Following the menstrual cycle - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Following the menstrual cycle

Jenskygazer
JenskygazerVolunteer

Hello, I've been wanting to write just to let you know about something that I've found really helpful over the past year related to hormones and periods. It's an organisation called Red School and they have a book called 'Wild Power' by Alexandra Pope and Sjani Hugo Wurlitzer. It's not for everyone probably, my friend Amanda who is a homeopath told me about the book when I was explaining to her about period difficulties (she hadn't read it at the time, just heard of it). We both read it. I absolutely loved the book, she found it really annoying! But I wanted to write about it on here as I've had difficulties with very painful periods pretty much ever since they started when I was 12, when I was 14 my GP put me on the pill to try to help the period pain and I think after that I've always had difficulty with hormones. I don't know what impact they've had on my mental health, but I do think there's a link (I had mental health experiences before having my daughter Josie and having PPP, I'd had about 4 psychotic episodes over 10 years before. I'm now diagnosed with mild schizophrenia which I found very helpful as it explained a lot.). I went to an acupuncturist last year for help with my period pain as I was finding that every month my menstrual cycle would mean I was less able to cope and feel balanced, I'd feel ill all over again. For the past year I've been reading the book Wild Power and have followed the approach they outline and I have found it has really really helped to sooth my period pain and also start to actually find meaning and possibility in my menstrual cycle. Red School have a number of courses and one 'Hormone Harmony' is free. They also have information on the menopause (though the courses on this a paid for). As I say, I don't think it will be for everyone (based upon my friend Amanda's reaction!) but I really wanted to post about it on the forum as I've found it really is helping me in a way that other approaches haven't, and it's simple, it's about noting down each day of your cycle and how you feel so that you can start to see patterns, and about getting rest (they know most of us can never find rest! But recommend a 1% rule - try to give yourself 1% of what you need every day. I've found it to be effective). It's not a book based on PPP at all. But I've found it's really helping me and to be able to follow what's going on with my body.

Sorry for such a long post! But really wanted to share it. Also related to books but in a very different way, there's a book by Margery Kempe who lived in the medieval period, It's her diary: 'The book of Margery Kempe' she was a really remarkable woman and in the first section she describes giving birth to her child and her experience afterwards, and it's a really vivid description of PPP. It just seems such a link to such a long ago time. I really wanted to write here about it, wondering if others have seen it, I've yet to read all the book! It's very dense, but I'm going to read it all, she was an incredible woman!

Very best wishes, Jen

3 Replies
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Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Jen

Thanks for sharing .... I'm sorry to hear you had four episodes of psychosis even before PP when your daughter was born. That must have been very frightening for you and I think you're amazing to have come back from such challenges. I had psychosis twice after my sons were born and it was so hard to find my feet and carry on.

I think the organisation and the book you mention will be interesting to mums here. I'm glad it has helped you so much. Years ago I also had painful, heavy periods and after investigation it was found that I had fibroids, which were removed during a hysterectomy.

Years ago I did look into the history archives and found reference to Harriet Mordaunt (7 February 1849 - 9 May 1906) who was the Scottish wife of an English Baronet. She had a daughter, prematurely, Violet Caroline, in 1869. Harriet was the respondent in a sensational divorce case in which the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) was embroiled and, after a counter petition led to a finding of mental disorder, "pueperal mania". Poor Harriet spent the remaining 36 years of her life in a mental asylum.

My research into women in history then took me to Wendy Wallace's homepage - Captured on Camera. The Bethlem Royal Hospital (Europe's oldest psychiatric hospital) Archive contains a unique collection of original prints, some of the earliest photographs ever taken of asylum patients.

Emma Riches was one such patient who went into the hospital three or four times following another child being born, each time in the 1850's. In those days Drs did not use the term post natal depression but certainly recognised the phenomenum. It was then called pueperal insanity or peuperal mania. I wonder though if it was PP as according to records when Emma Riches was admitted she was in such a state that she tore her clothes - not tore them off but ripped them to shreds?

Wendy Wallace has written a book entitled "The Painted Bridge" about life for Victorian women in asylums in 1850's England. I haven't read it yet but for those of us years ago who were sectioned and sent to such asylums (the ones I went to were built in 1874 and 1879) it might be interesting to read, albeit fictional. I like to think we have walked in the footsteps of incredible women with mental disorders throughout history ..... we are all amazing!!

Jenskygazer
JenskygazerVolunteer
in reply to Lilybeth

Thank you so very much for writing about the research you’ve done Lilybeth, it’s fascinating. I will look at the Bethlem archives and at the women you mention and ‘The Painted Bridge’. I feel like these women throughout history are like a thread running back and linking us all. Thank you so much for sharing it xxx

Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer
in reply to Jenskygazer

Hi Jenskygazer

I'm glad you found the info interesting. It is really fascinating to read about women throughout history.

Another strong woman was Princess Alice, the Queen's mother-in-law. There was a documentary made about her life a few years ago She had three daughters before Prince Phillip and after a while began telling people that she was in touch with Christ. Sadly, her mother took her away from the Prince (when he was 9 years old) under cover of darkness to a Sanatorium abroad for wealthy people. She was locked away for over two years, and was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Eventually she was able to discharge herself (she had missed the weddings of her daughters because she was locked away) and did not go home but 'disappeared' and lived in a hostel in Greece, not venturing out. She did set up a hospital and orphanage and was very helpful to a Jewish family during the war. Princess Alice founded her own religious order in later life (the Sisterhood of Martha and Mary) and the most poignant recording to watch was at the Queen's Coronation in 1953 where she appeared as a solitary figure following them down the aisle dressed in a nun's habit.

I hope you are finding your way through 'The book of Margery Kempe' and coping with isolation. Take care. xxx

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