10 Things I’ve Gained from Postnatal Depression

PND is such a frightening and terrible experience, one than I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy and one that I desperately don’t want to repeat. To indicate that there are positives to such an awful illness seems fairly ridiculous.  However, there is no getting away from the fact that PND and Anxiety have changed me, and in most cases, for the better. There are aspects of my personality and areas of my life that simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for what I’ve been through. So, I’ve decided to list them here – mainly to demonstrate that nothing, even the worst thing, is ever only black and white.

Increased empathy

I wouldn’t say I was a selfish or unkind person before this experience but I certainly lived in a bubble. I felt sympathy for anyone struggling with mental health issues but, as I had no experience of it, there was a voice deep down that still said “Why can’t they just snap out of it?” If I heard of a suicide on my train journey to work I’d just be irritated that it would delay my commute.

Having experienced anxiety, depression and some OCD symptoms I find myself hugely empathetic to anyone else who suffers from similar issues. And not only that.  Strangely, I find I’m softer and more empathetic to many issues I wouldn’t necessarily have understood before – I think because I’m now very aware of the fact that when someone acts in a way that doesn’t seem right or in a way you don’t expect, you can never know what problems they are struggling with in their lives, or their minds.

Letting go of worry

I’ve been a worrier all my life. If my husband was 30 mins late home I’d have my thumb hovering over 999.  Imagining (and usually voicing!) the worst case scenario of any given situation came very naturally to me.  Anxiety is just an extension of worry, I suppose.  It’s when your worries become so powerful they take away your rationality and consume your mind.  The only way to recover from anxiety is to, at least partly, recover from worrying too.  Through CBT I learnt to rationalise my thoughts again and now I use that technique to counter my everyday worries too.  It doesn’t always work, but I’m learning.

On a similar vein, I sweat the small stuff a lot less. Small irritations that would have made me angry or upset before no longer have that power – I’ve seen how difficult just living each day can be and everyday woes pale in comparison.


I’ve always been a glass-half-empty kinda gal. But, like with the worrying, you can’t be negative and still expect to recover from depression and anxiety – it’s simply counter-productive.  Dwelling on the awfulness of the illness only prolongs it.  Learning to be more positive and optimistic has been my biggest challenge by far, and definitely a work in progress, but I also think it will be the tool most useful in my future life.


I’ve reconnected with writing in a way I never envisioned I would, and this has brought a huge amount of happiness to me.  And the fact that I’m now branching out to other topics brings me a lot of happiness, and keeps me connected to me.

Connecting to others

I’ve met people through social media, blogging, and simply sharing my PND story in real life that I never would have had the opportunity to speak to had I not been looking for likeminded people.


The pure relief I feel when I’m overcome with love for my son almost knocks me to the ground. When you spend weeks, months really, wondering if you’ll ever love your child the way you expected, every fond moment with them is an enormous blessing.  Similarly, the gratefulness I feel for my wonderful husband, family and in laws in the way that they have supported my recovery is huge.

Living for the present

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I’ve always lived for the future. I’ve always been waiting for my life to begin.  One good way to battle anxious thoughts is to bring yourself to the present moment, rather than imagining the near or distant future, and this is a good way to bring more happiness to life in general.


I lived a pretty charmed life before I had Caterpillar. I had very few problems or worries (except the imagined ones mentioned above!) and therefore didn’t feel like I was a particularly strong person, because I’d never really needed to be.  Surviving PND showed me I posessed strength I didn’t know I had which makes me more confident about surviving other difficulties that I may encounter in the future.


I have learnt so much in the last two and a half years – both about myself as a person but also in terms of mental health. I find the experiences, research and treatment of mental illness fascinating in a way I doubt I would have otherwise and this has made me thirsty for more information and to educate myself further.

Future career

I never had much of a plan about what I wanted from life after raising a family, now I know I want to either write or work in mental health, or perhaps a little of both. Without the experience of PND, I’m not sure where my future life would take me.

What have you learnt from traumatic experiences that has helped you develop as a person?

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28 comments on “10 Things I’ve Gained from Postnatal Depression

  1. Before, I’d wonder why sb would be suicidal with so much good in life, till I got PPD and that felt like the only solution…certainly more empathetic, more patient and more enthusiastic about recovery.

    1. All we can do is keep trying, Paul. Being positive is SO challenging for me too but practice makes perfect right? I’ll definitely check out your post later. Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. That was so beautiful! I love how you’ve gleaned all these silver linings out of your dark place. Raising kids is such a rough journey, bringing us to all kinds of amazing places we never thought we’d go and into the arms of loving friends, caregivers, and family!

  3. I love that you have sought out the positives amongst the negative, this is something which I found really helpful in moving forward. I still try to focus on those positives now and the fact that due to my depression, and other life experiences along the way, I am a much better person than I ever would have been. Its important to remember that isn’t it? Thanks for sharing #MarvMondays

  4. Such a fab positive post, it’s such a brave thing to see the positives out of any situation. I completely agree with having empathy too, I don’t think it’s something you can fully understand until you experience it yourself. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays! Kaye xo

  5. Wow, what a touching post! It’s amazing that you have found positivity & gratitude through PND. It’s really wonderful that you are sharing this & that you managed to come out with a positive outlook! Thanks so much for linking up with #bloggerclubuk x

    1. Thanks for your kind words. It was a truly awful experience but it has led me on a big personal journey that actually brings a lot of positive things – including blogging! Thanks for commenting x

  6. I feel exactly the same, post natal depression has actually shaped my life for the better in so many ways. Although I have lost a lot of my life, twelve years really, to depression, I am a better person for it, I am stronger and more empathic for sure. I love the saying that only those who have known such sadness can really appreciate true happiness. #stayclassy
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  7. Such a brilliant and insightful read. I was so lucky not to have PND I thought I might as I had suffered depression in the past and my sister had PND. I did learn so much though through my depression and I still have anxiety, but am managing. I too used to be more judgemental and when you go through it you realise there is no such thing as just snapping out of it, it frustrates me when I hear people say that about peel going through depression. Great post. #stayclassy

  8. it’s lovely that you want to use your experiences to help others, what a great way to put a positive spin on what you’ve been through! Much respect for that!

    I never suffered (thankfully) with PND, but I have been reading up on it and hearing about others and their stories, and whilst I can never claim to know fully, its been really insightful gaining some knowledge of it. #stayclassy

  9. You are my hero – you have turned a very negative thing into something positive! I can only imagine how tough it must have been for you. I’ve only experienced depression through my ex boyfriend and mother. I know how hard it can be, but you have found so many positive things – a new career and passion for mental health issues and writing. Gratefulness and letting go of worry are two things I really struggle with, this is such a great message for everyone – including me – to appreciate the things we have and live in the present. Thank you so much for sharing with #StayClassy!
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  10. I’m glad you have such a positive reflection on what must have been a horrific time.

    I’m reluctant to attribute any good coming out of our sons’ deaths but in a way taking that approach makes it worse. I wouldn’t say it has made me a better person but I am different. It was such an intense and unknowable time and some friends and family struggled with that as we struggled with them.

    It did make me re-evaluate my (lack of) career choices and gave me the push to find something I was really good at, enjoyed and had some meaning. The return to writing came much, much later.

    Thanks for your honesty and sharing your story.


  11. A really beautiful post. I have never suffered with depression so cannot really commment what its like to have it. I felt really weepy and upset and felt I couldn’t cope for a few weeks after my baby was born 4 months ago. But I put that down to hormones not PND. I could have been wrong though. xx

    Thanks for linking up to #StayClassy
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  12. This is a great post, you highlight some of the hardest areas of PND but also show us that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that it does take suffering for many to gain empathy towards any mental health issue. Once gained lives can be enhanced, just by understanding and appreciating what a struggle it can be.


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