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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Female Midlife Crisis

Drinking too much? Feeling worthless? Obsessively shopping? You could be having a FEMALE midlife crisis

This is the headline in a recent article in The Daily Mail written by Lorna Martin. Lorna describes the affect that a midlife crisis has had on two of her friends:

 “A friend was recently made redundant from her high-flying job as a magazine editor. 
Now 39, this is the first time since she left school at 17 that she has not had a job. Unsurprisingly, it has hit her hard. Once confident and outgoing, she now struggles to get out of bed in the morning. 
She used to live to work. It gave her a nice lifestyle, a good social circle, a sense of belonging to something and the means with which to buy an ever-changing wardrobe of designer clothes. Now, she feels she has nothing to live for. 

Another friend, 44, who prioritised family over career, has, at least on the outside, a very enviable life. But with both of her children now away at university, she doesn't quite know what to do with herself. 
She is always asking: 'Is this it?' The last time I met her, she half-jokingly said she'd like to have an affair just to inject a bit of excitement into her life. 
Neither of my friends would appreciate being told this, but I think they're both having a bit of a midlife crisis. A midlife crisis is not just a male thing, and it is only a cliché until you have one.”

 So what does a female midlife crisis look like? Is it an addiction to Botox and plastic surgery in a futile attempt to turn back time and cling on to one's youth? 
Or is it, like Eva Longoria's character in Desperate Housewives, an affair with a teenager? Is it packing everything in and doing a Shirley Valentine? 
For many, it may not be quite as dramatic. Less acute symptoms may be boredom, a feeling of worthlessness, loneliness and lack of meaning, depression and anxiety. Or drinking too much, repeatedly changing jobs or partners, or obsessively shopping but never quite finding the satisfaction you are looking for. 
It could be triggered by divorce, diagnosis of a serious illness, redundancy, an empty nest, the loss of a parent. Or it can just occur, seemingly out of the blue. 

The important question is: Why?

In the midlife crisis, we realise that our basic childhood and adolescent dreams of immortality and specialness have all been a bit of a fantasy. 
And this, essentially, is what a midlife crisis forces us to confront - the harsh realities of adult life. 
No matter how much we compete with each other and no matter how hard we try, the truth is we're all just the same.

It's usually at midlife that we realise life's not quite so simple. We realise the pretty painful fact that bad things happen to good people and vice-versa. 

Although this sounds grim to some, it can be incredibly liberating. It can force us to stop drifting through life. It can make us stop and think carefully about the choices we make, their impact on others and what we want to do with the rest of our journey. 

Once they've begun to recover from the initial crisis, women tend to handle the whole thing as a challenge, even an opportunity. 

 It may not feel like it at the time, but a midlife crisis can be an unexpected gift.

The Mid Life Opportunity ( is a community for Mid Lifers. Advice and Guidance will soon be available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join so what are you waiting for?

Please take 1 minute to complete the 2010 Mid Life Survey: Click here


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