Sandi Thom’s ‘crippling’ PND struggle: ‘I felt a massive sense of shame’

The musician opened up to MadeForMums about her battle with postnatal depression...

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Many of us will remember Sandi Thom’s 2006 hit I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) – the catchy track that shot her to fame, and paved the way for an 11-year career in the music industry.

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But what many people don’t know is that the 35-year-old singer-songwriter welcomed a son, Logan, just over a year ago – and has since struggled with postnatal depression.

After going through a “traumatic” labour – where she “haemorraghed 2 litres of blood” – Sandi began experiencing symptoms of PND.

Among them: anxiety, an inability to enjoy things, a lack of energy…

“I was very reclusive for the first 6 months of Logan’s life,” she shares. “I didn’t really venture out, didn’t go and socialise with people.

“You’re very much inside your own head. It’s kind of like walking a thin line – between struggling and at the same time functioning and being a mother.”

And the worst thing for her, she explained, were the horrible thoughts about what might happen to her or her son. 

“For me, the fear aspect of it was probably the most crippling thing. Just irrational fears, that the ground’s gonna swallow you up.

“You don’t ask for it, there’s no real reason that it’s there – it’s just this uninvited darkness that envelopes you.

“You don’t think you’re ever gonna get out of it.”

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And one thing Sandi really fixated on during the months she struggled was the idea of shame – which is exactly what kept her from speaking to someone about how she was feeling.

“You feel a massive sense of shame because you don’t understand why you feel that way when [having a child] is the most joyous thing that’s ever happened to you,” she admits.

“I think because of the shame and the embarrassment, you don’t want people to think that you’re weak or that you’re not a good mum. I certainly wasn’t honest about it and hid it.”

And, of course, comparing herself to others simply added to the strain.

“You look at all these other women, happy and smiling with their babies, and question yourself and whether you’re capable. One of the things [PND] does is make you question… to the extreme.

“Social media almost creates an illusion of reality that you can taper,” she adds.

“I’m probably a good example of that because until I said ‘this is what’s been happening to me for the last 6 months’ – with the pictures, the videos – you would never have known I had that going on in the background.”

Luckily, she made the decision to seek professional help.

“Once I decided to go and see my doctor, bite the bullet and admit to what [was] going on, I started a course of medication and that helped me lift the veil…”

She also found an upside to social media, taking inspiration from an unlikely source.

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“Take someone like Kim Kardashian, probably the most photographed woman in the world – I was quite inspired by the fact she admitted she’d put on like, 50lbs or something, then lost it.”

She then started to feel able to focus on a few things: being there for Logan, first and foremost, and beginning her own baby weight loss journey.

“It was almost serendipitous,” she reveals. “Because it gave me something to focus on other than my son. For me, it was definitely part of re-emerging from this cloud I’d been in.” 

And now, after treatment and a lot of self-care, Sandi says things are definitely looking up for her.

“It’s made me enjoy every single moment more than I would have done, had I not gone through it. It’s given me greater appreciation of a healthy mind – and the joy of having that bond with Logan.”

Now that she’s about to release a song about her experience, she has a message she wants to share to other mums: don’t suffer in silence.

“A lot of women don’t realise the extent of what’s going on in them – they just think this is normal because everybody talks about the ‘baby blues’. 

“Don’t do what I did and put on a brave face and tell the world you’re OK. Go and find somebody and ask for help. Don’t feel ashamed to take medication.”

We’re glad she’s on the mend 💜

Sandi’s charity single Tightrope is out on 24 March. All proceeds go to PANDAS, a charity devoted to helping mums battle pre and postnatal depression.

Images: Instagram/Sandi Thom

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