WHEN a Runcorn mum battled her way through the most severe form of postnatal depression, little did she know that one day she would be spreading the word to expectant mums in Australia!

Elaine Hanzak, aged 45, was struck down with the most extreme postnatal illness, puerperal psychosis, in 1996 following the birth of her son, Dominic.

The condition left her feeling incredibly down and, Elaine claims, was not picked up immediately, despite her suffering from several symptoms.

She said: “Following the birth of Dominic, my world fell apart as my mind unravelled. For a while I thought I would never recover.”

But after spending weeks in hospital undergoing various treatments, Elaine slowly pulled through and made a complete recovery.

And now she has just returned from telling her story at conferences in Sydney and Melbourne – including the prestigious Marce Society conference, where postnatal depression experts meet every two years to unveil their latest research.

At the conferences, she promoted her book, entitled Eyes Without Sparkle, which she released in 2005, and spoke about her tireless campaign for better mental health facilities for new mums.

Elaine added: “According to NICE guidelines published last year we are at least 25 mother and baby specialist beds short in the north west – and that doesn’t include the huge shortfall in support and facilities at Primary Care level. Although progress is slowly being made, treatment remains a bit of a postcode lottery.”

To find out more about Elaine's story, go online at hanzak.com.