Julie Graham has revealed that the menopause made her feel like she was going crazy. Speaking on White Wine Question Time, the Scottish actress revealed that when she went through the menopause five years ago, she thought she had lost it.
“I remember, first of all, thinking I was losing my mind,” she told podcast host and close friend Kate Thornton.
“I was weepy, I was grumpy, I was depressed. I've never suffered from depression – I've been very, very lucky in that respect. I had inner rage, like you wouldn't believe.”
Graham, who was most recently on screen in Jimmy McGovern’s drama Moving On, joked that the people of Brighton, where she lives, where lucky to come out of her menopausal rage unscathed. She said the low point, however, was when her daughter found her crying over a lost passport.
“She touched me on my shoulder and she just said, 'Mum, what's wrong?',” she said. “Because she didn't recognise me as the mother I was – and I certainly didn't recognise myself.”
Graham went on to say that she’d only just started dating Davy Crocket, her now husband, and was worried about how he would deal with her personality change. Thankfully, she worked out it was the menopause and starting HRT made her feel more like her old self.
She believes one of the issues around people not understanding menopausal symptoms is the way the media portrays it.
“I sort of started realising that I didn't see myself at all on television,” she explained to Thornton.
“I didn't see that woman represented. The only time I ever saw a menopausal woman represented, she was the butt of a joke, usually through the male gaze.
“She was a figure of ridicule. And I just thought, ‘No I'm not having this because this is just not right’, and I was astonished that we weren't represented in that way on screen.”
Graham, who has been determined to change this representation, has been developing a series with producer Andrew Green that follows the life of women, who also happen to be going through the menopause. When lockdown hit though, Andrew had an idea to make 10-minute taster episodes on YouTube.
“I wanted to create something that wasn't just about menopause,” she said of the online show.
“I wanted to create a show about friendship and about how women are with each other, and also have menopause as a kind of backdrop and just bring it into the conversation and do it.”
While Graham was keen to inject humour into the online series, she makes sure that the laughs come from recognition and not at the mercy of any of the characters.
“I want people to laugh with me, not at me. That was the whole point. If I'm going to be the butt of a joke, then it's going to be my jewel!”
The first episode has already racked up 100,000 views and Graham joked that it’s meant she hasn’t been able to chill out in lockdown.
“I was quite enjoying my relaxing lockdown,” she exclaimed. “I'm busier than I've ever been because obviously I'm writing it as well at the same time. I’m going through props and production meetings and all that stuff, all done by Zoom.”
Co-star Denise Welch, who was appearing on the podcast, said that the reaction they’ve had to the show has been overwhelming.
“We've had an astonishing amount of support from the main television networks,” she told Thornton.
“The benefit of lockdown is that people are so pleased to hear something innovative and groundbreaking happening. People have just related to it from word go.”
Catch Julie Graham chatting with Dun Breedin’ co-stars Tamzin Outhwaite and Denise Welch about menopause, filming from home and more on this week’s episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.