Men can get them. Women can get them. Apparently men's last longer - up to ten years - whilst women's go on for a maximum of three. Mens' are triggered by lost accomplishments, lost hair, lost youth, loss of health, loss of a spouse, loss of family or friends, or the loss of a job.
Womens' are caused by men.
Ah yes, as usual, I'm being flippant and silly. A midlife crisis can come to any of us for a whole host of reasons, and are most likely, apparently, to hit in our early 40s.
But what is a 'midlife crisis'? Until a few years ago, they were talked of in exclusively male terms. (In fact, take a look at the NHS website and Midlife Crisis (MC) only appears on the male pages. Still. Odd, don't you think?) The stereotype of an MC would be a bald guy - probably with an earring - with a blonde girlfriend driving a red sports car. Fast. And having a bloody good time.
MC's seemed to be linked mostly to re-evaluating one's career. A time of assessment, with the inevitable conclusion that something went wrong, somewhere, and time's ticking on - so you'd better make some swift changes NOW. It could make you feel a bit shit about life. Or - it could do the reverse, forcing you to take a step back and live life with a bit more va va voom.
There's been some talk about the rise of the female midlife crisis, but the root causes seem to be more complex. It could be as a result of work (too stressful, not stressful enough, not the right career, juggling work and children, guilt, frustration about a glass ceiling...) or children (putting your life on hold to look after them, wanting them and not being able to have them, feeling overwhelmed, guilt, guilt guilt....).
I had a mini midlife crisis. It all seems to have settled down now, but for a while, I was living in a sort of parallel universe.
I quite liked it.
Mine was definitely a re-evaluation of my life. My children had got to an age - nine and eleven - when it felt like I was beginning to stick my head above the parapet. Gone were the sleepless nights. Gone were the constant trips to the park with them, the worries about choking hazards, the tying up of shoelaces...they were more independent, and that meant more head space for me.
Which turned out to be dangerous.
I found I had the energy and enthusiasm to lose weight. And to join a choir. I went back to work, part time, and worked as an extra for a while. I met new people. I felt like I was breaking out of my mundane existence, doing something exciting and real. I suddenly had a burning ambition to learn how to fly. The adrenalin played havoc with my hormones and my sex drive went through the roof; the trouble is, I'd fallen out of love with my husband, who was still engulfed in the bubble I'd left behind.
So my midlife crisis spelt the end of my marriage. I evaluated my life so far and thought; arse. I've made a wrong turn, somewhere.
It hasn't turned out so bad. In fact, the fact that MCs are generally portrayed as negative events is generally wrong, I think. This article in the Telegraph lists the top 40 signs of a midlife crisis - most of which seem to be very jolly. Go to Glastonbury? Yes please. Splash out on an expensive bike? Why not? Keep fit, lose weight AND save the earth! Go to reunion tours of 70s and 80s bands? WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE?
My midlife crisis took me to places I never dreamed I'd go. So if it creeps up on you, my advice is - look it in the eye, take it by the hand - and jump off that precipice.
And don't look back.