It’s been a “Record Year” – Country Music therapy for Maternal Mental Illness

Indulge me with this post, would you? I think you must have picked up by now that I am a MAJOR Country Music fan. And yet, even that was lost somewhere in the darkness and depths of Postnatal Depression –

“I could find no fun or pleasure in anything, in the way I had before. For example, you might have worked out, from previous blogs, that I love American Country Music! Oh I do! But I had ‘forgotten’ that – I had lost all interest in it. The new season of Nashville was on TV and instead of having it set to record and watching it weekly to get my ‘fix’, I would flick past it without a second glance…” Read more

But it’s actually thanks to Country Music that this blog was born! I’d been reading lots of other mums blogs online and I had finally come to the conclusion that there was actually a name for the hell I’d been in for 2 years. Even better than that, there seemed to be some hope that I could come out the other end of it. It took a few more weeks for me to be officially diagnosed, by a GP, but the end (or beginning) was in sight.

As I lay on a sun lounger, last August in Italy, the tears dripping from my chin, but with so desire to try to hide them anymore, Country Music songs and lyrics helped me to connect with myself again. They spoke for me. They seemed to be saying what I couldn’t. Believe it or not they helped me understand what I was feeling, where I had been and why my head and heart were hurting so badly.

cropped-logo-haveyouseenthatgirl.pngHave you seen that girl? was born, only in spirit (I had no idea it would be anything like this). I played the following songs over and over again on my iPod – each time they helped to release so much of what was trapped inside of me. I wrote notes about them on the back on a novel I was holding (only for show, the tears were too blinding to actually read anything) as to why they were speaking to me and how I was feeling listening to them – in case you haven’t worked it out by now, I process by writing!

This year Eric Church, released his song “Record Year” which talks about getting over a broken relationship by listening and re-listening to ‘old’, familiar, favourite songs which speak of, and to, his pain. I loved that song the moment I heard it, I could relate 100% it. It mirrored how came to be, but even more to the power of music (country in my case) in therapy and recovery.

I guess that’s not new information – music can be very powerful in our lives.

How many of us have a song that haunts us and reminds us of a difficult season; or one that recalls the ‘best day of our lives’; or a tune that brings a friend or family member straight to mind? Music is powerful and it’s thanks to country music, as therapy, that my website is here today. In fact, I will go as far as to say that it’s thanks to country music that I have had the courage to write and speak out Postnatal Depression. As I have said, when I couldn’t get the words out, country music seemed to speak for me.

girl-1246525_1920Have you seen that girl? is a song by Lee Ann Womack. It talks about a girl who feels like she has ‘lost herself’ and is desperate to try to recover who she was. The moment I re-heard it on my iPod my heart leapt – it described exactly what PND had done to me. When it came to picking a name for my blog, it was not hard to choose!

‘Have you seen that girl
That everybody says I used to be?
Have you seen that girl
Where along the way did I lose me?
Have you seen that girl?’

You can read the post entitled Have you seen that girl? here – it tells how deeply and dramatically PND has changed me.

Then, the first 7 posts, on my blog, were then inspired by Country Songs, as I tried to process, write and share my PND journey with my readers. It really helped to engage with the song and lyrics, so each week I must have listened to the corresponding track 100+ times, as I tried to express myself.

Admitting publicly, on my blog, that I had PND was really hard. Hitting the publish button was a battle. I told no one I was going to do it. I didn’t expect it to be widely seen – except by my Facebook friends – but I was still nervous. I had no idea things would take off in the way that they have.

stock-photo-9027866-woman-with-tape-covering-mouthThe first post was entitled “The Words I Couldn’t Say” which is a song by Rascal Flatts and I LOVE Leighton Meester’s version of it.

“What I should have said just wouldn’t pass my lips
So I held back and now we’ve come to this…
I should have found the way to tell you how I felt
Now the only one I’m telling is myself…
All I can hear in the silence that remains
Are the words I couldn’t say.”

“I have struggled to admit and accept that I have PND for too long, for too long I have lived in silence and fear. For too long there have been countless “words I couldn’t say”. That stops now. So, let me share my illness and my road to recovery with you…” Read more here

From that post onwards, Have you seen that girl? took a life of its own and here we are today!

The other songs and posts, dedicated and indebted to Country Music are:

Old-Boxing-GlovesThe Fight I Couldn’t Win – which comes from a Chris Cagle song, Who Needs The Whiskey, where I detailed how brutally PND has effected me mentally and how my mind just could not win, in the battle against it.

“If you haven’t suffered from PND you might find some of what I admit shocking. You may be tempted to look at me differently, as a mum, and as a person. I am ok with that. I think one of the biggest strongholds of PND is the silence in which we suffer”

broken heartMy Heart’s Broken Too – by Sugarland. PND left me heartbroken and time was NOT mending it. In that post, I shared the depths of emotional pain PND brought me.

“The best way I can describe PND is that my heart was continually breaking, every day, as the ‘Re-occurring Intrusive Thoughts’ did me not leave me. Therefore, there was no way to heal. All that ‘time’ was doing was making it worse. I felt hopeless.”

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-15-04-54How Do You Get That Lonely – by Blaine Larsen. Postnatal Depression has, on a number of occasions, taken me to the end of a cliff, and I have wanted to give up on life altogether. In this post, I shared how dark, frightening and life changing (and almost ending) PND can be and was for me.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 12.05.56Goodbye Time – by Blake Shelton. “facing the pain and heartache of accepting that I have PND, and working through it, is worth the freedom that I am promised in return. Therefore, being free is absolutely worth what I was leaving behind, so it really was Goodbye Time. Hello, recovery!”

marble-box-lost-and-foundLose Your Way, Find Yourself – by Brad Paisley. PND transformed me and life as I knew it. But it hasn’t been the end and it isn’t the end. Having lost myself, I am finally finding myself again.

“sometimes when you lose your way it’s really just as well, because you find yourself.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 12.35.56Letter To Me – Brad Paisley. I wish that I could go back to that lonely, frightened, heartbroken girl and share these words with her “It’s going to be ok”.

“I would rub my weary shoulders, dry my tears, make myself a cup of tea, and provide myself the luxury of falling asleep in peace, with the comfort blanket and safety of the promise, “you’ll make it through this –  it’s going to be ok!” 

So there you have it! It’s been a “Record Year” in many ways for me and for us, as a family.

Who’d have thought that honky-tonks, slide guitars, cowboy boots, Stetsons and Yeehaw could help give birth to this? Not me…but we are here to stay!