“My face wears a smile but my heart’s full of tears”
That’s a line I wrote for the song for an amazing group of women who attend a PANDAS Postnatal Depression Support Group. I visited them in July 2019 to run a songwriting workshop for them and was overwhelmed by their openness and kindness. They treated me as one of their own and made me feel surer than ever that being diagnosed with postnatal depression was not the end of the story, which was a massive comfort to me…
You see, I was also diagnosed with postnatal depression in December 2018 a year and a half after having our first child. I had given birth to our daughter in April 2017 and had silently suffered postnatal depression and psychosis but was too ashamed to tell anyone due to the stigma surrounding it. I painted on a smile and pretended to all the world that everything was fine, even shooting a television show for Sky One, recording an album and making a music video during this time but it felt like a shadow had been cast over my heart and nothing would lift it.
It was only after giving birth to our son in October 2018 and began to feel the same darkness and desperation that I finally reached out for help. With counselling, medication and the boundless love and support from my family and friends I now feel back to my old self again, most days.
I began to research postnatal depression while up at 3 am feeding the baby and realised not only how common it is but that there is so much support out there for those suffering.
I felt inspired to do something to help others so had the idea to set up Lyrical Light, a songwriting workshop for people with pre and postnatal depression. Since then I’ve been honoured to win Freelancer of the Year so have used some of the generous prize money to set up the business. I’ve been working with charities including PANDAS Foundation and Mother For Mothers, and companies such as PND And Me, Mothering Mental Health And Me, The Guilty Mothers Club, Mental Health Mates, The Postnatal Project and hospitals including Southmead and NHS Mother and Baby Units.
Admitting I was struggling with postnatal depression has changed my life. I’m more open and willing to talk about the difficult times I’ve had. I still have some bad days but they are far fewer and I know they will pass. But best of all my admission has also drawn me into a loving and accepting community of amazing mums who also struggle with pre and postnatal depression. So many of these incredible women have told me that the very fact of knowing we are not alone has made it easier to get through the dark days.
As I add the finishing touches to the song for the mums at the PANDAS Postnatal Depression Support Group I write these lines that I now truly believe:
“The darkness and despair seems to fade when you are there,
For together we’re a light to illuminate the night.”
For support: www.Pandasfoundation.org