't lose friends, I just realised that I was different and therefore I needed a different feeling around me every day, perhaps. There were some friends who were really draining on me from an energy point of view. You really learn who is going to be there and who isn't when you are, you're stepping out of a big, big job and you don't have that power or influence as people see it, because everyone views you in a different way from their own context or their own background. So some people see it as a really important thing. So yeah, I lost that. But I also realised that I hadn't been a great friend. So I looked at some people and I thought, oh hold on, your mum was dying of cancer and I wasn't there. I wasn't you know, I was busy. I didn't check in. I wasn't in that place for you, because now I'm feeling it when people aren't checking in- it really made me review the kind of person I was in my friendship group. Was I listening or was I just responding? Was I just being funny all the time because people like it when you're funny all the time? Was I actually in the place I should be for these people? A few people I don't think I was. I mean, I think I had a friend who really did go through a sort of break down in her midlife era, and I just wasn't there. I was just annoyed that she wasn't, you know, as free and easy as she was before, she'd been so unproblematic and now and I don't think I was there. I mean, we've since had a conversation about it, but I think it really made me think about that friendship group from that point of view. 

[00:17:21] *Short musical intgerlude*

Annie [00:17:31] Can I ask about your opinion on the change in terms of discourse when it comes to menopause? You know, there hasn't been a public discourse about it before, and I wanted to know why you thought it's taken until now. 

Lorraine [00:17:44] Well it's the patriarchy, that's why *laughs*. 

Annie [00:17:46] Talk to me. 

Lorraine [00:17:47] *Laughing* I don't want to- I don't want to refer you to the-. 

Annie [00:17:51] No do! Please go! 

Lorraine [00:17:51] You know, just the way the medical profession views women's pain. Now, we can all keep quiet about that if we want and we can all say women have been going through it for years, it didn't really affect me so I don't really want to hear your story. Or we can remember the women who, before they were on HRT, wanted to take their own lives. So we know those women and they were plunged into the worst kind of mental disorder out of the blue because of their hormonal fluctuations, because they didn't know there was something available for them that would help and that the negativity around it is based on a 20 year old survey that was hugely flawed and inaccurate, so that is a constant baseline for me. If you know a woman who was going to take her life before she was given HRT, really you just can't listen to all these voices of women saying, 'well, it didn't affect me' or 'everyone's going through it'. You just can't because I don't want any woman to be in that place because we just didn't know about it. All we want is that information out there. We don't want to say, let's talk about it all the time, this is defining us, this weakness is defining us. We're saying, like we now know when teenage girls go through a lot of hormonal changes and they're put on the pill that they might have endometriosis, they might have the beginning of PCOS, we don't know this stuff, we don't talk about it. We're still on the same pills we were on 20, 30 years ago. That's not real either. That shouldn't be happening. So there's such a huge level of misinformation and dismissive attitude to women's pain in the NHS, in all medical profession globally, that we're just trying to redress that balance, I think. 

Annie [00:19:29] Drop the mic Lorraine!

Lorraine [00:19:30] The male media- so you look at the headlines, men are in charge of the subs desks, I'm not spouting this off the top of my head, this is the job I did for, you know, it's quite a male environment a newspaper like The Daily Mail or The Sunday Times. It's changing and that's great, but it is still quite a male environment. I tried to get women in sport- the Sports Woman of the Year awards through at the Sunday Times and I could write a whole book about, no one will ever watch women's football being the most common used phrase for that. So in terms of getting this stuff into newspapers and the way it's portrayed- so it does feel a bit like it is very negative because those are the headlines, because everything in the mainstream media at the moment is black and white. You are pro HRT or you are not pro HRT, but it's not- there's a ton of grey in between. There's a ton of grey in between. It's only podcasts like this, books like I've written where you can have that discussion. So of course The Guardian is going to run a headline 'why are we all talking about HRT?', there are a lot of women writing those pieces because they haven't been plunged into the horror that the other side of a lot of women have been plunged into. So I do think it should be there, but I think it's about giving the right information, ignoring the ridiculous sensationalist headlines and actually sharing our own knowledge amongst ourselves. And then now we all know we won't need that to define us, we can talk about all the positive stuff, you know? Not every midlife woman wants to look like J-Lo. That's her actual job, to look like J-Lo. So there's all those headlines about suddenly all these women want to look sexy, suddenly all these women want to blah, blah, blah. It's just that, it's a back bench male chief sub writing that headline because it gets a thousand comments underneath and it powers their website and all their advertising, you know how it works so let's just ignore it, get the information out there and make sure women get what they need and the support they need and that they can talk about it out loud because they're leaving their jobs, they're leaving their husbands. I had the woman who travelled halfway around the world to start a whole new life because she didn't know what was the matter with her - left her job, left her husband, left everything. She said if I'd been on HRT, I probably would've just stayed and just asked for a four day week and gone to marriage guidance counselling. 

Annie [00:21:37] *Laughs* oh my god!! 

Lorraine [00:21:37] *Laughs* so I just don't want that to ha- women are making ill informed decisions because of something- your generation, Annie, won't make those decisions because you'll think, ooh I'm just going to read about HRT, whether it's going to work for me, I'm just going to check on whether I can do this or whether I've got a thyroid problem or whether, you know, my previous fertility issues might affect this. I'll just get it all joined up, it'll all be more joined up for your generation. So it will be less of an issue. The negativity would be less of an issue. Sorry, sermon over. 

Annie [00:22:07] No, I loved that. May I say thank you on behalf of me and my peers and friends and you know, anyone who listens to this podcast, people like Davina and you and Trish, I mean, you are vital because the amount of people I know who have had this kind of complete revelation about, you know, menopause, having known nothing. You know, my mum was the woman who was like, *Irish accent* 'I didn't get it, it was fine, no, we just, you know, we just got on with it'. So, you know, we all kind of have that in common, a lot of our own mothers who maybe weren't, you know, educated enough about it to be able to define, you know, when they could have gone through menopause, or maybe they didn't. You know, it doesn't affect everyone, as you said. 

Lorraine [00:22:48] Well, I looked back at that and I think it's a shame. 

Annie [00:22:51] It's shame. 

Lorraine [00:22:53] I think that generation of women felt really shameful about what- when I couldn't work out what side of the road to drive on, I was ashamed of myself. I interviewed a woman for the book who had been one of the first ever female long haul pilots of her generation, and she was in her late fifties so, you know, quite a lot older than me as a generation. She couldn't park her car. She said, I never tell anyone what I used to do because they think I'm an idiot and it's so shameful that I'm at a stage in my life where I can't do anything when I used to do something so amazing. I'm ashamed of who I am now. So I think perhaps that generation before us, A we didn't listen to them, they might have said it but maybe we didn't really ask them the questions or listen to them. And B, I think they were ashamed, and I think to completely break down when you've been in charge of family life, it must feel terrible. And I think that shame, perhaps you just deny it, don't you, because you don't want to share it and you don't want it out there and you don't want to feel a failure and you have a sense of dignity and respect around and you don't want to lose respect in your family or your community. So I think that's a lot of what was going on. But I just think there's no excuse for the women who say, I didn't feel it, so I don't know why everyone's talking about it, they should just be quiet. 

Annie [00:24:11] What about privilege and menopause? I'm conscious that this is a big, big issue. You know, women who are working class are not able to go and see a hormone specialist or go and see a private, you know, menopause Doctor. The NHS is at such a stretch. You yourself got diagnosed anti-depressants, as have so many women, I hope that that is changing now a little bit but, you know, I suppose what's your opinion on that with regards to the menopause discourse at large? Are enough women benefiting from this? 

Lorraine [00:24:44] No, they really, really aren't. It's an absolute shocking scandal. So at this time of a cost of living crisis, we are hearing that women, because it's so expensive to feed their children, are just not getting their prescription because that's where they're going to save the money. So they're going-.

Annie [00:25:00] And how much does it cost to go on HRT? 

Lorraine [00:25:01] It's £9.95 for a years- whatever your prescription is or- it just- and A, those women, I think black and brown women have an appalling- compared to white women have an appalling experience with the NHS. There's been a lot of research on that. There are very few voices of menopause who are black or brown. There is a growing voice because it's a very different experience for some women. I did talk to a doctor about this, in the gynaecologists about this in the book, and  we go on at lengths about how different cultures view the menopause and the change, but just the access for women who are not privileged, white, middle class women like me that can afford to pay for help is really, really difficult. No, not enough women are and I think wherever I can, I will always hear the voices and say, right, these are the resources. This is what I mean about getting the resources out for everybody and just getting that knowledge that if you were a black woman going into hospital, going into A&E, your experience will be very different from me as a white woman going in there, and it will be very negatively different. 

[00:26:03] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:26:13] What do you see with regards to, you know, the economy and the economies acceptance of women in menopause? You know, we know we haemorrhage women around the age of 45 in, you know, big businesses. You and I are perfect examples of that. We left. And I'm not saying I left or you left because of menopause, but I definitely left because of some of the reasons of midlife coming in and being unavoidable. How do we keep women in businesses? How do we allow the boardrooms to fill up with women in later life? 

Lorraine [00:26:50] Well, I mean, you've only got to look at the headline in the paper today about female surgeons. 

Annie [00:26:54] Oh, it's horrific. Can you explain that for those who won't have seen it?

Lorraine [00:26:57] Yeah, okay. So the headline in- I think it's, um it's a Times investigation, it's a really powerful investigation into a third of female surgeons have been sexually abused or raped by their colleagues, by male surgeons. 

Annie [00:27:09] In the operating theatre? 

Lorraine [00:27:10] At work, yeah. But you think it can't get worse? It gets worse. So we know, from another survey that was out two weeks ago, that if you are operated on by a female surgeon, your chances of survival are better than being operated on by a male surgeon. But we also know female surgeons drop out because it's really not conducive to their family life and the the 90% responsibility the female women take for family life. So they drop out or they're raped and abused at work and it takes them ages to get into that particular discipline anyway of surgery. And the environment is so misogynist and horrific because there's no reporting structure. So that's the thing that will change. So it is a very negative, terrible story. But these stories are popping up in every single industry. And, you know, I feel like the patriarchy doesn't serve anyone. So actually, if you're a male patient, your life is now at risk because of the way it works for surgeons *laughs*. So that's just a small example, and we know it from the other industries and I feel like we've worked round it for quite a long time and actually now this generation is not- well, I'm not working round it ever again and I don't think- you know, so I'll step out rather than work round it. And I think a lot of women make that point as well. And it is a very difficult time physically for women in the way that teenage is quite difficult for women as well with all these hormonal issues that are going on. You get the right support, everything is fine, you get the right information, everything is fine. I certainly think that business- Channel Four has a really great menopause policy, actually. But some businesses have really worked out they want to keep those really experienced women. They've got to give them the medical support they need if they need it, or at least allow them to talk about what they're going through as well. You know, because there are times of the month when it's very difficult for women to be at their very best. So it's about being more open and understanding and working together. I really think you have to work with the men in every industry  to make them just sort of understand. I wrote a piece about burnout because I think a lot of what I went through alongside perimenopause was I was completely burned out having worked non-stop from the age of 17, had a family, and really needed in my own head to have been a success at every single thing. I could not drop any balls anywhere. So I think I was a little bit burnout and I think that was contributing to the sleep, but a man wrote to me saying that he'd given the piece to his wife because he was really worried about her, because he thought she was burnt out. She was 48, she was all over the place, she was very cross he said, and he just didn't know what was wrong, how could he help her? And I think a lot of men are asking, how can I help? You know, so we need to listen to men in the industry as well and I think we need to listen to the enormous pressure the patriarchy puts men under with this weird and warped sense of masculinity as well. So I think both sides need some support and help around the context of the society structure we live in, which really doesn't work for anybody. So it needs to be dismantled and started again and it really can't be men versus women, it just has to be all of us working together to say this human needs this, this human needs that. I think it's like neurodiversity isn't it? We know so much more about it and I look back and I had obviously managed team members with ADHD or undiagnosed autism, particularly girls, and I didn't know anything about it. As a boss, if I had known about it, I would have thought, oh hold on, this meeting structure is not going to work for so-and-so because their brain can't handle it, but in the business now I would know about it. So it's the same thing isn't it, I'm not saying single women out, we just want to know how everybody works and what everyone needs and then we can accommodate it based on what the business needs as well. And I think it's really that simple, isn't it? I don't know. I might be being naive. 

[00:30:58] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:31:08] What change, Lorraine Candy, would you still like to make in your life? 

Lorraine [00:31:13] I said something very grand, I think. 

Annie [00:31:15] You said a very beautiful line, you said, 'as an older woman, I suddenly feel there's something undone inside me waiting to come out. So I'm hoping to embrace the fertile void, as they call it, and discover what that is. There's something undone'. 

Lorraine [00:31:27] It's the something I haven't nurtured maybe, that I would quite like to do. I feel like I need to- now I've kind of gone through the reckoning, looked back, there's some things I need to look at I think, about how how I was, how I grew up and all of those things and I think I need to work that out. And then I think I want to do something totally different. There's a huge surge of creativity for all midlife women, actually, I think all the women I spoke to felt that there was this real need to satisfy an itch that they hadn't. You know, whether it's writing or painting or just travelling or seeing other bits of the world and living in it. I'd like to live in a different country for a bit when all of the children have finally moved on, I'd like to see whether there's some other career or industry that I might be able to be valuable in and offer some help, but not to go in it from a, you know, linear up, up, up, up, but more in a kind of, sort of flat sort of, where can I put what I've got in my skillset into your world that will be really helpful? Because I'm sure I can, but it won't be media and it won't be, you know, the podcast will keep going and we'll keep doing that but I just feel like there's a little something that I haven't done that needs to be done from a creative point of view in life. I think it'll come to me at some point. It's like planting a- I mean, I grew a dahlia this year. I'm the worst cook *Annie laughs*. I'm shit in the kitchen. I've got no domestic skills whatsoever. I think the washing machine has to be explained to me almost every time I go and see it, and that's about four times a day. And I grew this dahlia in the summer and I just couldn't believe I'd done it! And it feels like there's a little seed inside me *laughs* of this bizarre miracle that might grow. And I don't know, it just feels like I haven't done the thing that I'm probably meant to do yet, which is a really lovely place to be and that's what I'm saying to younger women. You will get to this place and think, oh my goodness, I can do a thing I've never done. It's possible. It's really possible. And it's that joy and hope that you sort of have when you're a teenager and you think, oh my God, the whole world is out there. I can just go and grab it now and I can do all these things and I was so desperate to get to it, I did it at 17 and it feels a bit like that again now. 

Annie [00:33:45] It's so funny, isn't it? Because our whole lives, we're kind of, you know, suggested to believe that growing older as a woman is growing drier and, you know, you're barren, you're you know, everything, not just, you know, not just physically, but just everything is slower and less exciting. But actually what you're describing is the absolute opposite of that. It's a rebirth. It's a whole new phase of your life. It's a new beginning. 

Lorraine [00:34:09] It is. You know, there's a lot of parts of the world where older women are so revered, they're so important to the community that they're offered all sorts of kind of quite high profile positions where they can make decisions and advise and do all of that and for them it is a new beginning, a second spring, I think, as they call it in Japan, a second spring. It just feels to me like that that is a really big possibility ahead of me and I think you can feel that hope, even if you've lost people, you've been through terrible times, you're struggling financially, that little sense of hope is- women are good at it, they're good at finding the good bits of it and they got those skills and especially when they stop worrying about what everyone else thinks or what else is going on or what everyone else is doing. And you know, your kids going is sad, but also it's a bit of a release as well. You don't have to look and feel young anymore and that can feel a pressure from- but you can still be very youthful and this feels to me like a really youthful part of my life. 

Annie [00:35:08] Lorraine Candy, thank you so much for your wisdom and for sharing it. It's been just so wonderful to listen to you today. 

Lorraine [00:35:14] Oh, thank you so much for having me on, Annie

Annie [00:35:19] Do please rate, review and subscribe to Changes. It is so appreciated and if you fancy sharing on social media too, that would be amazing. The more people we can get listening to these episodes the better, we want to tell our stories far and wide. Changes is produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions. Thanks for listening!