Menopause Journal: Marian Becomes "Miss Menopause"

I just received this letter from a reader:

Dear Miss Menopause,

I enjoy your column. I wonder if any of the experts who write about depression in us menopausal women have considered what it's like to find oneself in bed with an old geezer/grouch/curmudgeon. When the handsome, winsome young lads we fell for become old grouches and refuse to do anything about it, do WE take Prozac because they won't? Or do we throw away many years of relationship and have to start all over again, without the comfort we've built together? This is a serious question, which would probably bring in more letters than you would care to handle if you print it ( I give you permission ). But then, you're not Ann Landers, you're just a regular person, like me, bumbling through life and doing the best you can and sharing your life with us online, so maybe I've written to the wrong place.

I'll just sign this,

Jane Doe

Who would have thought my claim to fame would be as Miss Menopause? But I'll give it a try.

Dear Ms. Doe,

No, I'm not Ann Landers. But a couple of things occur to me. Perhaps the grouch in your bed is going through male menopause. Apparently, it happens. It's called andropause and is also a case of declining hormones. You imply that his curmudgeonly outlook is the result of depression, and mild depression is one of the symptoms. If that's the case, and he refuses to seek professional consultation or medical advice, my first course of action would be to ply him with chocolate. My friend Terry makes traditional brownies with dark chocolate chips. That should give him a lift. In fact, I'd feed him brownies even if he does get help. And eat a few yourself for a boost.

Nevertheless, depression is supposedly common in menopause. But are your feelings of disillusionment and depression due to menopause or because of life circumstances? Living with a grump can be taxing. It seems to me that what you describe is a kind of midlife crisis; looking at what you'd hoped your life would be and feeling a little let down. Lackluster love, divorce, children in trouble, the children we didn't have and career disappointments are all underscored as we age.