WPGM Commentary: Rachel Mason On Her Struggles With Postnatal Depression

My name is Rachel Mason, I’m a multi-award-winning British musician and mother of two and I struggled with postnatal depression after the births of both of my children.

I have written my new song “Illuminate The Night” to express how it feels to struggle with the condition and I have released it to raise money for the maternal mental health charity PANDAS that helped me.

Postnatal depression is the most common perinatal mental health disorder women experience in the first year after having a baby. One in ten women have depression and anxiety in pregnancy and after birth. Men can also experience postnatal depression.

The symptoms of postnatal depression are similar to the symptoms of depression. New mums may experience low mood, loss of interest, fatigue or low energy. Additionally, they may experience other symptoms such as: self-critical thinking and increased worrying; reduced concentration and attention; reduced self-esteem and self-confidence; disturbed sleep and changes in appetite.

Some new mums may feel they are detached from their babies and cannot bond. Furthermore, some new mums experience repetitive thoughts about harming themselves and/or their babies, so here’s my story…

My face wears a smile but my heart’s full of tears

I struggled with my mental health after the births of both my children but felt so afraid and ashamed I didn’t want to ask for help. During this time, I felt like I was living a double life, filming a National Television Award nominated show for Sky One, making BBC Radio appearances, recording and touring an album but in private, I was a mess of anxiety, sadness and the desire to end my life.

Eventually when things reached a really low point, I told my husband how I’d been feeling and got some medical help which made a great difference. I realised that I had been dishonest in keeping my postnatal depression hidden as people often commented on how I seemed to handle motherhood and career so easily, so I decided to publicly admit my mental health struggles.

The response from family, friends, fans and complete strangers was overwhelming with many people asking for advice on how to get through their own postnatal depression.

Writing songs really helped me during my darkest days so I began to help other parents write songs about their experiences with their mental health. From the many requests I received everyday, I could see the need across the country for this kind of help so I set up my project Lyrical Light as a response.

I now run Lyrical Light songwriting workshops for charities, companies and individuals who have struggled with postnatal depression, encouraging them to share their feelings and experiences in a safe, non-judgemental environment and writing a song based on the things they talk about.

It’s been medically proven that musical activities dramatically speed up the recovery rates of people diagnosed with postnatal depression and Lyrical Light has been hailed by medical professionals across the country as “a unique and vital mental health service” and “instrumental in the recovery of all who take part in a workshop”.

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.

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.

The final lines of “Illuminate The Night” are “The dark and despair seems to fade when you are there / For we are a light to illuminate the night“. These lines are things I truly believe and hold on to tightly when I’m having a bad day.

Listen to “Illuminate The Night” below:

Words by Rachel Mason // Follow her on Twitter + Instagram

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