As I work to complete the manuscript of my book on how drumming empowers women, the personal growth I’ve had over the last few years comes into very sharp focus. I want to reflect on my mental health journey, in the hope that it may help others, who are where I was not that long ago, and give them both tools and hope.

In this deeply personal account, I share my journey through the turbulent waters of midlife, facing challenges that tested me beyond belief, then led to profound personal growth. From navigating perimenopause and family crises to discovering my own neurodiversity, my story is one of transformation, healing, and finding inner peace.

The perimenopause awakening

There has been a deep unlayering, caused by a numerous amount of crises in my life, with my youngest child undergoing a mental health crisis which went on for several years. In the middle of it there was also 2020, the covid crisis and its impact on my solo business which used to rely on in person workshops as a main source of income. Along the way my children and myself got diagnosed as neurodivergent.

This is not a coincidence, but these difficult times happened whilst I was undergoing the perimenopause. So I had to juggle not only my own crisis but one of my children at the same time, so there was no time for me to be and breathe and create space for myself to process what I was going through. As it also happened, my youngest was going through the beginning of her puberty when the crisis started. Brene Brown has a beautiful quote about the midlife unravelling:

Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling. By definition, you can’t control or manage an unraveling. You can’t cure the midlife unraveling with control any more than the acquisitions, accomplishments, and alpha-parenting of our thirties cured our deep longing for permission to slow down and be imperfect. Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing—these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt—has to go. Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts.

If you’d like to understand the details of the backstory, I have written about this in more detail in my Riding the phoenix: Navigating Perimenopause, ADHD, and Emotional Rollercoasters blog post.

When I look back, the unlayering started way before this, because I started experiencing symptoms of the menopause when I turned 42, and I’m 54 as I write this. The signs that something needed to change was intense discomfort. Besides the changes in my cycle, the night waking and night sweats, and the irritability, I noticed that I was no longer willing to put up with certain dynamics in my family (namely, my being in charge of everything). The lowering of oestrogen levels that accompanies the perimenopause makes us less willing to put up with shit. Think about the state you’re in during your period, but all the time. It’s not easy for our close ones, but it’s a good thing, because it’s an agent for change.

In my work I became overworked and overwhelmed, putting intense pressure on myself to be “productive” all of the time. What I did not realise at the time was that the pressure came from within, and that I could not carry on with my unconscious belief that I could only give myself permission to relax if I had done all the tasks on my to-do list, because that time simply never came. Something had to change. In 2018 I worked with a coach who challenged me to spend one hour a week doing something fun just for myself, as priority. This led to my walks in the local nature reserve, and then to my discovering a beautiful swimming club in the river nearby and becoming a year round wild swimmer. I also took a course called Tame your to-do list (add link), and then learnt to prioritise my wellbeing tasks in my diary, something I’m still doing 4 years later.

The 2020 pandemic crisis turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because the first lockdown things slowed down enough for me to realise that I needed a slower pace of life (something that women often experience as they approach the menopause, some holistic menopause specialists such as Alexandra Pope, in er book Wild Power, even suggest taking a menopause sabbatical. Not being able to teach in person meant that I started offering my teachings as online courses (6 courses and counting), and this created space for me to create more stuff, and most importantly, to keep my business afloat through the lockdowns, and later on, giving me the time to support my daughter when she needed me.

Weathering the family storm

When my daughter started struggling with anxiety so severe she could no longer leave the house (she ended up being out of school for 2 years). The combination of covid lockdowns, moving to secondary school and starting puberty as an autistic young girl was just too much (she got diagnosed in 2022). Her emotional distress was very difficult for me to witness, and I kind of knew that the best thing I could do was to learn to stay regulated in the face of her pain, so I could hold the space for her and help her co-regulated. I worked first with Inger Madsden,  an EFT coach who specialises in supporting troubled teens. As the crisis evolved and I realised that I needed a new coach (something I have come to learn is normal for me: my ADHD brain processes things so very quickly that I outgrow teachers very quickly and need new ones), Inger suggested Kanan Tekchandani aka The Aspie Coach. Kanan not only supported me through my family’s crisis, but was the first person to help me realise that I’m both neurodivergent and gifted, as well as hypersensitive. 

In 2022 when my mental health was as an all time low, due to my youngest mental health crisis, my own overwhelm, and the lack of support from the system, I tried antidepressants, hated it, and started microdosing psilocybin, something I carried on doing for a couple of years. It had a very positive impact on my mental health, because it helped me become aware of very unhelpful thought patterns I was not aware I had, and start healing them.

After an epic battle with the local mental health system and education authority, I got my daughter into a tiny specialist school which helps kids like her rebuild their skills and confidence.  She is striving there. She went from not being able to leave the house in 2 years to attending a residential school trip within 3 months. Over a year on, I have gotten my child back, watching her blossom into a healthy and happy teen.

When my daughter got into this school and things finally looked promising, I naively thought I could finally breathe myself. Instead my physical and mental health completely crashed, which I can see now isn’t surprising at all. The day she started at that school instead of feeling elated, I felt battle torn and weary, like I had finally put my sword and armour down after 2 long years. I had crippling anxiety that kept me awake at night and I was so physically exhausted all I could do was walk the dog. My nervous system, having been in fight and flight mode for so long, collapsed and went into freeze mode. In search of relief, and after researching it and discussing it with holistic menopause specialists, and against everything I normally believe in (I’m a proponent of natural medicine), I started HRT when I turned 53, in order to help re-regulate my nervous system. It helped with sleep and anxiety almost instantly, and over the course of the next 6 months, gave me enough breathing space to start working at re-regulating my nervous system. 

Discovering neurodiversity

In 2023, at the age of 53, I got diagnosed with ADHD. For me, this, and during the months before said diagnosis (I knew I was ADHD 18 months prior to diagnosis) has been empowering, and only empowering, because, the more I learnt about it, the kinder I became to myself, instead of relentlessly beating myself up about stuff I found hard to do. Having ADHD means being able to achieve incredible things when motivated, but also finding things I perceive as tedious almost impossible to do, leading to a lot of procrastination and negative thinking about it. I also learnt about Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, something I have had all my life, and I wasn’t aware of until reading about ADHD.  It was thanks to my diagnosis and Kanan’s support that I was able to apply for an access to work grant, and my friend Saheera recommended an agency called This is me to support my application, which earned me a 35K grant to support me in my business.

Healing through alternative therapies

In 2024, after having wasted weeks with an NHS talking therapist, who, whilst she was kind and supportive, gave me absolutely zero relief or progress. I discovered a therapist, Emrys Blue Person, who is both a psychotherapist of 47 years but also a trained shaman. I loved that Emrys works in long, 2h sessions, instead of the prescribed talking therapy session of 50 minutes, where I barely got going. I got what I was looking for working with him, which was getting to the root of my problem very quickly. Emrys pointed out, like my previous coach Kanan, that I am indeed incredibly sensitive, and helped me realise that I was holding onto anger, and how to safely release it. Mostly importantly he helped me reframe the story I had been telling myself was that I had a happy childhood (I wasn’t abused, or neglected etc), into realising that, for someone as sensitive as me, being raised by parents who did not understand this was very traumatic and caused me to pretend to be someone I wasn’t in order to be loved. This has not been comfortable but it has been deeply healing. Recently, reading The Myth of Normal by Gabor Mate, I understood another layer of this. “The lack of emotional closeness in childhood is, in itself, traumatic. Children require emotional intimacy and attunement for their brains to develop properly.” Mate explains.  He goes on to explain “The infant needs the freedom to be able to experience their emotions and have them understood and validated by adults. “ How many of us who are adults today have experienced this during infancy? Having our emotions truly accepted and validated, without judgement, especially the ones perceived as negative, like anger, frustration and sadness? It’s no wonder so many of us aren’t even aware of the deep trauma we carry.

Since January 2024, I have finally started to develop something that has felt elusive most of my life: a sense of peace in my heart, which has been growing since. A sense of trust, of leaning into the universe’s great plan. A sense of deep gratitude. A sense of spaciousness inside. A sense of expansive love. Don’t get me wrong, I do fall back into my own patterns a lot of the time. After all you cannot rewire 54 years of wiring in a few months, but there is progress. It is slow, but it is there.

Redefining my career and purpose

In the midst of this crisis, it also became clear that I had to stop working as a doula. I stopped 2 years ago and you can read about why I did this here. What followed, as well as carrying on working to support my child, was a period of fertile void, which, whilst I was trying hard to trust the unfolding, felt wholly uncomfortable at times. It took over 18 months before something else started to show itself, namely the increasing space drumming started to take in my life. I offered a course on drumming for birth, wrote an article about it for a scientific journal, and started writing a book about the drum’s power in empowering women through life’s challenges, which will likely be called The beat of your own drum. As I write this I am completing the manuscript, to be published in 2025. A few months ago I started drumming daily and within a couple of weeks I noticed a similar effect to the one I’d seen when I started microdosing. I wrote about the similarities and differences between drumming and psychedelics in this blog post.

So it’s perhaps not a surprise that the focus of my work is changing, from being a perinatal educator, doula and mentor, to wanting to support women through life transitions and embodying their power. There is a big theme in my journey about overcoming overwhelm, regulating my nervous system and learning self kindness. 

I want to help others along their way too. I already ran a workshop about overcoming impostor syndrome earlier this year, and I have also ran several coaching calls about managing life transitions. Watch out for new deep dive offerings in this area in the autumn. I’m otherwise engaged, but I’m already offering mentoring sessions for women going through deep transitions, and feel free to contact me if you’d like to try a session (no strings attached).


As I reflect on this journey, I’m struck by how each challenge, though difficult, led to greater self-understanding and personal growth. Through it, I’ve discovered the power of self-compassion, the importance of nervous system regulation, and the healing potential of drumming. My hope is that by sharing my story, others facing similar struggles might find inspiration and tools for their own journey of self-discovery and healing.


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