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How song writing helped to save me from PND

Rachel Mason in the studio

by Rachel walker Mason

Rachel tells us her story of how using creativity helped her to overcome her own maternal mental health issues.

Trigger warning: this piece contains details of Rachel’s maternal mental health journey. Please take care when reading it. If you need support, please refer to our Urgent Warning. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

I’m a mother of two, a multi-award-winning musician and a survivor of postnatal depression (PND). I struggled with my own mental health after the birth of both my children, but felt so afraid and ashamed that I didn’t want to ask for help. During this time I felt like I was living a double life – filming a television show, making 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 decided to publicly admit my mental health journey, as I didn’t want to keep it hidden anymore. The response from family, friends, fans and complete strangers was overwhelming with many people asking me for advice on how to get through their own PND. Writing songs really helped me during my darkest days so I began to help others write songs about their mental health experiences, which was the start of my company Lyrical Light.

I now run Lyrical Light song writing workshops for charities, companies and individuals who have struggled with maternal mental health issues, encouraging them to share their feelings and experiences in a safe, non-judgmental environment and writing a song based on things they talk about. Lyrical Light has been hailed by medical professionals as “a unique and vital mental health service” and “instrumental in the recovery of all who take part in a workshop.” The Royal College of Music is also conducting research into how music can benefit new mothers’ mental health.

I still have occasional bad days but I’m so proud of working with such amazing men and women through my Lyrical Light courses. I’ve walked the same path as them and can see how we’re all coming out of the shadows into the light. I wrote the song below with women who were part of PANDAS (the amazing charity that gives support to people coping with Pre and Postnatal Mental Illnesses, as well as their families, friends and carers.)


Illuminate The Night

by Rachel walker Mason

My face wears a smile but my heart’s full of tears
In the moments I’m left in the dark,
Over the months through all these cares
I see that life’s faded my spark.
The colours are muted, their vibrancy gone
As I spiral down once again,
But I know that night will give way to the dawn
When you walk with me through the rain.
My hand in your hand
Your words in my heart
Shoulder to shoulder
United we’ll start.
The dark and despair 
seems to fade when you’re there
For together we’re a light 
To illuminate the night.
Some days I’m happy, some days I’m numb
Some days a ghost drifting through,
But all my bad days don’t make me a ‘bad mum’
I’m stronger than I ever knew.
So try to live lightly, be kind to your mind
Be proud of who you have become,
The woman you are has been redefined
A brave mother who has overcome.
My hand in your hand
Your words in my heart
Shoulder to shoulder
United we’ll start.
The dark and despair 
seems to fade when you’re there
For together we’re a light 
To illuminate the night.

© Rachel Walker Mason 2019
(written with Yate PANDAS)

This piece was reviewed by Annie Belasco AND EDITED BY ANNA CEESAY.

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Urgent Warning

Some of the material you read on this website is potentially upsetting. Or you may read an article that makes you realise that you are struggling more than you thought.

If you need further support, please speak to your GP or another healthcare professional within or outside of the NHS. If you are seeking help outside of the NHS, make sure you see someone registered with an appropriate professional body.  There is also lots of information available online via MIND or the NHS website.

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Please note: some of this content was written in 2019. Please follow current coronavirus government guidance at all times.

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