“Dark Clouds of Music”

“At 16 all I wanted to do was get on a bus and leave. I was badly bullied. I wanted to quit music school. I felt helpless. I wanted to be famous. Any famous; just so they’d leave me alone.”

Kat, a prodigious violinist in a popular indie-folk band, a professional internet harmful content manager, and a mother, sits back in her chair, “I wanted to be a model!” she says, almost hyperventilating on account of her fit of self-deprecating laughter.

“I suffer with a lack of confidence and have always dealt with anxiety and depression. All I have ever wanted is to my make parents proud. They were always hugely supportive, but I would always find the negative in everything they said.

“It was the first year of the band making it. We played at a competition, came runners-up and got offered a free EP deal. I found out I was pregnant two days before, but I didn’t tell any of the band members. I knew things were about to change.

“The first day of recording was during the week Seth was born. He was five weeks premature. I saw him for a minute, and he had to be taken to the neonatal intensive care unit. I couldn’t have him by me. I was failing on all fronts.

“There I was in my hospital bed safe, and all the while I kept resenting him for what he was taking away from me. I felt I was the worst mother in the world. I broke down. ‘Do we need to worry about post-natal depression?’ asked the nurse. And that just made me cry more.” Kat composes herself, her smile hiding just behind her tears.

“The girls came to visit me, and we had a rehearsal for the EP in the corridor—that has become such a fond memory. The psychologist at the hospital was incredible. She made me see that it was normal to feel resentment and that it was still okay to want things.

“I had planned it all out. I was going to have a hypnobirth…all that trendy shit! Now I was at home, up at 3AM pumping milk without my baby, because ‘breast is good, and formula is bad.’ My negative thoughts spiralled. I honestly thought people were trying to trick me when they told me that I could give him formula once he came home.”

“Two months later I played my first gig. I was still seeing the psychologist at the hospital. It took months for me to feel better, but I slowly watched the dark clouds depart.

“I used to play violin to Seth all the time. When in hospital I’d check his heart monitor to see what kind of music soothed him most. He’s five now and so musical.

“I channel the hard times into my music. Music just makes all emotions visible. As I play, my 16-year-old self knows that she doesn’t need to run away.”