Wednesday, 27 May 2009

I've just become a member of the excellent Postpartum Support International!

Postpartum Support International

In recent months if you have heard me speaking at an event I will most likely have mentioned PSI and their mission for mothers affected by a perinatal mood disorder of 'you are not alone, you are not to blame and with help, you will get better'.

Well today my membership pack arrived so I felt I should share it. I first heard of PSI when I had written my book but wondered if it would 'translate' to USA. I asked the then President of PSI Diana Lynn Barnes if she would look at it. Not only did she give it high praise but she also wrote a foreword for it. Since then we have become internet friends and one day hope to meet. I was so pleased for her recently when she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for her services to postpartum illness.

Last autumn when I spoke at the Marce Society conference in Sydney my room mate was Jane Honikman - the lady who founded PSI back in 1987. What an honour!

I am delighted to be part of such a wonderful group which continues to help families the world over.

Postpartum Support International (PSI) was founded in 1987 by Jane Honikman and is headquartered in Santa Barbara, California. The purpose of the organization is to increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional changes that women experience during pregnancy and postpartum. Approximately 15% of all women will experience postpartum depression following the birth of a child. Up to 10% will experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy. When the mental health of the mother is compromised, it affects the entire family.

The organization has a volunteer coordinator in every one of the United States and in 26 countries. PSI disseminates information and resources through the volunteer coordinators, the website and an annual conference. The goal is to provide current information, resources, education, and to advocate for further research and legislation to support perinatal mental health.

I hope I can be a useful PSI member!


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Need to smile? Of course you do! Have a look at the pics at

Virtual clinic?

I have recently received this message which may be of interest.

Invitation to participate – Internet-based anxiety and depression programs
Clinicians and researchers at St Vincent’s Hospital and UNSW are now evaluating new Internet education and treatment programs for anxiety and depression. These programs are free, and are designed to help people understand their symptoms and how to start to get control over those symptoms.

People with anxiety or depression are invited to read more about the programs at and, if interested, to make an application to participate. The researchers are currently recruiting people with generalised anxiety disorder and will soon be recruiting people with panic disorder, depression, and social phobia. If you would be interested to participate, please visit their website for more information.

From the team at beyondblue
beyondblue: the national depression initiative
PO Box 6100


Monday, 25 May 2009

Brighter Futures!

Once in a while you meet someone who lights up a room just by being there - I have recently had the pleasure of meeting such a lady. She is called Janet and is involved with a group called Brighter Futures based in Selby, North Yorkshire.
Janet represents the ideal person to help those of us affected by mental health issues - she is warm, friendly, empathetic and fun to be with.

Have a look at

They meet on a weekly basis and they
aim to provide a
friendly, informal, optimistic,
stigma free and confidential
environment in which people living with emotional
& mental distress and their carers, friends,
family members can meet together.

You may be feeling isolated and low for a variety of reasons including family/relationship problems, work stress, unemployment and/or financial issues.

Even if you are not in that geographical area have a look at the pictures and jokes on their site - bet you cannot resist a smile!


Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Nursing in Practice event

Today I spoke at the excellent Nursing in Practice event held in the impressive Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

It was my first event for them so I had a relatively small seminar room which was completely full! So I hope to be asked to return! My book is going to be reviewed for both their journal and the CPHVA - the UK's leading professional organisation for health visitors, school nurses, nursery nurses and other community nurses working in primary care.

Nursing in Practice have written their account of the day here

As a speaker it is always good to be given plenty of information before the event, your presentation up and running ready for you and generally being 'looked after' - the NiP team certainly did that. Lunch in the Green Room was a real treat - thank you!

Due to attending a meeting in the morning I wasn't able to catch other presentations other than a fascinating one by the Royal Northern College of Music on their project on 'Music for Health'.

See future events here


What is missing from the NICE guidelines on APMH?

This morning I felt honoured to be welcomed into a meeting for the Perinatal Psychology Special Interest Group of the British Psychological Society.
The group aims are here

The purpose of the meeting was to look at the NICE guidelines on antenatal and postnatal mental health

As it is two years since these guidelines were produced they are due for review and we met to uncover what is missing from them and to back up or data with research evidence which has appeared since its publication.

The general attitude was that we were pleased that the guidelines had been produced as it had put the subject on a higher profile. However, there were many areas we felt were lacking.

Fundamentally we felt the main issue was that the mother was considered in relative isolation and very little importance placed on the effects on the infant, the partner and long-term effects if left untreated.

Are you involved with the NICE guidelines? What do you feel is missing?


Monday, 18 May 2009

Postpartum Progress

I have begun to use Twitter as another way to make connections and spread awareness and reduce stigma around postnatal illness.

Last night I did a topic search on postpartum depression to pick up US links. I was thrilled to find this link which informed me that my American contact Diana Lynn Barnes, who wrote the foreword for my book, has won a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in this area.
postpartumprogr: #postpartum Barnes Wins Welcome Back Award for Postpartum Depression Advocacy: Diana Lynn Barnes, Psy..

Well done Diana!

In addition I had a look around the excellent blog from which this link came - Postpartum Progress.

Have a look around! It's got a wealth of useful information.


Sunday, 17 May 2009

Another story of recovery from puerperal psychosis

I have received this story of another sufferer of puerperal psychosis. Although she is not fully recovered she is well on her way! Thank you for asking me to share it.

I was diagnosed with puerperal psychosis when my son was 3 months old. I'm not sure how it went undiagnosed for so long but i didn't start having hallucinations and delusions until after a prolonged period of sleep deprivation. I remember breastfeeding in the middle of the night and instead of being tired i would be wide awake and unable to sleep. When my son was born instead of feeling exhausted I felt elated, high and really powerful. I don't know if this was anything to do with the type of birthing experience i had (natural waterbirth -v strait forward) so i never really felt low, as time went on I just got higher and higher until i went hypermanic, manic, then psychotic.

Eventually it all went pear shaped and things went rapidly into decline. I thought my husband was the devil and my mum was a clown. I thought that my son was an alien from space. (all sounds pretty weird i know!) I was convinced that there were evil spirits in my sons room so i would go into his room in the middle of the night and shoo the spirits away. When I watched t.v I could see blood dripping down the screen.

I thought i was a magic fairy and that i could stop time. I thought my phone was magic and that i could order things using my phone such as a holiday.

My husband took me to see the doctor and she got in touch with the psychologist. When he came to see me I thought he was God who had come to test me to see if i'd been good enough to go to heaven. I remember eating meals and seeing the devil in my food. I found patterns in everything and didn't like it if people coughed or crossed their arms. (I felt as though they were being insincere if they did.)

I was given olanzapine and told to sleep as much as i could, which i did, only getting up to eat. When the medication helped me to sleep I still found i was experiencing psychotic symptoms. My husband and i took our son out for a walk and I remember feeling really paranoid as though everyone was talking about me behind my back. I also felt like i was on the Truman show. - like every thing was false and everyone was acting around me. Then i started to feel like i was in a complete state of deja vu which was frightening.

Eventually the medication took effect and the psychotic symptoms subsided. I had to stop breastfeeding which really upset me as i felt like a failure. It was then that I slipped into a depression. I was anxious, lost all my confidence and couldn't make decisions. I found it difficult to bond with my son and became withdrawn and anti social. I was offered antidepressants but didn't take them until 2 weeks later because I was unconvinced that they would make me feel any better. In the end i started to take the antidepressants which did made things better. I found i was able to 'get on' with things but felt like i was living in a fog. Everything was a major effort. I didn't know how to talk or play with my son, I found the days dragged on and i couldn't wait until it was time to go to bed and shut everything out. I had thoughts about committing suicide. I would get up in the morning and empty the dishwasher (a chore that i would dread) and take the knives out and think how easy it would be to end everything. I never attempted it, but used to have very negative thoughts. My whole body felt constantly heavy and i used to sleep from 7pm until 7am.

Gradually I showed signs of improvement - I started to do more and meet up with friends thought i never really felt like doing it. My psychologist suggested i wean myself of olanzapine. As i started to do so i noticed i had more energy and was able to concentrate on tasks like cooking and shopping. I went back to work part time when my son was 9 months old which i think did help although i did find going back extremely hard.

I have just weaned myself olanzapine completely this month and can honestly say i feel like a different person! My recovery has been a slow and steady process. I started to feel better when my son was about a year old, but didn't have the motivation that i have now.

I put on one and a half stone with olanzapine and have just lost a stone in six weeks after a change of diet and taking up exercise again which has brought back my confidence and raised my self esteem.

I'm going to see the psychologist tomorrow and i'm hoping that he will say i can reduce my antidepressants too. I don't mind taking antidepressants but i do find my emotions are suppressed when i'm on them.

If there is anyone out there who has been though pp who can relate to some of this i would be glad to hear from you.

If you are currently suffering from the illness or know someone close to you who is going through it, i know its awful, but things do get better. I never thought i'd feel normal again, but i really do.

My husband and i have talked about having another baby and despite suffering from a nightmare of an illness it hasn't put us off having another one. Plus i know they will provide lots of support if we decide to have baby number two, but at the moment we are concentrating on being a family just the three of us. Although i was always there for my son, i feel like i missed out because i was under a very dark cloud so now i just want to enjoy family life.

This story is also on - the writer uses this forum to chat to others that have suffered with pp and find it helpful.


Friday, 15 May 2009

An ACE day!

Yesterday I had an day with the Academy of Chief Executives at a conference. Clive has spoken for them at some of their groups and had been invited to attend by the Chair of one of them, Joe Adams. I tagged along as his partner and was warmly welcomed.

The venue was the stunning Warren House which has to be one of the most impressive I have been to. Beautiful building and grounds, top class service and delicious food. I highly recommend it.

The Academy for Chief Executives delivers Leadership Coaching, Mentoring and Experiential Learning. We inspire groups of CEOs and Managing Directors to learn alongside each other, to take advantage of a completely unbiased viewpoint and to receive support from people who understand your challenges as a business leader, because they face them too.

Joe Adams opened the conference and inspired us to make that extra 1% of effort across all areas of our businesses to achieve success. He made some effective statisitical examples of the tiny bit that makes all the difference, e.g. at 99 degrees water is hot - at 100 degrees it boils and there is steam! So what little bit can you do which will make your good into great?

Neil Poynter delivered a presentation on 'People are your biggest asset, how to maximise that asset'. Several of his points are applicable to my work as he cited that anxiety is a performance killer. Anxiety leads to stress which leads to depression - so my suggestions for postive mental well-being certainly apply to the workplace not just healthcare! His suggestions for a positive attitude and to make people feel valued and important are the same as my beliefs and recommendations.

I then attended a seminar by Damon Segal on marketing. My son Dominic would have been impressed with his use of the Apple Mac for a great visual presentation. He outlined the main aspects of marketing and I was especially pleased to hear him stress that social media is a big way forward - so immediately I sent a Twitter message!

Andy Lopata (a colleague from PSA) reminded me in his presentation of the many early morning networking meetings I have attended in recent years by going through the best ways of making referrals.

The main speaker of the day was F W de Clerk! Wow! When I was at college I visited my brother Kevin who at the time was doing his PhD in South Africa. I witnessed the reality of apartheid. So to be in a room with one of the key players in ending it was amazing. He is an outstanding speaker and gave an inspiring delivery of leadership and managing change. He reminded me to have a clear vision and to perservere until I achieve it!

After lunch I joined the networking session held by another PSA colleague, Rob Brown and had an energised and stimulating session where I was able to meet and 'network' in a variety of ways with many ACE members.

This was my second ACE event - I attended a speaker day last year. I initially felt overwhelmed then and that the 'corporate world' was not my audience. However, after several conversations at the event yesterday I feel even more that mental health is a huge and valid area which does need to be highlighted. The business world does need to ensure that good mental health is important and all leaders in every field need to address their own mental health needs plus those of their employees. Not only will sickness rates be lowered but productivity will increase!

I have my first 'business' audience at Liverpool Chamber of Commerce on 19th June. Thank you to Clive and ACE for yesterday and inspiring me to take that extra 1% of effort to make my vision of reducing the stigma around mental illness and promoting wellbeing even sharper!

See Clive's version of the day here


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Home - Start presentation

I had a very enjoyable morning today presenting my story, the signs to look for and the strategies to help those affected by postnatal depression to volunteers from the St. Helens branch of Home-Start.

Through a network of more than 15,000 trained parent volunteers we support thousands of parents who are struggling to cope. Our families need support for many reasons including post-natal illness, disability, bereavement, the illness of a parent or child, or social isolation. Parents supporting other parents - to help build a family's confidence and ability to cope.

I shall be making sure I tell the health professionals I meet about this service because so many families would benefit from the support. The volunteers I met today I thought were wonderful!

Perhaps if you suffered in the past from PND and now are well and have some time to spare perhaps Home-Start would be good for you to help? Have a look at their website to see how you can help. Or just want to help regardless!


Saturday, 9 May 2009

From filming to fantasy with Enrique!

Yesterday Clive and I had a fun time doing some new film clips for our websites with

Stuart, their creative director, put me at ease and off we went!

We used the facilities at the amazing Oasis Academy at Immingham
which opened in September 2007, replacing Immingham School.

Oasis Academy Immingham is sponsored by Oasis Community Learning, which is a separate charity, but is part of the Oasis Global family. Oasis UK, a Christian organisation, was founded by Rev Steve Chalke M.B.E. in 1985, and began its work in the UK but now delivers educational, healthcare and housing projects throughout the world.

Thanks for a great day guys and I look forward to seeing the final cuts!


P.S. After that I headed back into Manchester to see Enrique Inglesias in concert with my Mum and sister. Fabulous show! He made every woman's fantasy come true when he plucked a girl (she was only 15!!!) from the audience and sang 'Hero' to her whilst he stroked and held her!!!! Thanks Mum and Claire!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The church and postnatal depression?

Earlier in the year when Clive and I did a joint workshop on personal development one of the delegates expressed an interest to do an event with me.
He is involved with a church in Leeds and they are keen to support the community in as many ways as possible. Listening to my story he realised that there may be a role his church could play in helping families affected by this illness.
This is something I have been keen to explore for a long while and had been trying to start it in my locality but sadly when I left my previous home, contact has disappeared.
So being given another chance is fantastic as I feel that there are ways that the church community CAN assist the NHS and other services to help work together.
Today we had a very enthusiastic meeting to set up an event late September (to be confirmed) to involve families, church members, NHS and others in the community.
Has anyone come across this model elsewhere? If so please let me know.

Watch this space!


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

BBC Radio Manchester

This morning I was on the Heather Stott BBC Manchester coffee shop slot discussing the days news 9 - 10 a.m.

Fellow guests were Clive Gott - hmm, yes, think I've heard of him before and the lovely Valerie who is a social worker but also is training to become an actress and sings in a choir. She is charming and was on the receiving end of Clive's attention!

We had a lively hour discussing issues of the day ranging from the threat by Marks and Spencer to charge more for bigger bras to more serious topics of child behaviour in school. As usual Heather gave me the opportunity to mention my story and I hope it continues to inspire others who may not be feeling well currently.

Thank you for having us!


Reasons to be cheerful in the speaking business!

Last night I chaired the NW chapter of the Professional Speakers Association meeting at The City Inn Manchester.
The venue did us proud as usual

We had two fantastic speakers.
Clive Gott was the first. He had said he was 'going to love us to death and let us know that there is a whole load of business out there and there are many reasons to be cheerful'. And he did!

In a time when the media would have us believe that Armageddon is just around the corner and most if not all small business owners are going to be throwing themselves off the nearest bridge Clive Gott has just enjoyed his busiest and most lucrative first quarter to a year in his ten year career as a professional speaker.

Clive says “The work is out there, we just have to come up with different ways to get it”

In his presentation Clive shared with us at least five reasons why we should rejoice over the present climate not including “at least we aren’t in the car business” (that’s a free one that is worth remembering).

Clive also shared with us at least five ways that we can move forward when everyone else is (apparently) standing still or worse including “Lowering fees is one option, providing more value is a better one.” In short Clive explained how he has taken the recession by the throat and said “I’m not done yet.”

He is celebrating his 10 years in business with an amazing event in York on 10th June. See full details here

We then were totally inspired by a brilliant presentation from Enzo Calamita who spoke to us about the need for passion in our performances and how we are in a very privileged position as speakers to breathe life and enthusiasm into our audiences IF we have the skill and fire to do so. Fantastic!

Both speakers at this meeting were excellent at putting over that our profession is not about earning pots of money but actually making a difference out there and touching people's lives. I agree completely and it is always a pleasure to spend time with my friends and colleagues who share that view.

Thank you guys!

Our next meeting is on the 5th June when Will Kintish will be sharing with us how to grow your speaking opportunities using LinkedIn.

Thanks to all who attended and made it a great evening!


Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Recovery after puerperal psychosis

It is always a pleasure to hear that someone has benefited from reading my book.

Recently I received this message, which I have permission to share, as it is another example of recovery after puerperal psychosis.

Dear Elaine,

I'm so pleased I found your website on a post natal depression website!

I read your book last year whilst recovering from puerperal psychosis and found it very reassuring and helpful. I was diagnosed with the illness when my son was three months old. I was very lucky that no harm came to me or my son, but my recovery has taken me nearly two years. I have just this month come off anti-psychotic medication and feel like the old me. (I never thought I would ever again.)I am still taking anti depressants as following the psychosis I slipped into a deep depression. I would love to tell you my story, I experienced some very strange things while psychotic as everyone does with the illness.

My son will be 2 in July and I feel like I can finally enjoy him now.

Kindest regards

Sukina x

Brilliant! I shall pass on her full story at a later stage.

Thank you Sukina for allowing me to share this inspiring message - the only way is up!


Sunday, 3 May 2009

Free delivery on my book until 18th May!

Tesco has a free delivery offer on books until 18th May - including mine.

If you wish to order 'Eyes without Sparkle - a journey through postnatal illness' go to


Mother's Day USA

According to Wikipedia Mother's Day holiday, in the United States and Canada, celebrates motherhood generally and the positive contributions of mothers to society. It falls on the second Sunday of each May. It is the result of a campaign by Anna Marie Jarvis (1864–1948), who, following the death of her mother on May 9, 1905, devoted her life to establishing Mother's Day as a national, and later an international, holiday.​Mother's_​Day_(United_​States)

So best wishes to all those American Moms for next weekend!

When I was at the National Speaker's Association in New York last year my path crossed with Dr. Lawana Gladney who is a renowned speaker, author, and emotional wellness expert who shares her message of perseverance and motivation with audiences across the nation. Like many women, she has a career, an advanced education, is a successful business owner, wife and mother of four school-aged children. And like the typical woman, she has juggled all of these things while dealing with the emotional drainage of life's everyday issues.

I receive her newsletter now and these tips are useful for us all.

1. Organize Your Day
There is something to be said for organization. Things that are organized can flow more naturally and save a tremendous amount of time. Know what things that you have scheduled at work and home so that you won't find yourself being overwhelmed by time eaters.

2. Lose the Guilt
This emotion alone can weigh you down. It is like an invisible weight that tugs at your heart. Some working mothers feel guilty leaving their children because they have to work, while others feel guilty leaving their kids because they want to work. In either case, you wrestle with the fact that you may miss your babies first steps or you miss the school play because of a late night meeting, and heaven forbid you miss tip off at the basketball game. Understand that guilt comes along with being a mother. We can't be everywhere, do it all, and control all situations.

3. Plan Quality Family Time.
Quality family time has become a lost art. We think about family time when we plan our family vacations. That is the epitome of family time. Okay, but the vacation usually only last for a week or two. What happens with the other 50 weeks of the year? If you don't plan it, it won't just happen. Here two suggestions to get you started. 1) Plan at least 2-3 days a week where you can sit down and enjoy dinner together. That may mean the weekends but I recommend time during the week. It's a great time to keep in touch with your kids. 2) Schedule at least one day a month for family game night.

4. Prioritize your life.
If you were asked to name the top three things that are important to you, I would be willing to assure you that family would be number 1 or number 2 on the list. If that is the case, just how much time are you spending on your family or your other top priorities? It is likely that your time is not aligned with your priorities. Learn how to conscientiously allot time to the things that are of the greatest value to you and make you the happiest.

5. Set up Chores for the Family
In my last book, If I Have to Tell You One More Time, 6 Keys to Motivating Your Kids, I discuss how get kids to love to do their chores. Assigning chores and teaching your children how to clean up will not only save you money and time from having to hire someone or doing it yourself, but it also teaches them how to be responsible and prepares them for the future.

6. Don't Try to Be "Super Mom"
It's official; I give you permission to take your cape off. Somewhere in the early 80's after the commercial, I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never, never, never let you forget you're a man, cause I'm a woman broke onto the scene, gave us this indelible notion that we can "do it all." Well, I am here to say, we can't. There are only so many hours in the day and we only so much energy to accomplish before we run out of steam. We are not like the super heroes who have been given extraordinary powers to conquer the world. So stop comparing yourself to other mom's who you may think have it all together. Just focus on what you can do and let the rest go.

Excerpts from - You Can't Be Sick, I Have to Work.... 50 Tips to Emotional Wellness for Working Mothers

I am hoping to see Dominic later after he has climbed Snowdon with his Dad!


Friday, 1 May 2009

Patient Involvement and Empowerment

I have always been keen to give feedback to services I have received from hotels, to shops and to the NHS. I recently wrote to compliment the excellent team on ward G1 at York hospital after my recent stay. Patients should be considered and involved in their care and treatment and I encourage them to do so. It's not all about complaining!
A forthcoming conference may be of use to you if this is an area of interest, by Healthcare Events.

Eighth Annual Conference
Patient Involvement and Empowerment 2009

Thursday 21 May 2009
76 Portland Place, London

The recent Ara Darzi review High Quality Care for All calls for more patient involvement and a more patient centered partnership approach. One of these measures includes patients own views on the success of their treatment and the quality of their experiences.

“The vision this report sets out is of an NHS that gives patients and the public more information and choice, works in partnership and has quality of care at its heart – quality defined as clinically effective, personal and safe” High Quality Care for All: NHS Next Stage Final Report, 30th June 2008

Chaired by Graham English Executive Director The NHS Centre for Involvement, this conference provides an important update on recent changes in patient involvement and empowerment.

As well as learning from the experts you will have the opportunity to join the conference debate: What are the critical factors that organisations should have in place to support effective patient and public involvement?

Topics include:
 Patient involvement and empowerment: delivering high quality care for all
 True involvement and empowerment
 Patient involvement for patient safety
 LINks: developments and moving forward
 Learning from patient experience: making real change and increasing diversity
 Working with patients to deliver improvement and redesign through lean thinking
 Involving the patients and the public in commissioning
 Managing the financial elements of user involvement
 User led and user enabled services

Keynote speakers:
 Graham English Executive Director The NHS Centre for Involvement
 Joan Saddler OBE National Director Patient and Public Affairs Department of Health

PLUS workshops:
 A guide to Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs)
 The patient/service user perspective: clinical outcomes v patient outcomes: is there a disparity?
 Integrating Patient Reported Outcome Measures with clinical data
 Developing a training and support programme
 Techniques, tools and training for involvement

PLUS Consensus: what are the critical factors that organisations should have in place to support effective patient and public involvement?

Related links.....

 Patient and public empowerment
 Patient and Public Involvement Specialist Library
 High Quality Care for All: NHS Next Stage Review final report

CPD approval being sought, IHM and PiF recognised conference

To download a copy of the conference programme, please see

To find out more, please either email or call Hanisha on 020 8541 1399