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I had to share this with you loves. I've been watching the unfolding of the tragic story of the disappearance of Nicola Bulley here in the north of England where I live. In case you're not aware of it, this beautiful young woman, 45 years old, mother of two little girls, went missing after dropping her girls at school and while walking her dog on a popular rural route along the river, over three weeks ago now. Her phone was found on a bench, still connected to a work call. Her dog Willow's harness was found a few feet away on the ground and Willow was found wandering around confused in the same area. Her disappearance is unfathomable and bewildering, not to mention utterly heartbreaking for her partner, family, friends and her beautiful girls. Now, I am most certainly not about to speculate about, or comment on, Nicola's disappearance. While I've been following the news though, I have noticed something that shocks me to the core and has got me all hot under the collar and picking up my placard!

In the last few days, police, presumably with permission from Nicola's family, have released information about Nicola's mental health, struggles with menopause and alcohol dependency. I don't have problem with the reporting of these things per se, but the way the information is being communicated, and the way the media is reporting it, saddens me. Whether it's conscious or deliberate or not, the reporting seems to intimate that Nicola's disappearance is her own fault, all down to her struggles and challenges. It's horrendous and disgraceful. The search for Nicola continues and she needs to be kept in the public consciousness, in the hope that she can be returned home to those who love her and can care for her. Suggesting or intimating that her challenges define her and that, somehow, they are the reason for her disappearance and worse, that those challenges are self inflicted, fills me with horror and sadness. As a 56 year old woman who has had, and is still having, extreme challenges with menopause and who grew up with a mother with severe mental health challenges and a Dad with alcohol dependency issues, I feel I can talk to this from a place of first hand experience.

Let's start with menopause. My best friend and I have a passion project Podcast dedicated to the subject, and though menopause symptoms and experiences differ for every woman and are entirely personal, one common thread that appears over and over again in our community, is lack of knowledge, training and support and misdiagnosis. Often, when women begin menopause, they have absolutely no idea what's happening to them. Trust me, it can be terrifying and isolating and statistics show that mental health issues caused by menopause (and more particularly, in my opinion, by lack of support and guidance) are vastly misunderstood, ignored and under reported. I grew up without female influence and so knew next to nothing about menopause. When it arrived, or rather descended like a black cloud, I was confused and scared. Menopause is not a word or a subject to be banded around carelessly or used as an 'out clause' or a joke, in the 'over the fence' fashion of 1970's tv comedy. It is something that affects EVERY WOMAN ON THE PLANET. It should be better understood and far better actioned! My parents' mental health challenges affected me deeply and I still carry the hidden scars of the resulting trauma. What I've come to understand better since though, is that their challenges and conditions didn't define them. There were good people in bad situations, ill equipped to cope. I've been reflecting on all the times in my own life when I've allowed myself to believe that things were my own fault, of my own doing. I remember how life limiting that can be. I remember all too well, how damn hard it can be to come back from that. Most of all, I remember that those beliefs were given to me by others, created by others and I see the same process unfolding here, not just in the handling and reporting of Nicola's story, but in so many areas of the reality we currently live in. Perceptions are powerful, and we're all responsible for and susceptible to them. My beautiful late Dad used to say that we should always be our own filters and that our minds are likes plasticine, and so we should be conscious of what we allow them to shape and create. We are all capable of free and independent thinking and believing and should question everything. Absolutely everything! I talk about having a ‘holding bay’, where we take in information and communication, hold it, consider it, and match it to our own beliefs, values and consciousness before deciding what to keep and what to send back. The fantastic thing about having free minds is that it comes with the greatest gift of all, choice. Of course we're all given and create beliefs, values and perceptions, but we get to choose - what we keep, what we release and what we create. If what you have and hold on to no longer serves you, no longer fits, decide what stays, what goes and get busy creating some new stuff. Society would have us believe that's not possible because free thinkers aren't easy to control. It is possible…and necessary!

I hope and pray with all my heart, that Nicola finds her way home. I just hope that if she's out there somewhere and wants to make her way home, she doesn't, for a single second, believe that any of this is her ‘own fault’. I hope she sees everything for what it is and that she keeps herself, her love for her family and their love for her, firmly in her focus, leaving everything else in the holding bay for others to sort through. And when she does return home, I hope she gets the love and support from outside her close circle, that may not have been there for her when she needed it.

If you relate to any of this my love, please know that..."It's not your fault. Things can change. You can choose." I'm living proof of that. Don't try to got it alone. Don't isolate yourself. Connection is the single most powerful thing we can all do to get on the path to change. With so much love, Michele xx

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