Winston had his black dog.  I have my red queen.  Melodramatic I know.  But Kim, you hit the nail on the head yesterday when you commented on hormones.  Part of me truly hates to say this … I feel as if I am playing into every patronising, patriarchal notion of the hysteria of women … but, before the tangible arrival of the red queen each month, she sneaks up on me with poisoned sceptre and my spirits plunge from really cheerful and energetic to horribly glum and slothful.  And, as I age, I’ve noticed the pitch becoming ever more obvious.

When I feel the sadness descend, at first, it feels as if life is grinding to a halt.  Everything around me seems difficult, I become so focussed on what’s inside my head rather than the everyday loveliness and normality of what’s around me.  Then I remember to remind myself, no.  This is just my period about to arrive.  This feeling will last a day or two (hopefully not three), and then I will bounce back and everything will be perfectly doable again.  And it is.

I’ve even come to the realisation that I have to share with Julian and Abby.  They are so sweet – they smile sympathetically, nod knowingly.  It’s a secure feeling, knowing that they know.  And I don’t just fall down into a heap.  Instead, I plough on with everyday things.  Waiting for it to pass.  So that’s what I’ve been doing the last few days.  I’ve MADE myself cook dinner.  MADE myself make the bed.  MADE myself vacuum.  These things don’t banish the red queen, but they give me a small feeling of competence and control.

Yesterday morning, I started at Ceres – and it was sooooo good.  I spent a lovely morning in the autumn sun, harvesting the last of the little tomatoes, making up plumply fragrant bunches of basil for the market, pulling out the spent cucumber plants and chopping up the remaining, battered cucumbers for the chickens.  It was very therapeutic with so much to learn, the people lovely, and I’m looking forward to next week.

dutch cream potsbasil

When I could feel myself becoming VERY frazzled, yesterday afternoon, I slipped out into our back garden with some handquilting.  Letting the needle slide in and out, and in and out.  Feeling the lovely cool breeze of the much longed for change wash over me.

yarn and scissors

made some linesedges


Listening to the increasingly crunchy leaves rustle.  Noticing our little feathered girls regaining some of their confidence and feathers, as they chatter and bustle about, delighted with their succulent, seedy cucumbers.

bits of brown

cucumberswahts this

nogs funny feathers

Last night, I finished one book – Sally Vicker’s new novel “The Cleaner of Chartres” which I loved – Agnes is such an endearing character and the setting is beautiful.  And had a long, warm, sweetly scented bath with a new book – Beth Gutcheon’s “More Than You Know” – utterly different time and place and story, but certainly intriguing thus far.

Do you find your hormones wreaking havoc on your emotional state?  What does it feel like for you? What helps you move through these times?  Do you hate admitting it!?


battling the red queen

8 thoughts on “battling the red queen

  • March 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Lily! I struggle every month in the lead up to my period too, although in my case every emotion in magnified. If I am having self doubts, it turns into a crisis of self esteem. If I watch a sad show, I need tissues. If I find something funny, then it is hysterical. I started a new job recently and I am having the normal doubts about whether I can meet the challenge, so of course right now I know I am going to be a COMPLETE failure. All I can do is challenge my thoughts and try to stay busy – less time to think!

  • March 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    It’s a horrible time, just keep reminding yourself that it will pass, eventually!

  • March 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I’m afraid I’m on the cusp of loosing the Red Queen forever, as I’m a woman of a certain age and entering the wonders of the menopause…….which brings it’s own hormonal havoc. But I shall keep smiling sweetly and accept the changes to come, and fervently hope that knitting stitching and crafting will help me through.

  • March 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I hate my period so much I got an IUD with hormones in it again a year ago. Even though I’m single and intend to remain so. 300€ well spent I think.

    That said: have you had your thyroid checked recently? Having out of balance thyroid hormones can cause all sorts of nastiness in regards to emotional wellbeing..
    I just got blood drawn the other day to check for all kinds of lovely things (celiacs disease anyone? I am so not giving up good bread. Not happening. So this test better come out negative, just sayin’)

    And Lily, could you email me please, I have a tiny proposal for a tiny tiny pretty non committal swap/present.

  • March 16, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Lily your post made me feel so much less alone!!! I truly thought I was going mad as it gets worst the older I get! My forties have been miserable and I am sad to say my family are not supportive. Will however, remember your post and when those grey feelings arrive I will strive to push past it and enjoy my days and remind myself I am not alone!!! Thank you so much for this post.

    Kind regards,

  • March 17, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Ah, Lily. So glad that I am not the only one to have that mangy red dog following me around, month after month, year after year. I also found some solace in finally being able to trace the source of my “insanity” to the week before the blessed event. I also start dreaming very vivid and frightening dreams. Delightful.
    How you manage to keep on the bright side and post such delightful pictures and keep making and creating is beyond me. Today I have settled-in with a Coke, the BBC’s “Pride and Prejudice,” and a Fat Quarter Shop gift certificate(is it embarrassing to say that it took me 5 hours to figure out what to spend it on? I kept adding and then subtracting and then adding again…).
    Take care of yourself and your lovely family,

  • March 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Oh you are so not alone…1/2 the population at some point will feel just as you do. I get good months and bad ones and I think stress can really make it bad sometimes. I’m quite grateful to have a husband which amazingly copes with the blubbering mess that I can become. My daughter who is 10 is starting to get the low days and comes to me and says I just want to cry..not about anything, just need to cry. I comfort her and tell her it is normal and hope it doesn’t last long….so yes it affects us all! ((hugs))

  • March 19, 2013 at 2:54 am


    Every now and then I find myself panicking and fretting, sure that everything is going terribly wrong, that I’m to blame and then I think, hang on, when’s my period due? Yep: in 2-3 days time. Oh, it’s that time again…so then, maybe it’s just the hormones? Maybe my world isn’t really falling apart? I still feel the anxiety, despair, but somehow it helps to know that I just have to wait it out, and not to do anything too irretrievable in the meantime. Then, it all magically disappears…and I forget all about it until one day I wake up to find that my world is falling apart again…

    Now that I’m 52 and a half, I know that there won’t be too many more months ahead. I just hope the hormones don’t set at that particular setting…

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