I was a geek from an early age. When I was 7 years old my school had to order new books for me to read because I’d read all the ones in the library. And when kids got hurt in the playground, I used to take them inside to get a plaster (band-aid). When I look back, it’s clear that books and caring for people was the path for me.
As a teenager, I was really unsure whether to pursue a career in the arts or science - if only I’d known back then that acupuncture is a perfect marriage of the two. I also battled with depression and a tendency to self-harm and this has really influenced my belief in the need to support teens during puberty.
Whilst aged 16-18 and studying at college, my mum was training in massage, aromatherapy, and reflexology. Helping her to study for her exams meant that I absorbed what she was learning, whilst I studied biology, sociology, and religious studies.
It was around this time that I found Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup on her bookshelf and poured over it, fascinated by what was going on inside me and intrigued at the ‘other’ forms of medicine that she described.
When I was 17, I earned money by working in a home for the elderly as a health care assistant, I also volunteered in an HIV daycare centre and sat on a board that was tasked with improving the sexual health of teenagers and young people.
My first attempt at getting a degree was one in nursing at King’s College, but after the rigorous training I’d already received in confidentiality and maintaining patients’ dignity from my HIV work, I quickly realised that the NHS was not for me.
So I dropped out and got a job as a healthcare assistant in a residential psychiatric unit for teenagers.
Then I buggered off to Denmark for a year (yes, there was a Danish boyfriend on the scene) and worked as a childminder.
I tried another degree in the Art and Architecture of Africa and Asia, but a few weeks before I was due to start, I was on holiday in NY and I woke up to the sound of screams - a plane had hit the World Trade Centre, and as my then-boyfriend (not the Dane), his sister and I stood on their balcony, five blocks away from what was going on, we tried to figure out if his mum was above or below where the plane had struck, and as we were counting the floors, we watched the second one hit the other tower. Thankfully, she was below and she did get out, but what the neighbourhood went through was horrific and it took me a while to process so I dropped out after a couple of months and returned to New York.
The New York Years consisted of me traveling back and forth a bit, alternating working in a parrot shop(!) in NY with a rock bar in London, studying Fine Art at the Fashion Institute of Technology, working in tattoo studios, getting married at the age of 22(!!!!!), working for a music merchandise company, drinking too much whiskey, and leaving my husband (I know, who could’ve predicted that!)
I found Taking Charge of Your Fertility in a bookstore in Brooklyn and became obsessed with tracking my cycle and started using fertility awareness as a form of contraception. I was also really pissed off that nobody had told me this sooner because being on the pill did not agree with my libido or mental health.
On a trip back to London, the owners of the Crobar asked if I’d come back to work there as bar manager and I jumped at the chance to move back.
I had a lot of fun working there. I met a lot of my favourite musicians and even taught Dave Grohl how to play rugby, but bar work wasn’t for me long-term.
At the time, I was relying on vast amounts of painkillers to manage debilitating period pain and I started using whatever spare money I could rustle up to try out different therapies.
It turned out that I loved them, so I started studying part-time and trained in massage, aromatherapy, and reflexology - yep, the same as my mum.
I trained as a doula and started going to births at the age of 25 and was immediately hooked. I went on to work as a doula for ten years and helped hundreds of families during this time.
I eventually left the bar and became self-employed. Gulp.
There were many years of working hard and not earning much. I was fed up and exhausted, and I wanted to undergo more extensive training that meant I could treat in the most effective way possible without knackering myself out in the process.
My period pain hadn’t improved that much but I’d heard that acupuncture could help and gave it a go and I was immediately hooked, so I jumped in and applied to study it.
Four years of full-time study later, which included a semester in China, I finally got a degree and qualified as an acupuncturist. My work as a therapist had always centred on women’s health but acupuncture allowed me to work in a more dynamic, focussed way.
I continued to geek out on women’s health by apprenticing with Red School (it was Alexandra who taught me about the seasons of the cycle), Nicole Jardim, the Institute of Integrative Women’s Health, and I also trained in the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy (ATMAT).
After an abnormal pregnancy (partial molar) and miscarriage, I went on to have a healthy pregnancy and joyous home birth.
Whilst on maternity leave, all my training and experience started to slot together in a really beautiful way. I just had no time or energy to do anything about it.
But I knew I had to write a book because on the many, many nights that I was up breastfeeding and settling my son, that’s all I could think about.
And all of a sudden, a publisher got in touch to ask if I’d write a book for them.
A few months later, I scored an incredible agent, then scrambled to get a book proposal together over the Christmas holidays, before meeting with a load of interested publishers in February and accepting an offer with Bloomsbury in March.
I frantically wrote Period Power in four months. The 136k words flew out of me (we cut a 10k chapter out of the book) because I knew that you needed it and that it had to be in the world.
It came out this year and instantly became a bestseller, reaching the top 50 of all books on Amazon. There isn’t a day that goes by without me tearing up at the messages I receive from people telling me how it’s changed their lives and transformed their experience of their cycle.
So, what’s next?
I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself this.
What’s become clear is that there is a real need for a place to continue what Period Power has started, which is why, behind the scenes, I’m creating a low-cost membership so that you can take harnessing your hormones to a whole other level.
I haven’t announced this on social media yet, but you can get on the waitlist by clicking here.