Thursday, 4 May 2017

Interview with Sandi Thom

I was lucky enough to interview Sandi Thom (singer of one of my favourite songs 'I wish I was a punk rocker') about her new single 'Tightrope' which tells a very personal story of how Sandi felt when she suffered with pre and postnatal depression after the birth of her son, Logan. 

This song really does hit home and it will relate to any mother who has experienced PND, which I know many of my lovely readers have. Sandi has spoken out about how terrifying the whole experience was and how she really did sink very low; thinking irrational things about her son, Logan. 

Not only has Sandi chosen to lay her soul bare to help other women to seek help but, Sandi is also donating all the profits to the PANDAS foundation, one of the very few charities in the UK that supports those affected with postnatal depression and other perinatal mental illnesses.

Here is our chat;

Did you find it difficult to write a song based on your experiences and putting yourself out there for the world to see?

At first writing the song was something I hadn't considered sharing. But as a songwriter it was always my go to self therapy to write a song about it and because I wasn't honest with people around me about how I was feeling playing this song to them was my way of saying "this is how I feel". What I did find difficult though was trying to sum up into words just exactly how I did feel considering PND comes with little or no explanation, it's just there for reasons you don't understand.

It cannot be easy and must feel like being naked with nowhere to hide? 

I don't mind laying my soul bare for the world to see, it's something I've done all my life in music and comes naturally to me. I find music is a place where you have poetic licence to say anything. That's what makes it so powerful. 

You have chosen to give all the profits from your new single, Tightrope, to PANDAS national charity which do amazing work and all the publicity will be well received as they deserve more recognition and support. What made you decide to do this and why PANDAS?  

When I played the song to the women at Pandas their reactions were so heart felt and it gave me great pleasure to see that this little song had spoken to them, as they are all women with first hand experience of the illness. Because of this I realised that I could reach out to lots of women out there with the song and potentially connect them with Pandas. Since the video was released on social media I've already sent many women in their direction who have come forward to me in privacy and told me their suffering. So it's working! 

Your new single will be a lifeline to so many women out there. Today we put so much pressure on ourselves to be a super Mum but bringing up a small human being is hard enough without any more added pressure on top. How do you manage to juggle it all? 

When Logan was born I honestly didn't have a clue I just went mostly on motherly instinct. Which I found quite powerful. I was quite strict about instilling a routine from the very beginning, which inevitably changed many times but now he's just turned 1 I find his routine is very predictable and so I work my work around that. He goes everywhere with me. This week he flew from bahrain (where we live) to London and back. Travelled to itv studios, photo shoots, the lot! He works In with my life and he enjoys watching everything going on around him. He was very well socialised from a young age, which has made it easier to do this. 

If you don’t mind me asking you this; you suffered with both pre-and post-natal depression for well over six months. When did you know that there might be another reason for feeling the way you did and decide to seek help? What was the turning point for you?

I recognised the anxiety straight away, as I've suffered in the past from anxiety. The anxiety I felt with PND was chronic and consumed me on a daily basis. Despite this I battled through it day to day and hid it well. The fear just got the better of me though and I finally caved and admitted to myself and others around me that I was not going to be able to pull myself through this without help. My doctor immediately put me on medication which was the best
thing I ever did for myself. 

How important to you is it to speak out and share what you are goings wit through so others know they are not alone and it really is OK to not be OK?

It's extremely important. There is such a huge stigma attached to PND and indeed much mental illness because I think we associate it with weakness. Or feel that we will be perceived to be weak. I've done so much in my life struggling with anxiety and unfounded fears. And I know so many amazing people who still achieve so much in life whilst struggling through mental illness. It is very common in my industry in particular. These people are strong successful individuals who need not see it as a weakness. So I think it's massively important to re-establish the perception that mental illness is NOT a sign of weakness, it is just part of who you are and something that we must then seek help to find ways to manage. 

How are you finding motherhood? As we all have good and bad days, as well as brilliant days! I want Mum’s to feel that they can open up about the bad days without feeling like a failure or a terrible Mum, because we are all human at the end of the day and can only take so much. 

Oh sure there are bad days! And amazing days! But in the end it's those precious moments that you store in your memory,  not the bad days. My son is a joy and keeps me humble and appreciative of life. He's also a little monkey! But I have never known a love like this before. 

I think the problem is today us women have access to many more options than ever before. And, if we don’t use them to our advantage then we are somehow letting ourselves down. You only have to go on social media to see another business venture started by a new Mum. If you are already feeling low or that you are not doing a good enough job this can be dangerous for the mindset. Do you feel sometimes social media is a great tool but also risks Mum’s putting even more pressure to compete against each other to have that wonderful life, that never exists? 

I think social media opens the door of opportunity for women who are stay at home mums with their kids. I think it's fantastic that women can start businesses and write blogs about their experiences. This is something I see a lot of women doing which is simple and easy to start; creating a blog about their lives because every day mums are inspirational to many others!! I think the best attitude is to do whatever makes you happy. If you're happy with what you have and feel that your fulfilled then you don't need to start a business. There is no right or wrong way. For me I have to create it's in my DNA but I have the advantage of being able to do that wherever I am. At the end of the day it's whatever makes you happy. If you want more then the great thing is you can access it at the touch of a button thanks to the internet. 

I too have felt very isolated and lonely when I was looking after my son and I had no one around me. It is very difficult to pull yourself up and make yourself leave the house to start speaking to new people. It isn’t easy being catapulted into this new parenting world and forced to do things you never normally would do before. How do you cope on a day to day basis with your beautiful son? 

In the beginning it was so overwhelming, I think mainly because I was terrified of messing up. But off course I was gonna mess up! It was all brand new to me. There is such pressure on new mums to just get it right first go! But now that we've spent a year together it's become like second nature and I look at other mums starting out with their new borns and I just wanna go and help them! Cause I know exactly how they feel. We are all mums at the end of he day, all going through the same set of new experiences. We should reach out and help one another whenever we can. When I was going through PND I was a total recluse though, I kept myself to myself, that's how I dealt with it. But now that I'm back to myself again I'm really enjoying socialising and chatting with other mums. I think that's why Pandas is such a great group for women like you and I who hid themselves away through the illness. Great to know there is someone on the end of the phone you can speak too. 

As I want my readers to know no matter who you are, we all experience the same things and show we should support one another, not point fingers or judge. Do you feel it is important to support women?

It is very easy to judge when you do not know but since becoming a mum I find myself being so much more understanding of other mums and their babies particularly in those more challenging moments like travelling on a plane with your little one. I can't help but want to help other mums when I see them struggling and would hope they would do the same for me! We are all on this same crazy mad amazing journey together so we defo need to help each other wherever possible. 

What are your goals for the future and what is next on your ‘To Do’ list? As I think as well as being a mother we shouldn’t lose sight of the things that make us, well us. 

I want to run a half marathon this year. I was running half marathons before I fell pregnant so must get back to that level of fitness!! Secondly I have quite a few tour dates coming up that I want to put together an awesome show for, in the uk and Australia October and November. Logan will come to all of this with us! And my husband! It's a family affair! I am also a patron of several charities and that work is on going. 

Lastly, everyone must leave us with a  a parenting confession they have never told anyone before! To show WE all do it. 

Hmmm ok. Well here's one... not really a confession cause I'll happily tell you... when I have to go to the toilet on a plane Logan has to sit on my knee while I do my business. I usually stick him in the harness and pop myself down. He just has to go to the toilet too! Lol. 

Another good one is the other day he woke up and I had taken him into the bed with me for the last hour of sleep, took his nappy off to let him relax and let his bum breathe and he proceeded to poop all over the bed next to me. Quite the thing! 

I have always been a fan of yours and I am even more now. Thank you for giving up your time to speak to me and good luck with the new single, Tightrope which is released on Friday 24th March.

You're very welcome!!! 

Sandi x 

Tightrope is available now! To view the video and to hear the song click here

For more information on Sandi Thom visit her website here

For more information on PANDAS foundation click here

All photos and information credited to Sandi Thom. 


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