Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The NAPS Conference.(National Association of PMS). A Summary.

The National Association of Premenstrual Syndromes Annual conference.

Last week I was lucky enough to be able to attend the conference. I say lucky as its normally only professional medical personnel whom are invited. As far as I know only myself and one other sufferer have ever been granted access, and so it was both a privilege and an honour.

I was representing the Gia Allemand Foundation in the hope of further collaboration and the sharing of any relevant  information which maybe shared with our own clinical advisory board.

There were several senior consultants in attendance.

Mr Nick Panay, Chairman of NAPS and Consultant Gynaecologist.
Dr Michael Craig,  Gynaecologist and senior lecturer in reproductive psychiatry.
Dr Louise Newson. Clinician and Menopause expert.
Dr Carrie Sadler. Clinician and trustee for NAPS, as well as research roles in PMS.
Dr Hannah Short. Clinician and Trustee for NAPS and assistant in Gynaecology.

After Mr Panay's welcome, DR Louise Newson gave a talk on HRT and the role which it now plays in our society. As there have been a huge amount of  negative media reports, Louise was able to explain the different types of HRT available and what they mean for our health both emotionally and physically.

As many women suffer enormously during their reproductive lives she was able to dispel the myths of HRT being carcinogenic and also the benefits of some being able to allow the continuation of a fulfilling sex life. She also highlighted the fact that natural hormonal intervention can protect us from heart and vascular diseases, as well as protect our bone density and emotional stability.

DR Michael Craig's talk was absolutely fascinating as he was able to share the latest brain imaging slides and talked extensively about how males and females empathise in an entirely different way.
Indeed the response in the Amygdala was visually different on the scan, and cerebral blood flow in mental rotational tasks was less active in the males.
He also explained how in autistic humans there were much higher testosterone levels, although at present we don't yet know why. The crossing of cortisol into the placenta and into amniotic fluid also seems to have some relevance here too.

In terms of reproductive depression traits, so PMDD and PND, the binding of oestrogen to serotonin receptors was also compromised, which also increased the risk of both Alzheimer's disease, and dementia. This lack of efficiency in binding is also critical in both epilepsy and migraine with aura, and so therefore may also be attributed to that.

Its important to say the Dr Craig found a 50 percent co-morbidity rate with core pre-menstrual disorders, which surprised me enormously. I had expected the number to be lower as a Pre-menstrual exacerbation, but it was indeed clarified by Dr Nick Panay when I questioned him further during coffee break. In other words there is often an underlying mental health disorder, whether it be major depressive disorder or even bipolar,which then activates extensively during the late luteal phase..

Mr Panay's talk was obviously greatly anticipated and it has to be said that he is also the nicest, kindest doctor you could ever wish to meet. He is full of compassion for all suffering women and utterly dedicated to his work. He is also anxious to collaborate with the Gia Allemand Foundation and swap dialogue with Professors in the States. This can only mean more research and more understanding for the long term.

Firstly he spoke about the importance of charting the symptoms in order to gain further clarity and the knowledge that PMDD/PMS is organic in origin. So therefore, it has a cellular cause with multiple aetiology and is a biological disorder. He spoke about the recent findings in cellular response and gene variants published by the Institute of health in North Carolina. He also told of the complexity in the sequences of cells and how they respond to oestrogen and progesterone. The struggle is real.

The complementary therapies for PMS which show the most promising results are,

Strict diet and exercise intervention.
Vitamin B6- 10-50 mgs daily.
Calcium, of which the evidence is consistent.
Isoflavones,  particularly when there is migraine with aura.
Agnus Cactus, BUT it must be of exceptionally high quality.
St Johns Wort which also showed a significant change in symptoms.

Once however, the symptoms move into PMDD criteria,
Antidepressants for the short term,
Hormonal therapy for the long term, particularly if suicidal tendencies are present.
The contraceptive birth control which had shown the most significant results was YAZ which has a license for PMDD because it contains the lowest amount of synthetic progestins.

GNHR Analogues, both Zoladex and synarel were both more effective than tibilone but Mr Panay highlighted the need for regular bone scans and the need for a multidisciplinary approach. Last but not least, was the hysterectomy and removal of ovaries which of course is the most effective. If the sufferer doesn't respond well to hysterectomy, she must be scanned for Ovarian Remnant syndrome and even recommenced on the GNRH analogue.

During Dr Carrie Sadler and Dr Hannah Shorts question time I expressed my concern that so many women were having a severe and catastrophic response to both Depo injection and the Mirena coil, (myself included). Dr Sadler explained that again, it was the intolerance to progestin which would cause this. Personally I would like to have had a warning of some kind before using Depo, however its highly probable that anyone using Depo wouldn't realise the severity of the long term effects, and would at least have it once regardless.
 I also expressed my concerns about using synthetics particularly on young pubescent girls who have yet to establish a cycle, but are often given birth control pills as a response to painful periods.

Sadly there is no such categorisation of prescribing synthetic hormones and regard to mental health.
This is all the more worrying as now there is a self administered contraceptive injection available which anyone can use at home.

On the whole the conference was informative, interesting and confirmation of the huge amount of research that is going on behind the scenes for all suffering women. I am delighted that I was able to attend and bring you this information and hope to be invited again. In the meantime it is important to mention that the Gia Allemands Foundation also has a conference in October. Register now at to learn more and view it on live stream.

Take care of you.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Anti-depressants, Good or Bad??

Morning everyone!

I hope this finds you well and not suffering too greatly. Unfortunately, for many of us living with long term illness, the Winter itself can bring added issues, with long dark days adding to our low mood. The flu virus has been particularly aggressive this year, and is harder to shake off if you are suffering from a mood disorder of any kind. I'm hoping that this latest cold snap will be the last of it, and we can now look forward to the Spring and the sense of hope that it brings with it.

Just when I was struggling with something inspiring to write about, this week 2 articles were written in the newspaper (both the Daily Mail and The Mirror) which provided me with immense food for thought. The subject of anti-depressant medication never fails to rouse the hackles, and is both controversial and greatly misunderstood.
 As with all medication there are side effects, some serious, some not so serious, and never before has a drug been so infamously discussed.
Unfortunately there was, in my opinion, one very unbalanced article written about psychiatric medication, clearly by a journalist who had never needed them,,, and then there was another by Fearne Cotton, who had needed medical intervention, and had used antidepressants temporarily with good results.

Suffering from depression, regardless of whether it is hormonal in origin, or through trauma or genetics, is extremely serious indeed, and is also a killer.
 In the UK alone last year, there were 6581 suicides, a tragic statistic which shows both the aggression of depression and the harsh reality.
 The struggle is real, and you cannot override a depressive illness with the power of subjective thought, no more than a diabetic can create their own insulin. My own illness, I have no stigmas and make no apology for it, showed itself by the time I was 14 and has a genetic input for sure. (I'm just about to have my DNA analysed, so will be able to tell you for sure very shortly, which gene is responsible).

Both articles I read this week have shown both the downside and the healing power of SSRI medication, and I too want to show the balanced side, so please bear with me.

The negative argument for antidepressants is the side effects of course, the worst being within the first few weeks of taking them, and a period of adjustment, until the body becomes used to them. ALL drugs have side effects even paracetamol, but it has to be said that the side effects of antidepressants can be troublesome in most cases. Sadly this is what causes people to discontinue them before they've had a chance to kick in,up to 6 weeks in some people.

 The second, is the difficulties experienced in coming off them, and quite often this is where most people have the greatest problems both physical and emotional.

 Last year, I attempted to taper down using the ten percent rule, so ten percent taken away each week until the weaning process was completed. As we know.... see my last blog, this didn't work and the consequences were both serious and dire. The subsequent blog I wrote after also caused some controversy and unfortunately I didn't choose my words very carefully (so sorry). Needless to say I've had to resume taking them, and I've have had a full and complete recovery since I'm happy to say.

After this last setback, I went on to research anti-depressants extensively and even approached senior mental healthcare professionals in the hope that they could help me shed some light on why, despite a hysterectomy, I still was unable to be fully cured and medication free. The explanation they gave me seemed to be the best I can find,and I will share it with you now if I may.

Once you use SSRI medication, and particularly if you use them LONGTERM, the brain itself finds it almost impossible to then produce its own Serotonin. It seems to 'forget' how to do it and this increases ten fold  if you've used them for more than 5 years.( I've been on them for 30).

 The best way to describe it, and the easiest way to understand it is.... if you don't use a muscle in the body for many many years it will gradually waste away and become incompetent. This is known as atrophy and can happen anywhere in the body..... a kind of 'use it or lose it philosophy'.

 Somehow, this happens to the pathways in the brain...... they have now become so used to the action of the SSRI, that the normal uptake of serotonin is lost, if that makes sense.  The brain has made a new pathway in serotonin and dopamine production, and it seems that it is very difficult to reverse that processing. Although people have managed to discontinue after many years usage, it is both a long and arduous journey which can take many months or even years......(I'm trying to keep it real). The physical symptoms of withdrawal can often leave a discontinuation syndrome which in itself can be extremely debilitating and is often the reason for going back on them.

 Within my own illness,it could also mean that as well as a PMDD disorder, I had trouble regulating and producing Serotonin from the very beginning. This would explain several generations of depressive disorders in my family, as well as hormonal related illness. Quite often there can be several different illnesses running alongside each other, which I accept is not my original stance when I wrote I blame the Hormones.(sorry again).

What came first of course is anybodies guess and there are no easy answers! The low serotonin could have effected the hormones somehow, the hormones could have effected the serotonin somehow??
I really don't know.....and I'm just trying to survive.

When I think of my grandmothers generation, I'm so grateful that I came along when the management of depression was by medication, and that it was effective. I'm so happy that I've been able to cope on a daily basis, and I have the luxury of living when it is denied to so many. I'm also grateful to the skills of our scientists who have freed us from the barbaric lobotomy, and the institutionalisation of human beings that are sick. I'm delighted too that we are researching how hormones themselves can destabilise the mind and mimic mental illness. I also accept, that medication isn't perfect, it is flawed, but I also know that we are too,,,,,, we are all imperfect somehow.

If one can find a cure that is homeopathic, holistic, scientific or otherwise, then so be it. I would have sold my own soul if it meant I stayed alive and I still stand by my firmly held belief, that my hysterectomy was the best thing that happened to me. I  still have to take medication, but does that matter as long as I'm well?

 What matters more is that I'm transparent in my journey and honest, even if that means I have to back track on my original convictions.

 Fearne Cottons honesty in her article shines like a beacon giving hope and clarity to anyone suffering from depression. In particular, those that are nervous and stigmatised by the use of medication, will be empowered that a high profile women has found courage, and has spoken out.

What doesn't help is the generalisation and negativity surrounding anti-depressants, when in fact, they have saved so many. All too often we focus on the downside of the SSRi  when in fact millions are still alive because of them (myself included). Concentrating on the bad side of psychiatric medication, stops people getting the help they need, which in itself is both unnecessary and quite dangerous if  medication is urgently needed. Balance is the key,showing both the good and the bad,and also deciphering whether they are genuinely needed. Certainly if you are suffering from suicidal idealisation, then you should seek professional intervention as a matter of urgency.

I look forward to a time in the future when we will all be free of illness and no longer need any medication, but until that day comes, we must all do the best we can.

I blame the Hormones can be downloaded onto Kindle, smartphone, I pad, tablet or PC. Please leave a review and please reach out to me if you need to.

Peace and love, Suzi x

Monday, 28 November 2016

Life after a hysterctomy....... Does it work?

After years of suffering from a hormonal based mood disorder,its now been 4 years this week exactly since I took the step to have a radical hysterectomy, along with the removal of ovaries. This came after an exhausting battle with PMDD, and an even longer battle with both psychiatry,holistic intervention, life style changes and trying every available medication known to man, to try and put an end to the monthly misery.

Nothing worked....or rather nothing worked for the long term, and everything that did work, gradually lost its efficacy. I was also sick of trying and being lulled into a false sense of security until once again, the next intervention failed, it was just so draining and well,tiresome.
 In November 2012, I finally underwent major surgery and because of the oophorectomy, added back the necessary hormones I needed in order to protect my heart and bones. I can tell you now that my life has been transformed in so many ways, and the brutal cycling which had been with me since early adolescence had finally come to an end.

Or so I thought.

The change was so great and so complete, that in May this year I decided to begin to taper off of anti-depressant medication in the hope of being free of them and the side effects. The weight gain in particular had begun to effect my self esteem, and I relished the thought of having an increased sex drive.

Firstly, I researched the correct way to approach the taper, and after taking lots of notes and advice , used the ten per cent rule which seemed to be the most effective. I took away ten percent of the SSRi weekly, thus avoiding any unnecessary withdrawal and minimising the discontinuation syndrome.

The first couple of months appeared to be absolutely fine,and I had no adverse effects at all. I seemed to gain more confidence as I finally dared to hope that I had conquered my own disorder. Sometimes I felt a little euphoric and the pounds just melted away, with lots of people commenting on my slender waistline. Gradually however, things began to change, and by October I was only using a  minuscule amount of medication. Sure enough day by day, sometimes hourly, things went rapidly downhill and I was filled with the onslaught of the familiar mental chatter.

The first thing I noticed was a return of my misophonia (severe hatred of sound). Slowly and surely the irritability returned and an incomprehensible rage came over me which filled me with a sense of dread,as I knew by now what was likely to happen. Despite my knowledge of the disorder, I still managed to convince myself that I would be able to override this latest set back, and  I desperately tried to practise mindfulness, affirmations and relaxation techniques. I increased my supplementation and vitamins, and desperately clung onto any coping strategy that I could think of while all the while I was sinking.......and sinking fast.

I'm not going to say how much further things went, but what I will say is that a week or so down the line I was once again having suicidal thoughts, was extremely paranoid and bordering on delusional. My thought processing was completely out of control,I was wildly racing and completely irrational.

This my friends is serious, and not to mention dangerous.

So what was going on? And how have I managed to rationalise this in my own mind?

Since feeling better, and yes I've had to start taking my medication as a matter of great urgency, I've researched extensively. So here now are my findings and the possible causes for this latest setback.

1. The discontinuation syndrome caused by the SSRi was too fast and caused a sudden decline. This is quite probable as I have been on medication since I was 14 years of age. It has also taken three weeks or so to stabilise, so I'm pretty sure I had hardly any in my system at all.

2. The effects of the hysterectomy have 'run out' and as before, my body has started to cycle again. Its hard to say as yet whether the cycling is regular, but there were two consecutive months of symptoms but not a third. The third would be now covered by the SSRi so I'm  afraid I cant categorically answer this (sorry).

3. My original diagnoses of PMDD was running alongside something else, so therefore a PME diagnoses would have been more likely (Pre-menstrual exacerbation). Scientists call this a 'co-morbid' disorder which means that two or even more illnesses are running alongside each other and so the diagnoses is both sketchy and disorganised.( This is the most likely I have found).

4. As I've now been on medication since I was so young, my brain has simply forgotten how to produce its own serotonin and even how to regulate it. Scientists also confirm that this can happen and I have also rated this explanation as highly probable.

5.Last but not least, I am simply a loon with more disorders than can be mentioned and no hope of finding out which came first. This would mean a complicated chicken and egg situation which may have no firm answers. This is of course a great concern to me, and as much as I hate to bring you this sudden decline in mental health, I've always written with honesty and integrity. It is my wish that any fellow sufferer knows all the facts, even though they may be hard to stomach. I'm obviously concerned that anyone who is waiting for a hysterectomy maybe desperately worried as they cling onto that one possibility of a cure.

One thing is for sure and that is, I still maintain that the hysterectomy has indeed transformed my life. I've had four 'clear' years and now the SSRI works, where as before, it didn't work at all.  As I write this blog I'm now stable, free of anxiety and filled with clarity. I just have to accept that my body through what ever reason, simply doesn't produce serotonin. Its highly probable,inevitable even, that I will be on medication for the rest of my life.

 I'm not going to say that I'm not disappointed because I am, but anything is better than the misery of this dreadful mood disorder, whatever it may be. I just need  so desperately to be here and to look after my family, to stay alive and because of that I have to do whatever it takes.

Today I can categorically say to you that I am well. And that I am grateful.

I Blame the Hormones can be purchased on Amazon under the Pseudonym of Caroline Church. It can be downloaded onto Kindle, Smartphone, IPad, PC or any tablet. Please leave a review.

God Bless, Suzi x

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Chronic Fatigue syndrome and hormonal issues.

Morning ladies. Today's blog has been written in the hope of finding some help for those with chronic fatigue. I have yet to meet a sufferer who hasn't experienced it in some way shape or form, and it also has started to gather more media attention of late, with the associated fibromyalgia.

I've been trying to figure out what comes first, the mood disorder or the endless exhaustion, the aches and pains, or the depression and anxiety. And guess what........ As of yet there are no clear cut answers. All we know is that very often, if not always, they go hand in hand ,which only adds to the general misery for the many, many sufferers worldwide.

So what then causes it? And what does it feel like?

As is usual with these things, there are no clear cut answers, but I can tell you from my own experience that there is nothing more miserable than a life filled with an endless desire to be in bed. This is not the typical exhaustion associated with the business called life, so work and children, but more a compulsion to sleep and a mind numbing, mental fatigue that leaves you walking through treacle. I myself spent so much time asleep, by midday at least, I was longing for the comfort of my bed, and would often feel overwhelmed and unable to cope until I had my fix. Sometimes I slept a 17 hour day and would still feel exhausted. My eyes would burn and I always felt drugged as I went about my daily chores, which were often done in slow motion. I called it 'my jet lag tiredness' as that's the only way I could describe it to those around me. People would often remark at how much I slept, and most holidays were wasted, as I quite often missed half of it sleeping the days away.

After my hysterectomy in 2012, I was so grateful when my body sprang into life. It wasn't immediate, but as the months went by, I started to 'wake up' , quite literally. I simply couldn't believe how energised I felt,and at times felt a little excited by the new me. Everything had gained a new sense of clarity, which convinced me once more that my exhaustion was caused by a reaction to my own hormones.

What else could it be?

As we know, hormones during pregnancy also have a sedative effect, particularly during the first few months when the outpouring of oestrogen and progesterone floods the female body. Well I felt like that everyday and for years and years and really didn't have any quality of life at all. It really was that bad. Hormones can affect emotional health too, and can often destabilize the women after pregnancy, during the pre-menstrual time and then again leading up to menopause. Some doctors call this reproductive depression, some say a hormonal based mood disorder, but whatever way you look at it its abysmal to say the least.

What a life for the suffering women, just at the most critical years of her life!

It is absolutely wonderful that I'm now free from exhaustion and very rarely have to take a nap. I've gone from quite often being bed bound, to writing a book which I can tell you is a miracle indeed. I can enjoy my children more, take regular exercise and every day means something, which is a new revelation. I now have a life , not just an existence and I'm just so, so grateful.

If you are suffering from CFS you are not alone, and there are many, many of us out there.

 I asked some of those sufferers what has helped them most, and here's the results.

1. Maintain an exemplary diet. So at least 5 a day of the most nutritious foods you can find. I use a Nutri-bullet with added green powders containing wheatgrass, Spirulina and chlorophyll. Cut out ALL junk food. I never eat it as I now consider it a poison, which of course it is. Maintain a decent weight (hard I know) and be mindful of how much alcohol you are drinking ( even harder still!).

2. Exercise. Yes I know this is difficult when you are exhausted but, it has been proven categorically that even a ten minute walk releases endorphins and energises the body. I use Bikram if I'm exhausted, as it's slow and low intensity. I also regularly take a sauna and a steam which invigorates me enormously.

3. Get your iron levels checked, and use a decent supplement. A friend told me about Floradix and I've never looked back. A cheaper version is Feroglobin , both do not cause constipation and as most women are borderline anaemic, its absolutely vital.

4. Take the following vitamins, Vitamin D, B6, B12, magnesium, Calcium, Zinc and Vitamin C. The key is regularity, so every single day of your life.

5. Accept that you have a hormonal disorder and find the correct specialist. Don't give up, help is out there. DO NOT accept a half life. Contact me and I will help you if I can, and if I cant, I know someone that can.

6. Meditation can help. My friend Sarah practises visualization techniques which you can learn to do yourself. I still have to try to 'still' my mind now, particularly in times of stress which remember, will always be with us. Life can be overwhelming, exhausting and demanding and everyone needs to take steps to counteract the effects of it, easy to say I know.

7. Take it easy with yourself. Don't beat yourself up. its not your fault. Its a disorder, not a decision, and its exhausting like nothing else. Be kind to yourself and snuggle up. Its sometimes the only thing you can do.

8. Take massive doses of Omega 3 which can help enormously with brain function. Again, take them every single day of your life, forever.

9. WATER. Be sure that you are not dehydrated. Flood yourself with water and for extra help use Himalayan salt which you can add to anything, food, smoothies, even your greens.  Dehydration is responsible for many ailments both emotional, and physical.

10. Look after your gut health. Take a decent probiotic, everyday, forever. Its hard to remember but we must to protect ourselves from the depletion of minerals which can often be caused by a leaky gut.

'I blame the Hormones' can be downloaded on PC, smartphone, I pad or kindle and is published by HarperCollins. This publication is the first of its kind, as far as I know and I'm hoping it is helping sufferers world wide.

 If you have found anything specific that has lifted your chronic fatigue please let me know and I can share with others. The only way to beat this disorder is by sharing dialogue, helping one another, raising awareness and education.

You can email me at

 In the meantime, happy hormones, happy health.


Thursday, 14 April 2016

A case study. A young women in crisis.

A few weeks back, through friends of a friend, I was approached by a lady who was beside herself with worry and concern for her beautiful young daughter.
Tammy was just 26 years old and had lost her smile, was increasingly depressed and was suffering from anxiety. I have to say, this concerned me a great deal, and I was only too happy to give my opinion. We met together (both mum and daughter) and I gathered as much information as I could in the hope of finding a reason for her gradual and increasing melancholy.

At first, it was hard to ascertain whether her symptoms were hormonal in origin, or the result of her recent break up with her boyfriend, but as we talked it didn't take long to figure it out, and the cyclical elements of PMS became more and more apparent.

The first trigger I found was that Tammy had used the contraceptive implant, and that was the first time she remembered having a change in personality. Not all women have a negative response to synthetic hormones, but many many women do and I could clearly see the link. Following that, Tammy started to become withdrawn, was suffering from feelings of panic and had even started to develop various phobias. She was a shadow of her former self, and sadly it was getting worse every month during the lead up to her period. Only once menstruation had commenced ,would she then find a total relief of symptoms. Unfortunately for Tammy, she was also beginning to feel that life wasn't worth living, which worried her parents enormously. I too was extremely concerned for this lovely young women who should have been in the prime of her life and was suffering so much. She had long since given up work, was isolated and despairing from the severe emotional anguish which came around month after month.

Tammy however, was extremely fortunate. Her family were able to afford private healthcare, and within a week were able to see the most amazing Professor John Studd who is a  pioneer of hormonal intervention in depressed women. He has helped thousands of women with hormonal mood disorders and I just knew that he would be able to turn this situation around, which of course he did.
After a lengthy consultation, blood tests and more, he prescribed Oestrogen gel, some testosterone and a progesterone tablet, in the hope that Tammy would be free of the dreadful symptoms she was experiencing.

Well I can tell you that the results have been staggering!

 Within a week her mum had rang to say that she had got her daughter back! Tammy was singing, joyful and free of all negative emotions. It really had worked and the relief for her family was absolutely indescribable. Tammy was able to enjoy life, and had even returned to work. I was absolutely delighted for her and amazed that it had worked so quickly and so well!

Tammy was proof that finding the right specialist, getting the correct diagnoses, and using the correct medicine could conquer her PMDD, and the first monthly period passed with ease. As with my own story, lives can be transformed and I was so happy I was able to intervene before the situation became even more critical. For those that cant afford private healthcare, you should ask your GP for a referral to a PMS/PMDD specialist which you can ask for and insist on. Don't take no for an answer and if the answer is no, find another GP!

My memoir 'I blame the Hormones' can be downloaded onto Kindle, Smartphone, I pad or any PC. Please share this news with your friends and help save lives. There is help available if we are all able to access the correct information.

Peace and love as always, Suzi.

Ps. Thank you Tammy for allowing me to use this important information.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Mood changes after childbirth and the PMDD link.

Morning ladies. First of all thank you to all those that reached out to me yesterday via this blog and via Twitter. I am delighted to tell you that I've made some very important contacts in this field, and I was even more delighted when I awoke this morning to see The Daily Mails headlines on the front pages concerning our failing maternity services..

For those of you across the various ponds, The Daily Mail is a leading newspaper in the UK, and the headlines could not please me more as a sufferer of both postnatal depression, and PMDD.

In the UK you can choose to have your baby in a hospital setting or at home and also there are now birthing units across the country which are midwife led. You can opt to have your baby where you wish, and as long as you have no complications of pregnancy, are encouraged to go home within 8 hours of giving birth. So here is my experience after the birth of my second child and why I feel so strongly about this particular article.

I was 36 years old and already had a 5 year old son, when I became pregnant once again. Unfortunately, I was already a single parent (no judgement please) but I simply couldn't face the prospect of having a termination of pregnancy, so I decided to keep the baby. Sadly, I was already suffering from emotional instability,but had not yet received a firm diagnoses, I thought I had a depressive illness, and had even been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder at one point. In fact I'd been quite poorly since puberty and it  had escalated after the birth of my firstborn son, but still nobody could offer me a correct evaluation.

The birth itself was a text book delivery and I was blessed with another healthy and beautiful boy who is an absolute delight. It couldn't have been easier, and although I was alone, I just fell in love immediately. I gave birth at 8.20am, was transferred to the ward, and at 2.30pm the nurse came to the bed and said I could go home. Simple as that!

But in fact, it wasn't.

I remember thinking at that very moment, that I should have more time, and as I was going home to a very lively 5 year old, wondering how I would cope! I also was concerned as my notes clearly stated that I was already under the care of the mental health team and I was already  feeling exhausted and anxious. In hindsight, I should have spoken out and asked to stay in, but already the nurse was asking to change my bed ready for the next lady. This was all despite the ward being  empty. In fact ,nobody had been to check on me at all since the birth, which I found quite strange.

To cut a long story short, I was home by 3.30, sitting on the sofa, and bewildered to say the least.

Despite the fact that I was alone, the first few weeks passed in a haze of excitement as my mood accelerated alarmingly. First came the mania, then came the psychosis and then came the endless cycle of despair and anxiety every month. A reproductive mood disorder was now firmly in place, and for those of you that have read my book 'I blame the hormones', it couldn't have been more disastrous. Years of misery followed as I fought endlessly to literally stay alive.

This is why I am personally delighted to see The Daily Mails headlines today which state that new mothers are being sent home far to soon, despite the fact that they have complications, mental health difficulties and support issues. Out of 71 nations, we have the eighth shortest time span, which means fatal illnesses can be missed. Over the last decade 30 mothers and babies have died due to this statistic, and as a direct result of being pushed to go home far too early. Horrific and incomprehensible though it is, some women even go on to commit infanticide or to die by suicide, and this in itself needs urgent review.

The last generation of mothers had a stay in hospital, were encouraged to rest, and helped with breastfeeding and recuperation. Of course now we can go home if we so wish, and as long as the mother is well and confident, then that is ok too. But we need to be sure that that new mother is choosing to go home, wanting to go home, and are not  being pushed out prematurely. The world health organisation advises that all women should be encouraged to stay in hospital overnight which would enable rest, and allow the staff to pick up on any complications both emotional and physical. As we now know that mood disorders can be long term, with a relapse at every monthly cycle, it is imperative that each women is assessed accordingly. Needless to say, after the birth of my third child, I asked to stay in and did so for 5 nights, which incidentally was the best vacation I've ever had! I didn't get much sleep but I just lay on the bed with my baby and cherished that sacred time. I bonded completely, leaned heavily on the medical staff, and avoided the plummet into hormonal chaos as a result.

Now I know what I know now, and speaking to thousands of women across the world, I'm just so aware of how vulnerable us ladies can be,particularly after any reproductive event. As both post-natal disorders and mood disorders are on the increase, its time we accepted that we are all worthy of the best care and deserve and need it.That's why I am thanking the Daily Mail for this story and the necessary exposure.

I Blame the hormones can be purchased from Amazon and downloaded onto Kindle, Smartphone, I-Pad, tablet or any PC. Please let me know what you think, I'm always so grateful to hear from you!!

Blessings as always my lovely ladies! Suzi x

Thursday, 4 February 2016

A month without alcohol.

In the U.K for the last five or so years, many people  choose to abstain from alcohol in what is now known as Dry January. Some people do it for a charity, whilst others just to challenge themselves and detox after a very wet Christmas. We also have a second 'Stoptober' later in the year which isn't so popular, but also seems to be catching on.

As drinking is a serious pastime in the UK, and one which has been mentioned of late in the news, my husband and I decided to help each other through it and have just completed  our first 'Dry January'. So how did it feel and how did we benefit?

The first thing I immediately noticed, and which became apparent almost within days, were my energy levels which increased enormously. By the end of the first week I almost felt a little euphoric,as my energy levels peaked and I found a new spring in my step. My skin also became clearer and my eyes seemed to sparkle as the tiredness left me. Feeling so energised enabled me to exercise more often, and even my breathing was easier and deeper as was my sleeping. I often awoke at night and was restless going off, but I slept soundly and awoke refreshed which is extremely rare indeed. I also rehydrated and you could see that quite clearly in my complexion, and even my hair, which looked shinier and thicker!

As the weeks passed by, I seemed to hibernate and became quite introverted. I even read three books consecutively, which was something I hadn't done for many years, well at least BC. (before children)  We watched several movies, and I was able to concentrate more effectively, rather than suffering from the usual monkey brain. My taste buds improved and I ate less which meant  I also lost several pounds in weight. The wanting or craving a chilled glass of wine, (I had one craving on a Friday in the first week, and another on a Sunday during the second) were fleeting, which again came as a  great surprise. This also made me wonder again why I bothered at all ,and what I felt I was gaining by the habit of drinking.

The governments recommendations for drinking are 14 units a week and most people I know certainly, exceed that easily. This of course leads to addiction which can fuel the fires of mood disorders, depression and anxiety. My worst episodes of mood swings were almost always after a drinking session, and anxiety is known to increase ten-fold with the dreaded hangover. As our alcohol consumption increases, the  level of nutrients in our system is compromised and our hormones and stress levels cannot cope as efficiently either. It makes you wonder indeed, why we drink at all!!!

Speaking to friends ,the majority of us drink by 'habit' and the phrase 'wine o'clock' is engrained in our culture. All too often it is a result of a stressful day, kids, a heavy workload or just the fact that we are relaxing on a Friday night at home. My own abstinence has taught me that rising on a Saturday morning can be even better when I awake with a clear head and high energy levels. It really has been a revelation and we've made a sincere pact to only drink when entertaining or going out for the evening. Even though it may not last, the intentions are good and we certainly hope to stick to it!

When I wrote 'I Blame the Hormones' it was staggering how much alcohol had been there throughout my whole life. I had relied on it endlessly, particularly during times of acute trauma and worry. I've since realised that it is not an answer to misery, but more a postponement ,as the daily angst of life will still be there in the morning. Using alcohol as a crutch to our problems only delays them, and part of being an adult is conquering our daily strife more effectively. As much as I like a drink just as much as the next person, the first glass is particularly relaxing, I can't deny how well I feel at this present time. I'm almost a bit disappointed that it has worked so well, if you get my drift! If only we could enjoy the good parts of drinking without the downsides the next day!

If you do suffer from addiction to alcohol, help is available by contacting Alcoholics Anonymous. I know several alcoholics who have conquered their addiction with AA.  However, during my period of abstinence, I also read a book called 'This Naked Mind' by Annie Grace who helped me see alcohol for what it really is and put it all into perspective.

I Blame the Hormones is available to download on Kindle, Smartphone, PC or IPad and is my own experience of the mood disorder PMDD. Please leave a review once you've read it. I'm always delighted to hear from my readers.

Blessings as always, Suzi x