How Writing Healed Me After PND

This blog is six months old today. I began writing with the objective of helping others, which is still the main purpose, but I had no idea back then how much I would need this space for myself too.

Woman's hand writing - writing helped my recovery from PND & Anxiety

I’ve always loved to write. I filled countless notebooks with stories from the age of ten and obsessively scribbled dramatic, cringe-worthy poetry all through my teens.  But when I began my first proper job, and my life became caught up in all the ties that came with being an adult, my creative side took a back seat. Long commutes and long work hours left me exhausted and uninspired, and writing seemed somehow unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

A few years ago my passion became reignited when I began writing fan fiction and I remembered how enjoyable it was to have characters come alive in my mind again.  Plus I realised that I did still have a little talent for it. I imagined I would continue to dabble in fiction as a hobby but then Caterpillar was born and everything from my old life lost it’s meaning in a blizzard of anxiety and depression.

I couldn’t think straight long enough to do housework or hold a conversation, let alone find room in my head for stories. I was too busy listening to the growl of anxiety to make room to hear fictional voices. And yet, strangely, I still wrote.

These were not the great words of a fantasy story nor even the angsty poetry of a broken-hearted teen. These were dark, awful, angry statements carved into the page in desperate biro. This was a way to purge the horror of intrusive thoughts out of my head and onto paper that I could tear up and throw away. I have notebooks filled with the words of a very unwell new mum stashed in my bedside table that, even now, I don’t feel ready to look at.

Despite this, paper and pen became a much more positive outlet too. My husband would often find me on the couch, Caterpillar sleeping in his bouncy chair next to me, scribbling the same statements over and over, like a naughty pupil writing lines. You will sleep tonight. You are not crazy. You do not hate your baby. You are a good mum. YOU WILL GET BETTER. Part of me believed that if I wrote these things down often enough, if I said them in the mirror every day, I could convince my anxious mind that they were true. It didn’t work overnight but it was a start.

When I began therapy my notebooks became even more important. They often consisted of two columns – irrational, anxious thoughts vs. true facts. A vital part of CBT. I also began to write during the brief periods of relief from anxiety, as little as 30 minutes later I could be back in it’s clutches but it helped to then have a page in front of me that read “At 3pm, you laughed at a line in Friends. Then Teddy smiled, you smiled back and you felt almost happy.” I began writing my daily Three Things in my diary and this helped immensely in becoming more positive.

During this time I also read a lot. I’d never been particularly interested in non-fiction before, the joy of reading was in stories for me, but I didn’t have the concentration for that at the time. Instead I read blogs, and forums and PND charity websites. I read anything that was written by someone who had once felt as dreadful as me and now had their normal life back.

Slowly but surely, brick by brick, I began to rebuild. Always with my trusty notebook by my side.

I never forgot those desperate hours spent scouring the internet for recovery stories and decided the best way for me to find a positive in this experience was to share my story with others out there. The Butterfly Mother was born.

Little did I know that only a few weeks after I began posting I would experience the worst anxiety setback in my recovery. And that I would need my own words from weeks before more than ever. Instead of a crumpled notebook they were right there on a screen, on the internet for the world to see – undeniable proof that I got better once and I could again. And I have. And it hasn’t taken nearly as long or been nearly as painful.

It is vital for anyone who feels they can speak out about mental health to do so. It is so frightening, as demonstrated by the fact that I still don’t feel brave enough to share this blog as a personal Facebook status, but I’m trying.

I’m proud of this place and these words and I feel blessed to have the inspiration to write them and this platform to share them with the world. I’m so proud too of all the other brave men and women who blog to share their own experiences. And I’m so proud of anyone who doesn’t want to blog or advocate or shout this stuff from the rooftops but instead takes their partner or doctor or health visitor aside and says – “I don’t feel right. Help me.” That is the bravest thing of all.

Related posts:

Using Lists To Manage Anxiety

Three Year Blogging Anniversary

Anxiety Toolkit Live video series

37 comments on “How Writing Healed Me After PND

  1. Wow, you are an incredible writer; your way with words is mesmerising. Be brave and create your own FB page. I did. I (try) to write funny posts because I hide behind my humour, but I too have found myself in a dark place every now and again. Keep writing and write fiction too. You’re a talented wonderful Mum. Xxx #sundaystars

  2. I really look forward to your posts, and I really wish I had written more when I was ill as I think it would help me to realise how far I had come on the down days, and also to accept that ALL people have down days and feel different emotions throughout the day and it’s how we deal with them that matters. I guess before I didn’t pay attention to my emotions, well not like I do know and like you I’m getting better at recognising uncomfortable emotions and tying to let them be.
    When I was first ill with PND I had three lines written on my fridge that helped me each day
    ‘ This too shall pass’ ‘ I will be stronger’ ‘live in the moment’ xx

  3. I loved reading this. There is so much therapy in writing something down. I have posts that I have written but never intend to publish (at least until the right time), but by putting pen to paper or finger to iPhone I have been able to let go of a something that has been eating me inside. Congratulations on your anniversary! #twinklytuesday

  4. Aah I loved this post and — although I didn’t suffer from PND — my blog is definitely an escape and very much started as a cathartic exercise. It was a good way to affirm to myself that all was well and things were going to be OK after such a long and heartbreaking journey. Beautifully written, as ever. You’re an inspiration to PND sufferers xx Thanks so much for linking up with us for #TwinklyTuesday, we really appreciate it 🙂

  5. Such a beautiful post. I too suffered from PND with both my children. The second time was far worse than the first and it’s still a period of time I struggle to talk about, other than acknowledge that I had PND. Two years on and I feel like I have come on in leaps and bounds. I am now off my medication and cope pretty well, however I do still have a period every month where I can feel my anxiety and depression slipping back and I have to work hard to push through those periods. But I manage it, and I will continue to manage it as best I can, either by myself or with the proper help should I need it. Sorry for the rambling comment. Xxx

    1. I’m sorry you experienced PND, it is so difficult. Have you ever had therapy at all? I find that has helped me more than anything else to manage my anxiety and other negative feelings. Thanks for reading and commenting x

  6. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing. I too had PND with both my children. The second time round was far worse than the first. I still can’t bring myself to talk about that time other than acknowledge that I had PND in the first place, but two years on I feel like I have come on in leaps and bounds. I am no longer on my medication and cope really quite well without it, however I do have times every month where I can feel my anxiety and depression creeping back and I have to work very hard to push through to the other side, but I manage it and I’m proud of myself for being able to do so. xxx

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, I just realised I don’t think I replied to you – sorry! I’m sorry you’ve struggled too, it is a truly awful business. But you should be so proud of yourself for how far you’ve come, I believe the pain lessens for all of us over time. Thanks so much for reading x

  7. Such a wonderful and hugely important post. Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I know from experience how hard it is to write about your own mental health. I always worry if people will judge me or think I am a rubbish mother. But my blog and posts seem to help lots of other people suffering from similar issues and that makes me so proud. You should be hugely proud too. Thanks for linking up with #SundaysStars. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

  8. I found my blog really helped after I gave birth and to this day I see it as an outlet and also a way to be ‘me’ for a bit and step away from ‘just being a mum’ – something I often feel. I’m a big believer in writing stuff down, getting it out and also getting some fresh air to make me feel loads better.
    Great post. I look forward to reading more.


  9. What a thoughtful post, I’m glad you’ve found you’re writing again, and it’s even better it helps both at the time and to look back on. You’ve come such a long way, it’s inspiring #bestandworst

  10. I’m so glad your writing has been such an outlet for you and although you may have written pages of rantings at the start, it must have helped. It is great this blog has been created from that as it will help so many others. Keep sharing. Thanks for linking with #bestandworst and see you soon xx

  11. Absolutely brilliant. A month into blogging, Ian also finding it enormously helpful with my depression and anxiety. There is something amazingly liberating about being able to write whatever I want and the freedom of the blank page or screen. The fact that anybody enjoys reading and is helped is a wonderful bonus. So please keep writing. Perhaps those earlier plans of fiction, books etc (and I’ve had those most of my life too – despite the fact that I’m a guy and therefore don’t have PND, we seem quite alike in this respect) might come to fruition in time as well.

  12. Can I just say what a comfort to discover a person that actually
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    You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More and more people really need to look at this
    and understand this side of the story. I can’t believe you aren’t more popular
    given that you surely possess the gift.
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