The Darkness Behind The Stage Lights
Hello, I’m Rachel.
I’m the founder and creative director for Lyrical Light and am a multi-award-winning professional musician.
For my first blog I wanted to tell you a bit about my experience with postnatal depression and my journey to getting help.
My first few days as a first time mum were a blur. I remember feeling intense love for my little baby girl but such overwhelming fear and unhappiness too. I didn’t know if this was normal and felt too afraid to ask in case the answer was “no.”
I hoped it was just the much talked about “baby blues” and that it would pass in a couple of days. But as time went on I realised it was something more, something darker, something that was bigger than me and at times felt bigger than the immense love I had for my daughter.
A midnight internet search on PANDAS website with tears in my eyes confirmed my fears. It was postnatal depression. I had suffered from depression years before and had been gently warned by the midwife during my pregnancy that I was statistically more likely to have postnatal depression if I’d had depression before.
I vividly remember looking in the mirror and saying to myself “I will not let myself have postnatal depression.”
Now I look back at that thought I feel so foolish. No amount of my usual unswerving determination could control what was happening to me.
For the next few months the waves of emotion came and went without warning and I refused to talk to anyone about it in case they confirmed my worst fears that I was crazy and decided that my little girl should be taken away from me.
During this time I was asked to be an expert judge for the brand new Sky One show Sing: Ultimate A Cappella. It was going to be hosted by Cat Deeley and would feature a cappella groups from across the uk and Ireland competing to win the approval of the judges.
I loved filming the show, working with the other judges, meeting pop stars and hearing some fantastic a cappella performances but behind the dazzling stage lights, make up and tv glamour I felt like I was drowning. My job was to paint on a smile and make sure the producers didn’t regret their decision choosing me for the judging panel. Confronting the darkness inside me would have to wait. And wait it did.
It’s only really when the show aired three months later and friends commented on how I seemed to “have it all together”, taking my career and motherhood in my stride that I felt like a huge fraud. I didn’t have it all together at all and the fragile shell I had made around myself started to crack. I started secretly self harming to try and control what I could not control, but it soon became clear that this wasn’t going to be enough.
Finally I reached breaking point and reached out to my health visitor for help. She advised Talk Therapy which helped a lot. I also told my husband, immediate family and close friends how I had been feeling for the last few months. They all said they were so relieved I had spoken to them. They said they knew something was wrong but didn’t know how to talk to me about it as I was so shut down.
A few months after weekly Talk Therapy I was feeling much more like myself again. My husband and I decided we’d like to have another baby and talked a lot about how I’d struggled with postnatal depression after our first baby. It was the first time I’d really shared with him how bad it had been and he was overwhelmingly loving and supportive.
I had a touch of prenatal depression with our second child but the postnatal depression kicked in hard the day after I gave birth. However, I was determined for things to be different this time and asked for help, visiting my doctor and being prescribed antidepressants.
This decision changed everything. I still had to work to try and shake off the stigma of “mental health issues” but allowing myself to be honest about my feelings and accept support, both emotional and medical has meant I’ve had an easier journey with my second child.
If you’re struggling with symptoms of pre or postnatal depression I urge you to speak to someone. Don’t leave it as long as I did.
Love Rachel x