Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Talking to student midwives at Nottingham.

Today I spoke to a group of student midwives at Queens Medical Centre at Nottingham. It is a huge hospital! I do like speaking to students as they are so keen to listen and to learn.

I also had a look around the Mother and Baby Unit.

It has been a productive day and ended with a lovely comment from a student ..

'I am a student midwife you gave a talk to on the 17/12/08 at QMC. I would like to thank you for a brilliant lecture. I can say you definitely inspired me to improve upon my practice. I am soon to have a placement on a mother and baby unit and hope to take your advice with me. I definitely think that your lecture should be taught to all midwifery students as I found it highly beneficial to my career.
Thank you again.'

A good day!


Great Closure at Kirkby in Ashfield!

On October 10th this year I spent a very pleasant day with mums who were currently suffering from postnatal illness and some health professionals. Earlier this year a lady called Merna Carruthers, a Community Engagement Co-ordinator based at the impressive Kirkby Community Primary Care Centre near Mansfield, contacted me after she had received an email about the work I do.

She secured the funding and we pressed on with our 'You are not alone' programme.

At the end of the day the ladies asked if I could return to see how they had got on.

For the penultimate talk of this year I was THRILLED to see the progress they had made. Unlike the first session when they had arrived with heads down and reluctance to speak or give eye contact .. today they almost bounced in!!! What a transformation! Very well done girls. It seems the biggest improvements they had made since I spoke to them was:-

1. Feeling that they were not alone - in fact, two have become best friends! They are all offering one another support which they can both give and receive.

2. Hope that they will get much better.

3. Much less concerned about what other people say about them.

4. Have a more positive outlook.

5. Being kinder to themselves.

6. Feeling so much better in general and enjoying life more.

We reviewed what changes had taken place since we last met and discussed any remaining challenges. The wonderful aspect I found was that they now all were happy to suggest ways of progress to one another.

We enjoyed some homemade biscuits (thank you Merna) and other goodies which they brought along.

They all left with individual goals but one they all now share is the desire to help others as they have been helped. Brilliant!

A huge thank you to Merna for having the determination to helps ladies in her area; to the budget provider ... and to the ladies who have 'shared' their illness and feelings with others and in doing so have helped themselves!

I am so proud of you and am totally humbled by you all.

Let's hope there will be many others we can reach out to.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

Tackling Stigma!

One of my passions is to help to tackle the stigma associated with mental illness. This especially strikes within the workplace - see my blog on the European Parliament from November.

The Health Secretary Alan Johnson made a landmark speech about tackling stigma and discrimination at last Thursday's New Savoy Partnership Conference about Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. Alan Johnson said: "We all have a responsibility - government, health professionals and the media to fight the prejudice that people with mental health problems experience."

The full speech is now available on the Department of Health's website. Download it from here:

There is also some progress and useful information about 'Health Work Wellbeing' at
Health, Work and Well-being is a Government-led initiative to improve the health and wellbeing of working age people. Founded on a growing evidence base that working is good for health, it brings together employers, unions and healthcare professionals in helping more people with health conditions to find and stay in employment.

There is a useful list of organisations at

If you are interested in fighting stigma also look at

They are holding a special event in London on 15th December.

Might see you there?


Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Credit Crunch - Come out smiling!

Tonight Clive Gott and I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at an event organised by Elmwood Design for their clients.

We followed Rick Bendel, Marketing Director for Asda. The evening was held for clients of the very successful Elmwood Design and the theme was 'Credit Crunch - Come out Smiling. What's the best way to get through the credit crunch? Tighten your belt and wait? No. The successful ones will be those that think their way to the future, not trim and cut themselves out of it'.

The venue was their trendy premises in London 'comfy Chesterfields and a Wi-Fi bar in Soho'. Around 50 professionals and Elmwood staff enjoyed drinks and a lovely buffet before Rick advised us on some survival tips - brace yourselves for a couple of tough years but be true to yourselves, keep things simple, cut down on wastage and be creative.
Read about Rick here

I followed with a brief outline of my story of survival and recovery - NO Powerpoint slides - just me! I explained how the first signs of stress can lead to depression and how in retrospect I wish I had realised as maybe I would not have been so poorly in the long run. I shared some of these signs and how they may be evident in the workplace under the current stressful times. I also suggested a few techniques to help improve mental wellbeing. My tip was also not to give up and I explained how I had got the booking for tonight - I had wanted to attend a 'Go Global' event in Harrogate a few months ago but was told it was full. I tried a few days before the event - full. So I turned up on the day! As I had guessed there were some 'no-shows' so in I went! At a seminar on marketing by Jonathan of Elmwood Design, I introduced myself and he said he wanted some speakers on mental health!

Clive finished the evening off in his usual humorous style! He also explained how depression had struck him down, but also that he had recovered. He related one of his greatest challenges climbing a mountain and elaborated on how we all can achieve our goals if we have Belief, Motivation and Support.

For me tonight was a challenge as it was my first 'solo' venture into the corporate world and it worked judging by the feedback! I used Clive's theory and it worked!

The team at Elmwood were delightful - a very happy team! Thank you to you and your clients for making us so welcome.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Dubai - another country to explore!

I joined a UK Trade and Investment mission from the Northwest to Dubai for almost a week.
The idea was to meet with people who may be interested in what I have to offer. Clive Gott came with me and our aim was to present our talks as individuals and as a partnership. In past years Clive has worked in Dubai and had loved it.
We joined a lovely group of business people and UKTI staff and from the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

Other colleagues from the Professional Speakers Association had also told us that it was 'the' place to speak, so we arrived full of enthusiasm.

Unfortunately it did not prove as successful as we had anticipated. I found it to be a concrete jungle! I did not like the traffic jams; going from air-con to air-con environment and everything was so expensive! The meetings I had expected did not happen and I felt that postnatal illness and mental health is not as recognised as in the UK and to make a huge difference in Dubai I would have to spend a great deal of time, PR and marketing to make it successful. For the time being it is not likely to be be high on my list but if I do go back to Australia next autumn then I may try again in Dubai enroute.

I did love having a dhow ride in the creek and watching the sunset reflected in a bank building. I loved the atmosphere of the gold souk (market) and the tiny streets of original Dubai. I was fascinated by all the many, many nationalities out there. A desert safari trip was fun!

On the final evening I was lucky to be one of the 10 mission delegates to be invited onboard the QE2 which had arrived the previous evening. It is now to be striped and turned into a hotel. We were guests at a 'Britain in the Region' event for champagne and canapes. Lord Digby Jones gave a short presentation and I introduced myself to him! I also chatted to the medical officer of the QE2; two lovely young sailors from HMS Lancaster - one lived in Thornton Cleveleys where I spent my childhood! I spoke to the consulate general of Casablanca - who has a home in Chester, a few miles away from me. Finally I had a brief chat with Omar, who is based at the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi - he told me that he had several contacts for my speaking .... so I may just go back!

Thanks to all who made the trip possible, especially Sandra Thornber from UKTI.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

I spoke at The European Parliament!

Today I set off for a potentially exciting trip – to speak at the European Parliament in Strasbourg! And it lived up to expectations!

This had come about through a series of events and meetings. Carol Henshaw, an academic psychiatrist, asked me to speak at the Marce society conference in 2006. This lead to the French delegates, Michel Maron and Abram Cohen to translating my book into French, published this year. Through Will Kintish I joined the Professional Speakers Association at which John Hotowka introduced me to Etta Cohen at Forward Ladies, who had a trip to Europe this spring. I also joined the UKTI Passport to Export scheme which gave me introductions into the British Embassies in the countries I visited. Whilst in Milan with Forward Ladies I met up with Nicole from the British Embassy. She thought that their MEP may be interested in my messages and we sent a copy of my French edition to her – Christina Muscardini.

Thank you to you all!

As a result I was invited by her to address the Union for Europe of the Nations at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. My travel arrangements were made brilliantly by Andrea from Wren Elite Travel, who I had met at Forward Ladies and consequently I flew from Manchester to Paris and onto Strasbourg.

I checked it at the Ibis Strasbourg hotel at a pretty town called Lingolsheim, just outside Strasbourg and after a short rest got a taxi to the impressive European Parliament. As I stood in the impressive inner courtyard I reflected on how I had got here in the grand scheme of things and wondered what difference I might make to the world as a result.

A lovely Italian gentleman, Roberto, from Christina’s office met me and I was issued with my ID card.
We went up the glass elevators within the inner atrium of the EP Louise Weiss Building and found the relevant committee meeting room – I wasn’t in the main hemi-sphere (this time!). The room was tiered with large, blue chairs and individual microphones and headphones at each chair. Several had names placed in front of the microphones. Around the back of the tiers was a gallery, behind glass, where 15 interpreters were getting ready for the session. Behind the platform at the front was another control area for the technicians. After we set up my presentation EP staff were putting agendas at each ‘desk’ and also gave them to the interpreters. It all looked very efficient and impressive.
Then Roberto took me on a mini-tour of the building. We peeked in the main hemi-sphere where it was questions and answer session. Turkey was being debated. Due to my tour of the EU in Brussels earlier this year I knew that Turkey wants to become a member of the EU but there are human rights issues to be sorted. Around the hemi-sphere were various media areas for TV interviews.

I briefly met Frank Barnett, the Secretary General of the UEN, who had sent my original invitation to speak at the meeting.

The meeting commenced and eventually I was invited in to do my presentation. As I settled myself down I realised that I would be speaking whilst sitting down – I hadn’t done that before, but got used to it after a few minutes. Likewise it was the first time I had spoken and had been instantly translated before! I felt I should speak a little more slowly than I usually do, but when I played back some of the video that Roberto did of me, I felt like I had my school teacher voice on! However, just before I started I could tell the other members seemed to speak normally – I guess it was the interpreters job, not mine, to worry about this. The aspect I found was strange was regarding ‘reactions of the audience’ – due to the delay in my words being translated, presumably at different speeds, individuals reacted with a smile or concern as appropriate at different times! It was rather unnerving!
15 minutes or so later I had delivered my talk telling them my personal story and why I feel postnatal illness needs initiatives in place by the EU for better recognition, treatment, resources and support across Europe. I also stressed the need for training of existing health and social professionals.
When I had finished Christina Muscardini thanked me for sharing my story and encouraging them to take some action. They have been looking at the whole area and have heard researchers, looked at statistics and learnt about the impact the illness can have. My role was to show how with treatment and support it is possible to recover and to inspire them to put the initiatives into place.
When the meeting ended she thanked me personally and with Roberto translating for us I gathered that she wants me to speak in other countries (27 member states!)and is getting Roberto to write a motion for a resolution for me to send out. To be continued!
However, one aspect I was not expecting could be extremely important. I mentioned in my talk about the problems I had faced as a result of my postnatal illness once I had recovered. This included our home insurance premium being higher due to my ‘mental health history’. Also not long after my book was published in 2005 I took a term off my teaching career as sabbatical leave to see if I could make a new career of speaking. For that term I applied to a supply teaching agency who would not consider me ‘due to my mental health history’. At the time I was horrified and even though I pointed out that I had been well for 8 years with no subsequent problems this made no difference. Also the fact that I could return to my full-time post was acceptable but part-time was not! Crazy!
At the end of the session a Polish MEP came to speak to me. He said he was very alarmed at this stigma and discrimination and would be taking the issue to other committees he is involved with such as Social Affairs and Employment. He said he had not realised that the UK was operating in this way and he would be taking steps to stop this practice. He said that unlike some mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, which are more likely to be a life-long condition, for ladies like myself who have made a full recovery there is now way that we should face such discrimination. Other EU countries do not do this and as all EU members were supposed to be united on such matters he will be taking immediate action. Wow! I do hope I have made a difference!!!

Watch this space for developments!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Live now on Ruby's Room!

I am now on Ruby's Room main internet site!

Have a look at

Short and 'sweet'?!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Tamworth Postnatal Support Group Study Day

Awesome! Moving! Brilliant!
In the years I have been speaking now I do not think any event has impressed me as much as this event did.

I got off to an excellent start by having a very sociable evening and stay at the Drayton Court Hotel
It was lovely as a lone traveller to feel so welcome by the proprietor Katie, her staff and fellow guests.

Then onto Drayton Manor. What a fabulous venue. The conference area and facilities were very swish.

There were around 300 delegates from as far away as Antigua! Many more had applied but had to be turned away. There were a variety of exhibitors, a massive raffle with 75 donated prizes! The Tamworth Postnatal Support Group had done a magnificent job of setting this event up; had got a variety of sponsors and the day was planned to such incredible detail by Jill Beckett, her colleagues and a team of mothers who had been involved with the group.

The staging and media were magnificent, done by and the day was filmed by

A former PND sufferer opened the day with breathtaking monologue called 'Who am I?' which vividly described how she had felt. Throughout the day we had many other dramatic presentations by former sufferers which were so powerful. Well done ladies.

Kathryn Gutteridge was the keynote speaker and she had founded the group in 1997. It has since helped over 1000 women. One statistic that she gave was that in the last three years 1,100 children have been left behind due to their mothers committing suicide due to postnatal illness. See the difference that just ONE person CAN make. I feel inspired myself.

Caroline Carr, a clinical nurse specialist from Stafford Mother and Baby Unit gave a very interesting talk on mental health disorders with case studies from her work.

I delivered my talk and again made people cry!

But for me the stars of the day were the 'dramatic' mothers. Their messages were fantastic and I am sure that there will be 300 professionals inspired today to go and make a difference.

The group is planning a DVD of the day and also a pack on how to set up a group like theirs. Jill Beckett is a midwife ... yet if she ever gets bored she would have no problem in getting a job as an event planner as it was the best I have been to.

Fantastic ladies. Very, very well done. It was an honour to be there.

Sadly as I drove home the news reported of the stabbing of two babies by their mother in Manchester. That is why postnatal depression HAS to be taken seriously and action taken NOW.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


This morning I attended a meeting of the NW Infant and Maternal Mental Health network. I represent the service users. There are some very passionate professionals in this area who undoubtedly do a great deal to get action in this area BUT lack of funding is getting in the way of progress.

I also feel we need more support groups in the UK which can be done on relatively small budgets as peer support is so useful. It seems we have to prove to commissioners that maternal mental health is a 'cost saving' exercise in the long run. I admit I got very frustrated and expressed my worry that as we were there planning more meetings that real people are suffering NOW and when will ACTION actually take place? The same message of needing a managed clinical network has been on the cards for years. PLEASE LET THE COMMISSIONERS HEAR OUR PLEA.

The dreadful irony was that as I was speaking a lady WAS going through hell in Manchester. Within hours the news broke that she had stabbed and killed her two babies.

That poor lady will have to face the fact she murdered her own children. Society will brandish her as evil. Yet in reality her mental state, I am assuming, gave her delusions and therefore unable to make rational thoughts. Once she 'recovers' she will have to face the awful consequences of her illness. How much more needless suffering and deaths due we have to hear of before someone takes notice??

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Mental Health Today

Today I attended an excellent exhibition called Mental Health Today, held at Manchester Central.

I listened to a very informative presentation about stress in the workplace and chatted to many exhibitors.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Warrington - King's Church presentation

Tonight I gave my talk to leaders and volunteers linked to King's Church, Warrington.

I stressed how my life had unraveled due to my puerperal psychosis but also how 'the church' had played its role in my journey. I was found on the steps of a church when I completely broke down and it was at the same church that I felt compelled to speak about my illness the first time. As they say .. the rest is history!

I gave the audience my tips on how to help sufferers and the impression I was given back was that they felt my story and ideas related to many other areas of suffering, not just postnatal problems. A couple of middle-aged men also commented to me that they could relate to my feelings from past times in their lives.

I hope I have sent the members away realising the importance and value of sometimes just 'being there' for people.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

PSA Convention - Day 2

Today the convention began in earnest with a useful session for those who wish to speak internationally. I was able to pass on my tip of being involved with UKTI as they have helped me to make the most of making contacts abroad.

We had a day of excellent speakers, fabulous food and plenty of networking.

The evening was fantastic with a dinner and amazing entertainment by Mike Rayburn - the world's funniest guitar virtuoso. Wow! AMAZING!

Posing with me is Richard McCann, another author and speaker - his mother was the first victim of the Yorkshire Ripper.

Friday, 7 November 2008

PSA Convention - day 1

The friendship and fun began immediately as many speakers descended upon the Marriott Forest of Arden hotel in the Midlands.
A great venue, with excellent service -

It was lovely to meet many familiar faces and some new ones from around the world.

At the convention last year I had the honour to meet W Mitchell (pictured) who gave me some excellent tips in become a better speaker. It was great to meet him again. Last time we met was at the United Nations dinner in New York.
Also pictured is Lesley Everett, the branding and image guru!

After a lively dinner we were entertained by 10cc. Wow!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

University of Surrey

This morning I had the pleasure of presenting my story and messages to students and professionals at the University of Surrey in Guildford.

What an impressive campus!

The presentation seemed to go well - judging by the amount of tears shed by the audience! One of the tutors commented that she felt my messages of good nursing techniques were far more effective and powerful coming from real experiences rather than text books.

My good friend John Hotowka gave us a speaking tip at Professional Speakers Association, to use a relevant prop as we speak. I tried this today (not telling what it was!) but I think it added an extra touch!

I would love to speak at more universities so let me know if have one to suggest!


Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Professional Speakers Association NW

Tonight I attended the NW chapter meeting of the Professional Speakers Association. We heard Chris Davidson's superb presentation which he had delivered at the German PSA earlier this year about his new website and resources for speakers.
Have a look at

We also listened to 'Wheelchair Steve', the accessibility champion, who amazed us with some of his feats.

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 2nd December.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Heather Stott Coffee Shop BBC Radio Manchester

Today I joined in with lively discussion on current news topics on the BBC Radio Manchester Heather Stott show. Fellow guests were Debbie Manley, Showbiz reporter of the year 2005.

and Thom Hetrherington from Moorfield Media.

Some of the topics we discussed were personal hygiene; OAPs who had been given a warning of an ASBO for being noisy on a bench and annoying habits of fellow passengers when you are travelling!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Dom and I do Legoland!

Ever since Dominic was 2 his passion has been Lego. By the age of 5 he could
put kits together meant for teenagers! His room is a shrine to Lego! My
parents took him and his cousin to Legoland for the first time when he was 3
and we have had an annual pilgrimmage ever since! Often with his cousin or a
I explained to Dom a few weeks ago that I am away a great deal in November
but at half term I would be at his beck and call.
So he asked if just the two of us could have an extra day at Legoland.
He didn't want to do rides but all the workshops. He said he'd be busy and
would worry about me 'just sitting' but I explained that would be a treat
for me! So after a slow journey on the M6 and M42 we had a night at Slough
Great location and good value book grab an early breakfast if you want to be at Legoland for the gates opening!
So next morning we were in a packed theme park on a crisp but sunny autumnal day.
First thing Dom chose to do was enter a 'build your own space ship'
competition. The prize was immaterial as he spent almost two hours creating
an intricate masterpiece. Meanwhile I settled down with a book - the
Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I then people-watched. It was amazing
how many parents interfered with their child's play telling them to add this
or that. Others were being nagged at for spending 'too long' being creative
when they should be getting in queues for a ride! Another child was in
trouble for moaning and told that if they didn't behave they couldn't stay
for the fireworks in 8 hours time! Going to be a long wait!! It reminded me of the excellent 'Watch, wait and wonder' scheme for parents in observing their child at play, which I had heard of in Australia.
Dom then spent another long session creating vehicles to race followed by a
big mooch in the shop finally settling on a pick-a-brick selection from
loads of tubs.
The day passed quickly with Dom building wherever he could and choosing not
to queue for rides.
As dusk fell we sat waiting for fireworks to begin amid the fraying tempers
of families and excited children waving light sabers around and fighting
with each other!
The fireworks were impressive and as I watched him, wide-eyed, it took me back to when he was 16 months old and we went to Disney in Florida. Where did the years go? He has grown up to be a wonderful young man of whom I am very, very proud! We then did join a few queues and did have a go on some rides before we left for the long drive back to Cheshire.
I thought it would be the last time we went ... but he is already planning our next visit!

So from both a parent and child view we recommend Legoland for a fun day out!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Forward Ladies lunch
I had a delicious lunch today with Forward Ladies at the Victoria and Albert
hotel in Manchester.
Prior to the lunch I enjoyed an hour or so with Mumtaz
Hussain who has her own law firm MacKenzie Hope.
It seems we share the same positive outlook on life and like to spend time with those who also do. We also have grown as a result of troubled times and want to share the strength we have realised as a result.
At the lunch the air of a positive outlook continued. Etta Cohen, the
founder of Forward Ladies, explained the history and purpose of the
organisation and immediately we put the social and business opportunities
into action. It was great to meet the wonderful Jan Harney again. Jan is a
vicar and does amazing work for women of ages. She also makes her own

Over the meal we chatted about a number of issues but Mumtaz and I stressed
the impact that writing goals, having a vision and a support system had made
a difference to us. Some of the younger ladies were interested in this so I
confess it gave me chance to mention Clive and mine workshop on 11th
Rebecca Durrant from Horwath Clark Whitehill, . commented that she had seen me on the 'big cheese' table at the Chamber of Commerce lunch with Hazel Blears! I explained that had been a flook!
At the end of the lunch I spoke to ladies about the Professional Speakers
I am to take over as President of the NW chapter later in the
year so want more members to benefit as I have done!
I left very invigorated and played and sang along to Lionel Richie in the
car! Mum and I have just booked for his tour next year! Hooray!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Runcorn World

I just had a chat to my friend Sue, who featured heavily in my book and remains one of my best friends.
She told me that I had been in one of the local papers recently, after my trip to Australia.
The article is here ...

Has anyone got a copy I can put in my cuttings book please?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Simply Devine!

Tonight I spent a very relaxed evening organised by my favourite networking group

A select group of ladies gathered at Simply Devine, a shop based in Tadcaster, for drinks, a buffet, getting to know each other and do a bit of shopping. Recipe for a top girl's night out I'd say! The company was excellent and the shop a real treasure trove of goodies for ladies of any age.
The main focus is on hats but there was a wonderful array of jewellery, bags, scarves, cards and gifts too.

Earlier this year I had been planning on going to York Races and had sorted to hire a hat from the stunning array at Simply Devine. However, due to the torrential rain the event was cancelled. The shop had called me to tell me even before I heard it on the news and insisted on returning my deposit. It wasn't their fault and they must have lost out but this level of customer service is rarely seen and I was extremely impressed so have no hesitation in recommending them.

Have a look at their website and even better, go and pop in for a treat for yourself!

Tadcaster is just between Leeds and York.

The Business Network West Yorkshire

Today my new venture took off! Clive Gott and I did our first (of many!) presentations together as a seminar before The Business Network West Yorkshire lunch.

The venue was The Golden Lion Hotel in Leeds.

This was our workshop outline:-

How to take life by the throat and say “I’m not done yet!”

This presentation will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions and you WILL be challenged. Clive and Elaine will introduce you to the three qualities that they believe we all have at our disposal to ensure a positive outcome to our journey… should we choose to tap into them.

Belief - Stop “ripping and stacking.”
We will explore the belief that we can (or can’t) achieve more and the more important belief that we deserve to achieve more.

Motivation - “Motion creates emotion.”
Are you a Quitter a Camper or a Climber? If we have a strong enough “why” the “how” will take care of itself. We will also look at the rules to goal setting.

Support - “Remember the Law of association.”
There is no such thing as a self-made anything. We All need help and support at some point. Where will yours come from and more important have you asked them if you can ask them?

By the end of the session participants will:
• Have an honest and personal understanding of the gap between where they are now and where they want to be
• Understand some of the beliefs that support them in or prevent them from crossing their gap
• Understand what will motivate them to cross the gap and how to create that motivation at will
• Be aware of the support they have, or will need, to cross their gap

What have one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, a leading footballer, a chief constable, a school teacher and an adventurer all got in common, along with an average 25% of people in the UK today (And this includes YOU?)
(Goldberg, D. & Huxley, P. 1992, Common mental disorders ¬ a bio-social model, Routledge.)

They have all suffered some form of mental illness. Some of them survived to fight on.

Whether we simply survive life or choose magnificence is just a matter of how well you cross the gaps that appear between where you are at any given time and where you want to be. Your gap might indeed be depression or other mental illness. It might also be a presentation, a sales call, a commitment to lose weight or pay off debts or survive the break up of a relationship that seems like it will hurt forever.

Unusually the workshop was held in a bedroom! Yes, but without the bed! It made for a cosy and intimate session for around 35 people who left with ideas on how to improve and maintain their mental health. General feedback was good - were you there? What did you think?

It was our taster for a full day workshop to be held in the New Year on Sunday 11th January at a Leeds venue, to be confirmed. The idea will be to review 2008, celebrate successes and deal with negativity, leading onto setting personal and professional plans to make 2009 the best year yet! So who do you know who needs a mental boost to kick start next year? Costs will be £75 for the day if employed, and £10 for those on benefits.

If you would like full details of this please sign up to our newsletters at either or

Thank you to Caroline Coward from the Business Network for enabling us to present this session.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Making a Difference for Mums

I have been building my speaking career around postnatal illness for 3 years now but I have to say that today was one of the most rewarding events I have done.

Earlier this year a lady called Merna Carruthers, a Community Engagement Co-ordinator based at the impressive Kirkby Community Primary Care Centre near Mansfield, contacted me after she had received an email about the work I do.

We decided to put on a whole day for both mothers who are currently suffering and interested health professionals. She secured funding for a creche and a lovely buffet too.

The day began with a number of very quiet and 'down' ladies who just by being there had made a step in the right direction of recovery. I shared my story and in doing so little by little I could see the current sufferers having 'me too' moments. Seeing the reality strike home that 'you are not alone' is brilliant! After a break we then looked at the signs and symptoms and the ladies began to open up more and we added to the list!

By lunchtime barriers had begun to come down and the ladies happily chatted to each other. They had not met prior to the day and I know that merely by facilitating time to meet others who were feeling the same was a powerful recovery tool.

Back in the workshop room we then talked about the things which were the worst about suffering from postnatal depression. Key areas that were discussed included other people's comments; loneliness; guilt and having no energy. We debating how to overcome these. We then moved onto the things which made them feel better, such as simple acts of kindness; being with people who made them laugh; collecting their baby after they have been apart.

With the positive scene set we then went on to consider a variety of ways to help with recovery - come on one of my workshops to find out what!!!

The day ended with each lady being given a hand massage by a therapist who had donated her time freely and they all left with a bag of pampering goodies donated by Boots - thanks to both.

But for me the buzz in the room at the end of the afternoon brought a lump to my throat. All the ladies exchanged their details with one another and the room was filled with fun and laughter.

However, the feeling of 'what next' emerged and they decided they wanted a reunion in a few months time to see how much progress has been made - their words, not mine. A couple want to bring along their husbands too. So in mid December we are getting together again - they even debated what food we were to have!

One of the health professionals from Sure Start also said that the day had helped her both personally and professionally.

Thank you Merna for being so supportive in setting up and arranging funding for the day.

With her permission, this is the feedback I received from one of the group

Hi Elaine
Just thought I'd drop you a line just to say thank you for what you did yesterday at the health centre . . . you're an inspiration to people who have got postnatal depression. You are living proof that no matter how bad it gets, with the right support and people around you you will come out the other side. . .last night was the first good night sleep I have had in a long time thanks to all that you said and did for us yesterday. . I'm looking forward to our follow up in December. . take care speak soon, love .... x

I felt today was a true honour and privilege to be enabled to impact upon ladies like that. I had a very happy and fulfilled drive to my next venue!

Thank you ladies for being so honest with me and sharing at whatever level you were comfortable. I know that the theme of the day 'You are not Alone' was definitely achieved!

It is messages like that which motivate me so powerfully! Give me more Mums to talk to please!!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

BBC Filming with Ruby Wax for Headroom

Today I went down to London for an exciting bit of filming. I had to get the train from Sheffield as I had to be back in that area that night and used East Midlands rail for the first time. My sincere thanks to Customer Host Derek who was a wonderful character and made my journey very pleasant!

Once in London I went to Ruby's beautiful home. She has a series with the BBC called Ruby's Room -

"Welcome to Ruby's Room, a cosy place to air feelings about those things we all tend to brush under the carpet.

I'll be looking at life's ups and downs that can leave us feeling blue - things like stress at work, coping with teenagers, the Black Dog (yes, depression), your daily obsession with CAKE... whatever!

I know how you feel and I also know how frightening and isolating problems like depression, stress or anxiety can be. I'll be here each week to listen and answer your questions. You can also find my films on YouTube."

We sat on a bench in the communal gardens at the back of her house and she asked me questions about my experience of postnatal depression. I think we filmed for about 20 minutes or so and before I knew it I was back on the train and heading back north.

Ruby and the production team were charming and I eagerly await the film being put on the site in a week or two. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Professional Speakers Association NW

Tonight I was at the NW Professional Speaker's Association meeting held at the Radisson hotel at Manchester Airport. We meet once a month to support fellow 'experts who speak for a living'.

Our showcase speaker was Anthony Day who tried out a new talk on being environmentally friendly in business for the future.

Then we had the excellent Geoff Ramm who gave us plenty of hints and tips for marketing our businesses.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Radio Merseyside Breakfast Show

This morning I reviewed the newspapers on the Tony Snell Breakfast show on BBC Radio Merseyside.

Following that I attended a briefing at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce about Dubai, where I am to visit in November as part of a trade mission with UK Trade and Investment with a view to exploring speaking opportunities out there.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Ironman's Meltdown!

(Photo by Janet Jones

In the last couple of years I have learnt a great deal and met many interesting people through my membership with the Professional Speakers Association. In recent months another of the members, Clive Gott, who is an inspirational humorist, heard me speak and decided that he also wants to challenge the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental illness.

His story appeared in the Yorkshire Post today under the title 'Ironman's meltdown'. Clive is the classic 'Action Man' figure who climbs mountains and runs across deserts, then uses his stories with humour and inspiration to encourage others to tackle their challenges and make and achieve their goals.

But he had a breakdown last year and realised that depression is not a choice as he once believed! Have a look at

We are now working together to speak to audiences across the business community, health professionals, educational establishments - in fact anyone who could be showing signs of stress! By sharing our stories and how we overcame our problems we aim to help others avoid a breakdown or at the most simple level offer ways to improve their mental health.

Our first public workshop will be on Sunday 7th December. Full details to be confirmed.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Going Global with Yorkshire Forward

I attended a large event organised by Yorkshire Forward and UKTI called Going Global, held at the impressive Harrogate showground, as part of my growing role as an an international speaker.

Along with Jackie Whiteley of and Sandra Corcoran of - both of whom I have met thanks to , we listened to a full morning of speakers.

The day was hosted by BBC correspondent Nils Blythe and the first speaker I heard was Dr. James Bellini who talked about the emerging markets of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and encouraged businesses to gear their exporting power north of the equator in the years ahead. He is described as a futurologist.

We were then treated to Lord Digby Jones - well at least a video of him - encouraging businesses to go global!

I was very impressed with Allyson Stewart-Allen,, who spoke about culture and international business, with a focus on the American market. She pointed out the need for knowing the rules of business in the destination and to be persistent. She also demonstrated some British words which do not have the same meaning in the USA, e.g. pulling into a 'lay-by' is not an expression that the Americans would take politely.

Then we listened to three speakers who were from Yorkshire who have made successful businesses with international trade. They shared some of their tips for success, e.g. being flexible, innovative, doing your research.

There were then a choice of masterclasses to attend. I went to one on marketing lead by Jonathan Sands from Elmwood Design We were treated to an array of stunning photographs from around the globe and the importance of your brand message across different cultures. I confess that I was pleased when he said that anyone helping to alleviate stress and anxiety in business were onto a winner! He gave plenty of hints and tips for trading internationally and suggested techniques to make potential customers to smile, which improved your chance of success. He also stressed the importance of knowing business protocol in different countries and suggested two books ' When cultures collide' and 'The world is flat'

The catering at Yorkshire event centre was excellent and also had an international theme.

After networking I then sat in another Masterclass about market research for trading abroad. This was a useful look at researching your market by desk, internet and field. Have a look at 'Surfing without Drowning' at for loads of useful tips on looking at researching your potential markets abroad.

Then it was the 'big catch' of the day with an interview by Nils Blythe with Sir Alan Sugar - at least he appeared in person. The focus was supposed to be on going global but we got a long history of how he had started in business and eventually a few tips, e.g. use the phone and electronic means of communication before you get on a plane to meet prospective overseas clients. He also advised not to moan and to deal with obstacles in your way. Sadly many of the questions from the floor seemed to be used as an opportunity to 'test and market' their business to Sir Alan and the delegates as opposed to generic 'Going Global' questions. He over ran by at least 20 minutes keen to answer questions but none were really of use!

I was able to meet up briefly with the UKTI rep from Latvia, who I had met there earlier in the year, and her colleagues from Lithuania and Estonia. My articles have appeared in Lithuanian magazines recently and I hope to return there to speak at some point.

Thank you Yorkshire Forward and UKTI for an interesting and useful day and I am busy following up the advice and introductions I got. My suggestions to any business looking to trade abroad would be to make use of these agencies or their equivalents around the country!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Lunch with Hazel Blears, MP.

Today I attended a Women's Business Lunch held by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, of which I am a member.

Initially I had a coffee and very interesting chat with Robyn from Robertson Fox.
She explained some of her individual coaching techniques which sound most impressive!

The venue was the new Ramada hotel at Salford - very plush! Great function room with a huge picture window over Salford Quays.

Due to taking a phone call I was late going into the function room and purely by chance ended up on the table with Angie Robinson, Chief Executive of the Chamber and the guest and speaker of the event Hazel Blears MP!

Also at the table was Sue Fogg from the hotel, Katherine and Arvid from Inspired Lives, Julie Finch from Axonbirch and Fiona Desmond from Martin Ward Anderson.

It was a very pleasant lunch with everyone sharing their businesses. I confess that I have been feeling rather tired since my jet setting but after listening to Hazel speak I was raring to go with such enthusiasm again!

Hazel described her start in life in the rather run-down Salford of years ago. At 14 she felt inspired to 'make a difference' in the world when seeing a 'tramp' in Manchester City centre. Now she has worked her way up to being in the Cabinet - her passion, humility and appreciation for her post shone through as did her utmost respect for her parents and their influence on her life. You are an inspiration Hazel - and write a book of your journey to the Cabinet! It would make fantastic reading!

When I was at college over 20 years ago my boyfriend Greg lived in Salford. Where we were today used to be industrial waste land. Now it is a buzzing place with the Media City being built along with real northern pride! Great progress and achievement.

My sadness about Salford though is that until recently there was a great system for mothers with postnatal depression as part of the Sure Start scheme. But funding has ended and so has the service, with the talented and dedicated staff dispersed. What a huge shame.

I called at my parents on the way home because they remain a great inspiration and tower of strength for me!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Perinatal and Infant Mental Health

Today I attended a conference organised by the North West Regional Infant and Maternity Mental Health Network, of which I have become part of. The theme was 'Consultation and planning event needs, gaps and strategic challenges in the NW'.

The aims were:

• To confirm the importance of perinatal and infant mental health and its position in terms of current health and social care strategy

• To build capacity in the field of infant and maternal mental health at a regional and local level

• To present the findings of a recent scope of gaps and needs

• To explore the contribution of managed care networks and specialised perinatal mental health teams for improving outcomes for affected families in the NW

• To provide an opportunity for action planning across systems and services

I feel the aims were met and it was great to see almost 70 delegates from across the NHS there, especially some commissioners. There are some extremely highly motivated and committed staff in the region in this area but clearly there are huge gaps in provision.

I confess that I wanted to tell everyone there about my trip to Sydney and to stress some of the issues I learnt there! I am delighted that the 'Watch, wait and wonder' scheme that I was so impressed with is now being trialed down the road from me!

I urge everyone involved to begin to move forward in this area so we can alleviate the needless suffering out there!

Let's get some long-term funding and plans sorted and get cracking!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

How are you at time management?

Tonight we had a guest to stay with us. Robyn Pearce from New Zealand kindly let Dominic and I share a room with her on our last night in New York, after the National Speakers Association convention in August. We first met at a Global Speakers Network event held at the United Nations, where we were seated next to one another.

Robyn was visiting the UK to do a series of talks and dropped in on us in Cheshire between her engagements in the Lake District and Cardiff.

She is an amazing lady, mother of six and starts each day with a run!

Have a look at her details at

I never cease to be amazed by the new friendships and opportunities which can be made by networking via groups. My new speaking 'family' of PSA has literally opened the world up for me!

Perhaps if the invitation to go back to Australia next October materialises then I may just have to go to New Zealand too!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Samaritans conference

I was honoured to be invited to speak at the annual conference for The Samaritans. What a wonderful group of people! The venue was the University of York.

I was given a Samaritan to escort me, which was a lovely touch, and was made to feel most welcome.

The passion and commitment shown by the 1200 volunteers was incredible and made me feel most humble.

Some of the comments to my session were:-

• “Honest first hand account – positive approach”
• “Well presented, interesting to get an insight into this subject which I know nothing about”
• “Excellent and useful. Learned a lot. Good speaker”
• “Personally found this emotional. Talked straight from the heart. Helped to understand PND and depressive illness in general”

So I am delighted if some callers are helped even further due to me sharing my experiences.

I encourage people to support The Samaritans in any way and if you are suffering call them and you know that someone is prepared to listen to you - one of the best healers in my opinion.

It was also good to meet up with a fellow member of the Professional Speakers Association, Richard McCann. I read his book 'Just a boy' on the flight back from Sydney. He was also speaking at the conference.

Need to read his sequel now!

Thank you 'Sams' for making me feel so welcome and appreciated!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

From Sydney to Doncaster!

Tonight I spoke in the prestigious Royal Suite at Doncaster Racecourse, to a group of health professionals.

The event had been organised well by SMA as a study event.

I was especially excited to speak as I was able to include the latest research into my story from what I had learnt in Sydney the previous week.

As I spoke a photographer from the RCN journal was busy taking shots of me as I have written an article on Patient Empowerment which is due out in November edition of Nursing Management, and they wanted some pictures.

I stayed at the Grand St Leger hotel across the road from the race course and highly recommend it! One of the most comfortable beds I have slept in!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Marce Society - Final day

My final day in Sydney dawned so I packed my bags and headed across the road for the final sessions.

First was Philip Boyce from University of Sydney who spoke on Clinical issues in the Management of Mothers with Schizophrenia.

Nine Glangeaud-Freudenthal spoke about Channi Kumar's Legacy for Perinatal Psychiatry and Mother-baby joint care. He was one of the founder members Of the International Marce Society in 1980.

After lunch I was fascinated in a presentation about 'Watch, Wait and Wonder'.

A video shown by Michael Zilibowitz was especially impressive. This is a deceptively simple but highly effective intervention that uses an infant or child led
approach to heal troubled relationships between a parent and child. It involves the parent getting down on the floor with her child in the clinicians room and asked to follow the child’s lead, not to teach, intervene or initiate the child’s activity in any way but be watchful and responsive to whatever the child wants to do. By learning to watch and realize that she does not have to intervene, the parent begins to observe and appreciate her child s individuality. As a result she comes to read the child s signals more objectively and becomes sensitive and responsive to the child s needs. The child is also allowed to express her inner life and develop a sense of self through play, exploration and interaction with the parent. This process often helps intrusive and directive parents to adopt the observer role and withdrawn or distant parents to take on the active observer’s stance and often truly see their child for the first time. Following the child led actively which last from about twenty to thirty minutes the parent is asked to discuss her observations and experiences with the clinician. Motivated parents are encouraged to continue this process in the home. The concept is a potentially powerful tool for general parental education.

The final session was a Hypothetical presentation given by a panel of the main speakers who considered what they would do with a problematic pregnant lady!

Then it was time to get a shuttle back to the airport and my flight home. Amazingly Atif Rahman who had spoken at the conference and I ended up sitting next to one another all the way to Dubai! So we had a wonderful opportunity to debrief and chat about perinatal mental health!

Just before I left the venue, Belinda, from Panda, said they were thinking of doing a national event in Australia next October and wondered if I would return! I would love to so if any other groups would like me in Australia next year let me know!

Friday, 12 September 2008

Marce Society Conference - Friday

Today began with a paddle and walk on the beach with my room mate Jane. One of those moments that I knew I did not miss teaching!

We got smartened up and then had a wonderful breakfast at The Manly Pacific hotel hosted by The Gidget Foundation, which was officially launched in November 2002 and since its inception has raised over $270,000 to support established organisations supporting woman and those around them affected by Perinatal Anxiety and Depression.

The main speaker was Deborah Thomas, editor of the Australian Woman's Weekly who gave a very moving account of her personal suffering. She also stressed her eagerness to help save lives by spreading awareness of postnatal illness so I gave her my details!

Then it was the main conference with a great keynote address by Atif Rahman from Liverpool University. He gave a wonderful presentation about his work in Pakistan and a study to deliver a psychological intervention to depressed mothers and their infants through non-specialist village based health workers. This report was due to be published the next day in The Lancet.

Next was Jane Ussher from the University of Western Sydney who gave us 'Rejecting Raging Hormones: The Socio-Cultural Construction and Experience of Reproductive Distress'.
See her books at,%20Jane%20M

I attended a session called 'A brush with death' which was about women's experience of significant postpartum haemorrhage, by Jane Thompson. This was especially of interest to me as I had suffered this when Dominic was born. In written comments women reported fear and trauma; heightened anxiety; sense of failure, loss and disappointment; disempowerment. Postpartum symptoms included excessive fatigue and fear of future pregnancy/birth. Women also questioned clinical decisions and care. Women reported some post-traumatic stress symptoms. Conclusions were that women experiencing PPH are at risk of hysterectomy, readmission to hospital in the 4 months postpartum and report symptoms of post-traumatic stress. They may need clinical review and follow-up. But basically more TLC and information!!

After lunch I listened to Timothy O'Leary from Frances Perry House, Melbourne, talking about his 'Father's Time Program'.
Fathers in these groups are encouraged to be positively anchored during times of stress - a frank, open discussion about these issues leaves pre-natal fathers feeling much more purposeful about their transition to parenthood than simply encouraging fathers to 'get involved'.

There was opportunity to view the many posters, including one from the support group of which I am patron.

The evening was spent amongst an international group of 6 Americans, 2 French, 1 Dutch and me from the UK. We had a wonderful meal at the end of Cabbage Tree Walk in Le Kiosk.

Kathy Wisner and Nine Glangeaud-Freudenthal who are the next two Marce Presidents were amongst the merry dinners! We discussed the next two conferences to be held in Pittsburgh in 2010 and Paris in 2012!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The International Marce Society 2008 Conference

The principal aim of the society is to promote, facilitate and communicate about research into all aspects of the mental health of women, their infants and partners around the time of childbirth. This involves a broad range of research activities ranging from basic science through to health services research.

The Society is multidisciplinary and encourages involvement from all disciplines including: psychiatrists, psychologists, paediatricians, obstetricians, midwives, early childhood nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, community psychiatric nurses, community nurses and health visitors.

Two years ago I was the opening speaker when it was held at Keele University and this time I had my presentation on 'Effective Delivery from the Receiving End' accepted.

I had to fund the trip myself using some of my UKTI Passport To Export grant and also had a donation from King's Church in Frodsham.

The conference was held at the Manly Pacific hotel which would have been great except for the building works which meant we had to put up with banging and drilling!

There were delegates from all over the world and some remembered me from the Keele conference.

The first morning we had three keynote addresses.
1. Gender Differences in Depression and Anxiety: Is Anatomy Destiny? by Gordon Parker.
Conclusion - differences are biologically underpinned but shaped and modified by socio-cultural factors.
2. Pre-existing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Childbearing Outcomes of 'Survivor Moms': Confirming the need for Integrated Maternity Care Services by Julia Seng.
3. Maternal Diet, Lifestyle and Stress and the contributions to Epigenetic Disruption in the Newborn: A Prospective Perinatal Twin Cohort Study, By Jeffrey Craig.

Yes - all before lunch!

After lunch there were four parallel sessions.

I attended the treatment strand.

1. Three in One: Effective Delivery of a Group Intervention of High Risk Mothers and Babies by Alison Cornish and Karen Asgill

2. My turn! Effective Delivery from the receiving end. I told my story briefly and went on to say the key elements that make a real difference to mums and their families using examples given to me by other mums.

3. Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression during Pregnancy by Scott Stuart.

I was delighted with the response to my presentation and after it every break I was given positive comments. I reduced some to tears but the main remark was that in the midst of all the scientific data it was motivating to be reminded of the personal elements and reminded of why we are all passionate about this field of expertise.

The day completed with more parallel sessions.

1. Ethical Problems in Psychotherapy by Abram Coen
2. Motherhood: Is it good for Women's Mental health? by Sara Holton et al.

The evening was spent at the Taronga centre at the zoo.
We began by drinking champagne overlooking the Sydney skyline. I had one of my 'how on earth did I end up here' moments?!
Once inside we enjoyed a tasty meal and listened to Australian TV personality Jessica Rowe movingly describing her journey of postnatal illness.

All in all a fantastic day!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Perinatal Depression

I stayed at Manly Paradise Motel and my roomie was Jane Honikman.
We could see the sea from our room.

The first day at The Marce conference was an optional workshop on 'Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Perinatal Depression' presented by Scott Stuart (University of Iowa), Michael W. O'Hara and Rebecca Reay.

This was a therapy I knew nothing about and after the workshop felt that it was an approach which may have helped me in retrospect. The main focus is in modifying interpersonal relationships or expectations about them. It focuses on real-life outside the therapy so has a practical approach to relieve symptoms, improve interpersonal functioning and increased social support. It is based on the idea that relationships, life changes and stress can lead to depression so with appropriate intervention things can get better.
IPT is ideal for those who are struggling with changes and where there is no need to 'dig deep' for past unsolved issues, but to have a practical approach to problem solving. It focuses on resolving an acute interpersonal crisis and increasing social support. This is achieved by helping them to recognise the help they need and to communicate that need effectively.

In pregnancy there may be issues of change, e.g. concerns of the well being of the fetus. When the baby arrives there may be relationships issues, e.g. violated expectations. The relationship with the partner often changes, e.g. loss of attractiveness and there can be more problems when faced with the transition back to work. So IPT can be useful to address some of these changes.

IPT is also widely used for other applications such as eating and anxiety disorders.

We were also shown the structure of the sessions and the therapeutic techniques. The critical question is 'How well do you feel other people understand you?'

If you would like more information I have found these sites:

Can anyone tell me where it is being used to help ladies with perinatal depression in the UK?

Has anyone been treated effectively by it and would like to share their experiences?

I enjoyed the day and found it most informative.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

"Perinatal Depression: Strengthening recovery and building social capital"

Today I was honoured to speak to a delightful audience on behalf on Panda.

PANDA has compiled the 'Guide to PND Support Groups Manual' covering many aspects of how to go about setting up different types of support groups for women with antenatal and postnatal depression. Look at it here:-

I addressed around 70 ladies who were health professionals, volunteers or mothers who had also been affected by postnatal depression. I delivered my talk on my story, signs and symptoms to look out for and ways to help sufferers.

Issues which came up and I would appreciate any advice on were support for lesbian mothers who suffer PND and also ways in which sufferers have weaned themselves off medication.

In the afternoon Jane Honikman gave a great talk on the importance of social network support. Jane, M.S., is a Parent Support Consultant/ Postpartum Specialist from Santa Barbara, California. In 1977, she co founded Postpartum Education for Parents (PEP) and became the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Birth Resource Centre in 1984. She founded the Postpartum Support International (PSI) in 1987 as a result of hosting the first conference on Women’s Mental Health Following Childbirth held in Santa Barbara. She was PSI’s first President and operated the organization until 2004. Jane has authored many articles and educational materials on postpartum issues and support, including her books Step by Step (2000) and I’m Listening (2002). She continues to lecture internationally on the role of social support and the emotional health of families. Visit her website at

One lovely idea she shared with us was that PSI have a Memory quilt with the names of those ladies who have taken their lives due to postnatal illness. It serves as a memorial and a reminder of why this is such an important area and why they should not be forgotten.

Jane spoke passionately about the need for social support and recommends these websites for more information.
Extensive information including worldwide social support network and resources
Father's website
Collaborator with PSI providing on-line support

PSI Social Support Network of trained volunteers around the world offer support and local resources. Find them at

Toll-free Helpline 800-944-4PPD offers support to women and families, in English & Spanish.

Free Weekly Telephone Support Service via teleconference with information provided by PSI member hosts

PSI also have a new publication called A Guide to Developing A Sustainable Perinatal Social Support Network in Your Community.

Before the event began I had a coffee with Joe Dodd who is the manager of Trade and Investment from the British Consulate- General. As a UKTI Passport to Export member I can arrange to meet these UK reps around the world. I recommend the scheme.

I also spoke to a charming lady called Frances Eyre who has a company called Nuture Inside - caring for Mind and Body.
See her website at

I was also given a book by Lyn Shand called 'Balance those Hormones'

Lyn told me that she is a strong believer in the importance of hormones and the role they play in PND. I am looking forward to reading it.

And with that it was back to the airport, thank you Belinda, and my flight back to Sydney.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Royal Women's Hospital, Randwick

After a long sleep I packed my case and left Shelley's. We went to her clinic at Doubletree Bay and she gave me an allergy test.

Seems I am short on folic acid and need to eat eggs, but also I have a problem with baker's yeast. So maybe I am okay with wheat but not the yeast? And I have been living wheat free for almost 5 years now! Won't try anything until I am home though.

Then we went to the Royal Women's Hospital at Randwick where I gave a talk to a room of various health professionals for an hour.

My first International presentation outside the UK! It seemed to be well received.

From there it was onto the airport where I flew to Melbourne and was met by Belinda from Panda.
PANDA is a Victorian, not-for-profit, self-help organization that was formed in 1985 to provide confidential information, support and referral to anyone affected by post and antenatal mood disorders, including partners and extended family members. PANDA also produces and distributes accurate information about post and antenatal mood disorders to health professionals and the wider community.

Their website is a goldmine of information - I highly recommend that you look at it.

Another bed - this time at Bayview on the Park hotel in Melbourne, where I had a lovely big room.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Seeing the sights of Sydney

Jetlag meant I was awake bright and early but also seeing the blue skies made me bound out of bed. Kylie was on the radio so I had to have a dance with the excitement. I was really in Australia! My friends and I headed back down to Darling Harbour for breakfast.

Then we had a walk around the harbour and boarded the ferry across to the Opera House. The street performers were great. Next we had a wander around all the street stalls at The Rocks before we got on a triple decker train back to the hotel. At least I felt I had seen some of Sydney's sights.

Shelley and Rory collected me and we went to Watson's bay for Doyle's fish and chips as we watched the sunset. A wonderful day!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Raining - in Sydney?

I only woke up just before 2 pm to the sound of rain! In Sydney? It had poured non-stop for hours and there was no sign of it stopping. I had supposed to have been sight seeing with my friends who moved to Sydney from Chester last year. We decided to meet for dinner instead. Meanwhile I had an afternoon in a cozy dressing gown and watched 27 dresses. Bliss.
Later on Shelley drove me into the city - slowly as there was an accident. We realised we had more in common and she told me of her book 'Callum's Cure' which is about how she helped her son with his cerebral palsy (he prefers to be called Rory now).
Finally my friends and I met up and wandered down to Darling Harbour and caught up on our respective lives over a tasty meal. It was good to hear that they have settled in well. Then it was back to the Travelodge for the night.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Off to Australia!

I flew down to Australia on Emirates via Dubai where I had a few hours stop over - such a busy, busy airport. I landed in Sydney early in the morning and got a taxi to my speaker friend's beautiful apartment. We had met last month in New York at the NSA convention. Her name is Shelley Skyes and she is the happiness guru!! That's us two with our books.

After some breakfast I left Shelley and her charming son Rory doing their tasks whilst I had a sleep. Later we went shopping to a local mall and I was surprised it was dark by 5.30 pm. After eating one of Shelley's amazing 'sexy salads' full of nutrients for lunch and a similar version as a curry we were ready to hit Sydney. We went to a lively bar called 'The Establishment' which is apparently known locally as 'the dry cleaners' as it is where women go to pick up a suit! We danced ourselves silly before we had a drive around a wet Sydney at night and then ate chocolates and chatted for hours back at her apartment! I love Australia so far!

Friday, 29 August 2008

I'm going to Australia!

I am so excited!

I am now preparing to fly out to Australia next week. I am having the first weekend with friends in Sydney and will be seeing the sights.

Then on Monday 8th I speak to midwives at a Sydney hospital.
From there I go to Melbourne overnight to speak at an event organised by PaNDa.

Book at

Then back to Sydney for the Marce Society convention. I hope to learn a great deal which I can pass on!

Details are here

Will keep you posted!


Saturday, 16 August 2008


As many of you may know I have been patron of the on-line forum

for a while now. They have put together a petition at

Please sign it and pass on!

Today I was on the Heather Stott BBC Manchester programme to talk about it.


Friday, 8 August 2008

New York NSA Convention

Well I had a fantastic time in the Big Apple!

I attended the National Speakers Association convention along with some other colleagues from the UK professional Speakers Association.

More to follow on this trip!

Friday, 1 August 2008

New Website!

Well my new website has launched!

It is still work in progress but as time goes by we aim to add, for example, some clips of me speaking; local information on where to get help; information for students.

What do you think of it?

Please let me know!


Thursday, 24 July 2008

My Yorkshire PR!

Thanks to my visits to Europe earlier this year with I now am being heard in Europe. As this ladies group is based in Yorkshire we decided to let the media know!

So thanks to Diana White at Forward Ladies I got a full page in the Yorkshire Post on Wednesday. See the article here.

Then on Friday I went into the very modern and swish BBC Leeds to be on their morning show. I was interviewed by a very complimentary Johnathan I'Anson who had obviously done his homework about me. I managed to get Forward Ladies a mention too!

I had an excellent lunch in Loch Fyne restaurant in Leeds too!

This may be the last entry for a week or so as I am now preparing to go to New York to attend the National Association of Speakers convention! I am so excited!


Knutsford Thursday Cub

Well this one was different but none the less great!

Months ago this club for retired ladies and gentlemen had invited me to go along with my cosmetic and jewellery sales and chat to them over their tea and biscuits. I would not let them down as once something is booked I am reliable. However, I did say my mission had changed.

I gave them a brief outline of my story and how I had decided to clear my stocks to enable me to get to Sydney.

The response was lovely as they got presents for themselves and others. Most importantly it got many of them talking about mental health issues which several in the room had been affected by or their loved ones.

One elderly gentleman congratulated me on my story and commented that he 'had been amazed he had got through his 80 years without knowing about postnatal illness, but he wished he had known sooner'.

I left with lighter boxes and a quarter of my ticket now sorted, plus an invitation to speak to a local church.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Well Heeled Divas Birthday party!

... next on my busy schedule today was the Well Heeled Divas first birthday party.

As you may be aware this is an organisation dedicated to empowering and inspiring women to step up to the next level in their life – whatever that may be. They helped me do that last year and I am now reaping the benefits of that!

It was lovely to hear how others had also been encouraged to develop and grow in many ways and listening to Jane speak I was inspired even more. I also took along some of my Virgin Vie stocks which have been collecting dust since I hung up my sales career. I reduced it all to help fund my flight to Sydney!

My Marce trip is now getting even better as I have been asked to speak in Melbourne too!

My aim at the Well-heeled Divas workshop was to become a world-class speaker so it seemed apt to come home and book my flight to Australia! Way to go!!

They definitely have motivated me to step up to the next level! Thank you Divas! If you want to do this and need help then tell them I sent you!


Northwest Perinatal Mental Health Network

Today I attended a training event put on by the Northwest Perinatal Mental Health network, held at Wythenshawe hospital.

On a personal note it was lovely to meet some familiar faces, especially Thelma Osborn who wrote the final chapter in my book. She tells me that Halton are putting their finishing touches to guidelines on perinatal mental health.

The first presentation was on 'Physical Interventions for Depressed Parents and their infants' by representatives of three teams of the Manchester Children and Parents Service (CAPS). Some of the services they offer are Parent Survival Course; Baby Survival Course; Preschool Psychologist Clinic; Baby Blues Buster; Cues and Clues and CPN Service. They explained in more detail their Baby Blues Busters and their Cues and Clues services which has some interesting aspects. Let me know if you would like more information!

Next we heard from Caroline Nuttall and Nic Seccombe who were from the Self Help Services, a user-led, mental health charity that is housed within Big Life Group - a collection of social businesses and charities. It is based at the Zion community centre in Manchester. They spoke about computer-based CBT which has been given approval by NICE, for example 'Beat the Blues' and 'Fear fighter'.

'Beat the Blues' is an on-line 8 week hourly session support for those suffering from mild depression. Although the speakers could not state how many people they had helped use it suffered from postnatal depression it was thought to be a useful tool for some.

Other on-line support schemes they mentioned were by Dr. Chris Williams and .

If you would like more information on this please go to

Finally we heard from Dr. Angelika Wieck who is the Consultant perinatal Psychiatrist based at the Mother and baby Unit at Wythenshawe hospital. She spoke about anti-depressant use in the perinatal period. One amazing fact she shared was the potential harmful effects of one drug - coffee! So expectant mums keep it to a minimum! She went on to show that different drugs can affect different developing areas of the fetus at different times of the pregnancy. If you would like more information on this area please contact me.

I will be arranging to visit the mums in the unit in the autumn for a pamper session or two.

From there I went over to the railway station at Sowerby Bridge for a photo-shoot with Janet Jones for pictures for my new website and business cards - coming soon! I was really impressed with them!

Later on ... see next posting ...


Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Radio Merseyside and Edge Hill

It was a beautiful sunny morning as I made my way to Radio Merseyside. Each time I go the cranes and building work for 'Liverpool - Capital of Culture' seem to be making progress. Once again I was going to review the newspapers on the Breakfast show.

I chose a story in the papers today about a health map of Britain which listed Merseyside as having the highest rates of depression in the UK. I hope someone heard me say that you can get better and that it helped them. I went on to mention a feature in the Daily Post about getting out on bicycles - exercise can help depression a great deal but you do need encouragement to do it!

From there I made my way onto Edge Hill University at Ormskirk where I gave my 'What matters to patients' presentation to all the pre-registration nursing students. I always have a trip down memory lane when I speak here as that was were I did my degree for four years - happy times! Greg Davies - where are you now?!

I got a very warm reception from the students and I invariably get a few talking to me afterwards. One lady had also suffered from postnatal depression years ago but still worried that it may come back. I do hope she felt better after we talked about what she would do if she recognised the signs and acknowledged she would get help much sooner.

One young man made me feel particularly pleased about my role. He told me that he suffers from depression and some days he really struggles to get out of bed. It was hard for his housemates to understand but he told me he was so pleased for raising all the issues and he hoped it would help his friends to help and understand him more.
With his permission he sent me these messages ..

Ever since I heard you speak I've been thinking about what you said, how you got through!!! Once again I just want to say thank you for giving that insight into mental health issues and depression, it's made people ask me questions that they would shy away from asking me before.

But most of all on that day I had been the lowest that I had been for a while and you showed me that there is a way out, and I can do whatever I want to, especially become the nurse that I dream to be!!!


Thank you Chris for making me feel so privileged and humble to make that difference. I am sure you will be a fantastic nurse!

Thank you to those other students who also shared a little of themselves with me too.

After the lecture I was taken around the new health education building - very impressive! It was a field in my day!!