Health, Illness and A Helping Hand to Hold you Up.

Lisa is no stranger to health issues. From birth, she has been struggling with a lifelong heart condition. Subsequently, she has become accustomed to managing her physical health, navigating the healthcare system and dealing with a multitude of physicians and appointments. However, nothing prepared her the complexities of mental illness. 

For Lisa, the struggle with depression and anxiety began in 2013 when she became pregnant with her son. 

“I noticed early on in my pregnancy that I wasn’t doing well mentally, I wasn’t sleeping and I would cry at the drop of a hat” she says. The mood swings and thoughts went far beyond hormonal shifts. “The anxiety and worries were all consuming.”

Lisa said her anxiety got significantly worse when she mentioned it to her physician at a routine appointment. She remembers feeling unsupported and shamed about the extra weight she was carrying. “I went to the doctor for help and he told me that I was too fat and it would be a miracle if my child lived. He also told me that I would have to give birth in Edmonton if I kept gaining weight because there were no beds in Lloyd that could support me.” 

Lisa remembers that being a pivotal moment in her pregnancy, and her mental health. Instead of feeling supported and empowered by her healthcare team, she felt fearful and shamed.“After that, I found myself never bonding with the child while I was pregnant, I was so scared that something was going to happen to him.” She recalls.

Not only did she have her emotional struggles to battle with, her pregnancy began to have complications. “My pregnancy was a tough one” she said. She had multiple incidents of bleeding throughout her pregnancy and in her 2nd trimester was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This added to her stress and worry for the child she was carrying. 

On May 8 2013, Lisa son was born via a cesarean section. Lisa says she was prepared for the surgery however, the recovery was something she could not have anticipated. “I had a severe infection after my delivery, so I was back and forth to the doctor with my newborn in tow.” This in turn added strain and her depression and anxious thoughts only got worse. 

 “When my baby was born, I was terrified that he was going to die. I would just be sitting there holding him and I would just start to cry…I didn’t know why I was crying, but it would happen so often” she says. “Truthfully, I don’t really remember much of the first month of his life. It’s all a blur.”

Lisa managed to put on a facade when everyone else was around. Although she had a very supportive family, she kept her struggles private. “I was still functioning when I needed to, I didn’t show signs of anything being wrong.  No one knew what I was dealing with.” 

She suffered in silence for years. For various reasons, her marriage began to fall apart and her and Cooper’s Father got divorced. She did her best to move on with her life, but felt isolated and didn’t know where to turn. She said she felt selfish for asking for help. 

She didn’t get diagnosed with anxiety and postpartum depression until years later when she found a new doctor and mustered up the courage to talk about her feelings. She was diagnosed with severe anxiety and was offered medication to help her cope. However, she found the first medication she was prescribed didn’t work well for her. Unfortunately, Lisa was not counseled on any other options, so she stopped taking her prescription. Luckily, the feelings of anxiety and hopelessness eventually started to dissipate. Lisa was extremely fortunate, as that is not the case with many women. 

Lisa is now living her fiancé Ken and she is happy to say those dark days are behind her. She still has some mild anxiety however, she has learned to cope. Now, she another baby to share in the love. Lisa and Ken welcomed a baby girl in 2017 named Sophie to make her son a proud big brother. Lisa’s experience was very different this time around. She was prepared and knew the warning signs of depression and anxiety and found an obstetrician that she felt comfortable with. She was open and honest with her feelings.

“When I got pregnant with Sophie, I knew what to look for and I had spoke to my doctor about the depression I had had with my first son, so he watched me very closely” she said. “Thinking back to my pregnancies, they were both so different. I didn’t have the bad feelings or thoughts the second time around. I knew what to look for and I wasn’t shy about talking about it anymore.” 

Although she still has an uphill battle with her health (Lisa recently had a hysterectomy and still has a condition she has to manage) she is optimistic about her future. Lisa is now taking her diploma in counseling to help others that are struggling. “I want women to know that they are not alone and that they have nothing to be ashamed of when it gets to be too much. They need someone to hold them up for a little while.” 

 

Life After Loss and Making it Count

Krista HoldenAt 6:28 am on May 18, 2008, Krista Holden first became a mother when her son Aedan was born. She held him for five short hours before Aedan stopped breathing and closed his eyes for the last time. Krista has known loss that most people cannot begin to comprehend.

Aedan was born ten weeks premature at 32 weeks and 2 days, with occipital encephalocele which is a rare brain condition that didn’t allow Aedan’s brain to develop and would make it unlikely for him to live outside his mother’s womb.

Krista knew something was wrong when they had a routine ultrasound in her 21st week of pregnancy.  “I still remember the day I learned my baby was sick. My physician was away, so I was seeing one of her colleagues, but first I needed to get an ultrasound. I remember sitting in the terrible gown behind a curtain waiting for the technician. I could hear two nurses talking about a mom who’s just learned her baby had died. Tears running down my cheeks. Heart aching for the mom. Terrified and scared, as I was all alone. Up until that moment, I was naive to all the things that can go wrong during a pregnancy.” She recalls. “It was my turn. I was terrified. I laid on the table and watched my baby dance on the screen. The technician was chatty at first, and then she got very quiet. Eerily quiet. I remember specifically asking if everything was okay. She quietly went about her work as if I wasn’t there. My heart sank. I knew something was wrong.”

Her instincts were right. The next thing she remembers is a doctor that was unfamiliar to her, telling her point blank that her baby had a condition in his brain that would make him unable to live after birth and the pregnancy was not viable. He then suggested immediate termination of the pregnancy. For the Holden family, that wasn’t an option.

“How could he suggest this? I was 21 weeks pregnant. I had a beautiful baby growing inside of me. A loved baby. A wanted baby.”

Krista remembers a wave of utter shock and devastation. “How could this be happening to me? I was terrified”

Even though Krista was scared and in disbelief, she gathered all her courage and her strength and decided that she would be the one to choose what is best for her baby and her body. For her, it felt right to continue the pregnancy to term, no matter what the outcome.

“It was the first time in my life I advocated for myself. I was going to carry this baby to term. Little did I know, for the next 11 weeks I would be continually questioned on why I would want to carry this baby, as the outcome was not going to change.” The lack of support was devastating, however she was sure over her decision.

Over the next weeks, she would develop a birth plan and gave as much love to her unborn baby as she possibly could. However, the harsh reality of the inevitable loss of her baby was sinking in and her emotional and mental health was beginning to struggle.

Then at 32 weeks, her body could not handle anymore and her doctor determined she had to be induced for her own safety. On what should have been the most important and joyful day of a new parents of life, Krista was saying goodbye and thinking about funeral arrangements for her baby. The same day that Krista became a mother, she became a mother stricken with grief and sadness at the loss of her only child.

“Aedan was alive for five beautiful hours and only knew love. Aedan made me a mom. He was a gift, but I was devastated and lost without him.”

Without her child, Krista struggled to move on.

“After Aedan’s death, I was lost, angry, confused, scared and heartbroken. I hated my body. It had failed me.”

The next months were a blur to Krista and she remembers feeling lost, with little guidance and support from  healthcare professionals. She suffered from post traumatic stress disorder following the experience of her pregnancy, the rushed delivery and subsequent loss of her precious Aedan.

“Maybe I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety at that time, but honestly I’m not sure. It was never mentioned but maybe that was because I had no baby, so no one thought it was possible. I do remember very little follow up from my doctor or specialist.”

 

When Krista and Kristian did decide that they wanted to continue to try for another child, they did so with trepidation. The thought of another loss was overwhelming. Fortunately, Krista became pregnant with a healthy boy that had no evidence of complications from her previous pregnancy, but that didn’t stop her from worrying.”I was terrified. I couldn’t survive another loss of a child. But we had so much love to give, and we wanted a family.” The whole pregnancy, Krista was extremely worried for her baby. She had been through the worst with Aedon, and she was concerned it was going to happen again.

 

After a healthy pregnancy, on March 15, 2013, at 2:40 am Elliot was born. Krista’s struggle was immediate and intense. “Kristian said I wouldn’t stop staring at Elliot, and wouldn’t put him down. I never slept while in the hospital. I couldn’t relax. I was anxious and worried.” Krista reflected. She would remain anxious and worried when she took Elliot home. She repeatedly expressed concern to her healthcare team, but they all said it was normal to have some “baby blues” or to be a little anxious with a newborn.

In hindsight, Krista looks back on that experience and wonders why more healthcare professionals weren’t concerned for her mental health. There were no red flags or questions asked about her mental health or her anxiety during this second pregnancy in spite of her history.

“I said I had concerns to the health nurse, my family doctor and my obstetrician about my mood, breastfeeding, lack of sleep. Everyone made it seem normal, part of motherhood. And with every screening for postpartum depression, I would continue to score high, yet never received recommendations for services. I never received follow up until the next appointment where I’d score high again, despite us asking for help, and scoring high every single time.”

With every passing day, Krista grew wearier. Her anxiety and depression were taking over and she was becoming a shell of the vivacious person she used to know. Every moment was spent worrying about Elliot. She worried if he was eating enough or if he was sleeping enough and if he was healthy enough, but at the same time feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude that her son was alive and well.

Krista felt robbed of many of the first moments of Elliot’s life, as the anxiety and depression didn’t allow her to be fully present. She felt like she was living her life in a fog, barely making it through day by day. The brief moments of joy were then followed by grief and sadness at the fact that her firstborn son, Aedon would never meet the milestones that Elliot was reaching and Elliot would never know his brother.  

“I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for my husband to watch his best friend disappear right before his eyes. And he was unsure of what to do to help. He wanted to fix everything but he himself was lost. How could he not be, watching the emotional turmoil I was going through. We struggled silently, unsure where to turn, or who to ask for help.” She remembers a time where she was not sleeping, not eating and felt utterly defeated. “I was lost, terrified and so scared. I didn’t want to be alone. I couldn’t sleep. I barely ate. I was not functioning. How was I to care for this little baby when I couldn’t care for myself.”

When Elliot turned a year old, Krista attempted to go back to work. She describes it as “an epic fail” as her mental health was deteriorating and it didn’t allow her to do simple tasks and concentrate on her work.

Eventually, after  seeing his wife slip away further into depression and after months of phone calls and fighting to get services, Kristian got his wife into a support group in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for mother’s living with postpartum depression.

“I cried the whole way to Saskatoon.” Krista recalls. “ I was scared. I didn’t want to leave my baby who was now 14 months old. I cried through the entire meeting. I couldn’t speak. I just cried, but I went back, week after week. My husband would drive me three hours each way.”

She says that support was absolutely invaluable. She said those women listened without judgment and although had different stories and different struggles, knew exactly what Krista was feeling. She felt like she could finally be herself for those few hours and could take off the mask that she wore around the rest of the world.“Kristian and his persistence to get me in that group and those women absolutely saved my life.”

With the support of a Mom’s going through the same issues and a connection to postpartum resources, Krista slowly became aware of the next steps in her recovery. Suddenly Krista realized that she was not alone. In fact, Krista’s devastating disease is more common than originally thought. The World Health organization estimates ⅕ postpartum women are affected worldwide, and certain conditions such as lived experiences and previous mental health conditions can put Mother’s at more of an increased risk. Not only was Krista not alone, she was susceptible from the start. Krista realized that she needed to start talking about her struggles, in hopes to help the others like her that could not advocate for themselves.

When there was an opportunity to share her story to stakeholders in her community of Lloydminster, she mustered up all her courage and decided to share how difficult it was for her as a new mother suffering from postpartum depression to get support and how she felt like the healthcare system failed her. The Lloydminster community was forever rewarded by Krista’s vulnerability and courage when she chose to speak her truth. The Mother’s First, a Postpartum Support and Maternal Mental Health Initiative began in response to the need that Krista so bravely put into words. Today, Mother’s from all over the surrounding area access this service to receive education and valuable support. She has been the driving force and championed to bring support to her community that she so desperately needed.

Although Krista has made leaps and bounds in her recovery, her battle is not over and she now suffers from chronic depression and anxiety. She will forever be grieving the loss of a son that never got to reach the milestones and dreams in life that His parents desperately wanted for him. However, Krista is grateful for the family she has now and hopeful for the future. She keeps Aedon’s memory alive in every breath she takes. “Elliot will know that he is forever loved and that he has an older brother that is loved so deeply as well. I love our children so much, I would do anything for them. I live for my boys.” And living for her boys, to Krista, meant getting help and advocating for herself even when she felt hopeless. “I needed to get help for Elliot. He needed a healthy Mom. Even if I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, my baby was worth fighting for.”

Now, she has taken that heartache and years of suffering and used it to help others. She is a strong advocate to Mother’s and families suffering with the effects of maternal mood disorders. She is also been an integral part of educating healthcare professionals on ways to support new mother’s beyond the delivery room.

“We share our story in hopes of creating awareness and supports for families, never to assign blame, ourselves included. Our hope is that no family every suffers in silence during their greatest time of need, nor needs to advocate for such fundamental needs.  Let’s make Lloydminster the best community to raise a family.”

 

The My Why Team would like to thank The Holden Family for participating in The Mother Series. A partnership with the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation for Project Sunrise.

With Passion and Perseverance

Sarah SklapskyNo two journeys into motherhood are the same. For Ryan and Sarah Sklapsky the journey wasn’t quick, nor was it easy.

“It took us 4 years from the time we decided we were ready to be parents until Bodhi was born,” explained Sarah. “Going through that journey can only be described as painful, lonely and it seemed never ending. We went through many rounds a drug called Letrozole to try and improve our chances.” They paired research and testing as well to see if some knowledge could steer them into becoming parents. The rounds of drugs began to replay like a broken record all not producing them with the results they so desperately dreamt of. “Finally, in May 2017 we were able to get an appointment with a fertility clinic. Little did we know, it would be nearly a year before we would successfully become pregnant. It was shortly after the initial appointment that it was determined that Ryan would need to undergo a minor surgery in August 2017 in hopes to improve our chances to get pregnant.” By now the discouragement and fear crept into Sarah’s mind and began to consume her thoughts. Would she ever be a mother? Would they be able to become parents together as a couple? Was this meant to be?”

Sarah and Ryan relied on each other and stayed as hopeful as they could. “While we were waiting for Ryan’s surgery, we decided to try intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI is a treatment used in fertility that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus.” Hope was quickly restored but soon faded as they learned almost as quickly that the IUI could not be completed. “We were, once again, completely heartbroken. Our faith then landed on the surgery but soon after we learned the surgery was unsuccessful. We felt very defeated and lost a lot of hope for the future. It was at this point that we truly began to feel like parenthood wasn’t for us. As a couple, we focused on staying busy. It was almost that if we kept busy, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to think about it. Finally, in November 2017, we were placed on the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) list for February. Scared, elated, unsure with wavering confidence, both Sarah and Ryan faced an ‘uncertain time in their life’.

The passion to have a family continued and time seemed to be speeding past. “February came quicker than I was prepared for,” Sarah recalls.
“Those 3 weeks of my life were, and still are, a complete blur. I do not wish that on anyone. At that time, those were the hardest weeks I would ever face (little did I know what would later come). For someone who is terrified of needles, the idea of having to give myself 4-6 injections a day seemed impossible. It’s amazing what you can do when you are determined. Those weeks involved countless injections, spending weeks in the city for constant monitoring, and constantly being uncomfortable. I was not able to sleep, eat or live my regular life. The fresh transfer at that time was unsuccessful. In April 2017, we decided that we would try a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) and that we would transfer two embryos.” Finally the next day Sarah new she was pregnant. “I knew I was pregnant,” she happily recalls.  
“I had pings and twinges and eight days later (before any confirmation), I had extreme nausea. I knew I was finally pregnant!”
After years of ups and downs the transfer was successful and they did conceive twins. Unfortunately the couple wasn’t done facing adversity and after a few short weeks it was confirmed that they had lost one of the babies. “That was hard,” explained Sarah.  “It felt like I wasn’t allowed to acknowledge or to grieve the loss of one. Many people responded with, ‘but your still pregnant, Sarah! That’s what matters.’ It did matter to us.” The couple supported one another through the loss and continued to focus on the remaining child they had hoped for for so long.

Finally after about 40 hours of labour, on January 15th, Bodhi Barry Sklapsky was born. A beautiful baby boy. Ryan and Sarah were elated but Sarah would be faced with an extra struggle when it came to healing. Just days after Bodhi’s birth a surgery was needed to repair damage from delivery and more nights spent in the hospital. “I constantly had to remind myself that, in this moment, the most important thing was understanding that I needed to take those first weeks of Bodhi’s life and focus on my health and recovery so that I could be the best Mom to him as he grew,” said Sarah.
“It was hard. Very hard. I struggled with getting out of my head and not letting my thoughts overcome me. There was very much a day to day focus that needed to happen. I also learned to celebrate the small things that I could do, when I was able to do them – carry him across a room, stand to change/dress him, make a meal, load the dishwasher, leave the house independently with and without Bodhi, and finally, walking and using my carrier to hold him.”

Now months post natal Sarah continues to work with health care professionals to recover from delivery while focusing on being a new mother. The journey didn’t come easily or without pain but Ryan and Sarah have stayed focused on each other and strong for their son. They give endless credit to our medical community in Lloydminster for supporting and guiding them on their entire journey to parenthood and they both are quick to agree it was certainly “worth it!”

Finding Light After the Darkness

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When Teneil first met her future husband Craig, he had a daughter from a previous relationship and she was amazed at how fast she grew to love that child as her own. Being a stepmother with a blended family came easy to her. She had always loved children and youth and went to university to become a teacher.

She was excited to become a mother herself when she found out she was pregnant, even though Teneil and Craig’s lives were going through changes at a rapid speed. After getting married in June 2006, she resigned her teaching position in Edmonton and the newlywed couple moved to a small town in rural Alberta. A month later they found out they were expecting their first child together.

At first, Teneil was elated at the possibility of a new life growing inside of her, but quickly it turned into uncertainty, fear and guilt as the pregnancy turned to high risk. After the ultrasound, the doctor gave the devastating news that there was the possibility of the baby being born unhealthy or with a disability. The specialist then talked about termination.  For Craig and Teneil, that wasn’t an option, but it left Teneil feeling like there was something she could have done to prevent this and the fault was hers, and hers alone.

Obviously, that wasn’t the case, but women often feel the unnecessary burden of responsibility when their baby is under stress or a question of a disorder is found in utero. “The fear, shame, guilt of not doing a good job was an umbrella I lived under.”  She remembers feeling broken and being extremely hard on herself, but it was a sentiment that she kept to herself because she felt like she needed to be grateful that she could even get pregnant when others couldn’t. Internally she was in anguish. “There was a night, I surrendered to God in prayer. Craig held me sobbing as I tried to convince God that I had love to heal this baby if I was only given a chance.”

In a follow-up ultrasound later in September, much to Teneil’s relief she felt her prayers had been answered. The doctors determined that the baby had signs of healthy, normal development, however the pregnancy was still high risk.

Early on in her third trimester, Teneil and her sister attended a funeral in Saskatchewan, when suddenly she started hemorrhaging and was rushed to a nearby hospital when she went into to preterm labor. Her baby boy, Russell, was born through an emergency cesarean section on December 13, 2006, without Craig by her side to support her.

What was already a stressful situation was made worse by having to navigate a difficult out-of-province healthcare system when a Saskatoon neonatal intensive care would not take the baby. Russell had to be transferred to a Red Deer hospital that could care for him until he became stronger and was safe to go home.

The high risk of pregnancy, chaos of Russell’s birth and her son suddenly being transferred hours away from her home in unstable condition, took a toll on Teneil’s well being and mental health. She felt herself pull away from everyone and become isolated and withdrawn. She didn’t want visitors while she was in the hospital caring for her son and found herself rejecting any support that had been offered. She knew something was wrong, however her fear that something would happen to Russell and the guilt that she had something to do with the traumatic pregnancy and birth were all consuming.

“[I felt] rage, isolation, and worthlessness which all grew from the same seed of fear. I was afraid my baby wouldn’t be healthy and took on the guilt of being the cause of it.  I was afraid I would begin to resent my baby for not being healthy, easy and perfect. I was afraid I was a terrible mother for thinking both of those things. I was afraid my husband would blame me for the ‘imperfect’ baby that was my responsibility to bring into this world in the perfect way. I was afraid my family would try to help or try not to help.  I was afraid no one would understand why I no longer wanted to be a mother since I was failing so miserably. I was afraid my baby would die.”

She recalls Craig being like “Super-Dad” in the hospital ward, and helping Teneil care for Russell because at times, she was afraid she would hurt him because Russell was so fragile and delicate.

After a month-long stay in the neonatal ward, Russell was strong enough to go home. Everyone around Teneil was so excited, but her anxiety and depression were getting worse and she doubted her ability as a mother.

When Craig and Teneil came home with Russell, Teneil didn’t leave the house and isolated herself further. She also was struggling with breastfeeding and felt shame over having to supplement with formula. “I was terrified that the health nurse would find out I had supplemented, and feeling rage about feeling the need to lie about struggling with breastfeeding. I got lucky.  I got lucky because my nurse saw behind the mask I wore out in public, the mask that hid my quivering lip and teary eyes – the mask that I shamefully, yet desperately wore to get myself out of the house. That nurse, on that day, had me fill out the questionnaire that screened for postpartum depression. I knew this was my chance. I gouged the paper with deep sadness that most always communicated itself through anger.”  She pauses and remembers a time where rage and sadness were the only emotions she felt. “I get so choked up thinking about this moment – but I am so thankful. That was the beginning of finding my way out of the dark.” It was that moment where she decided to not hide anymore. She decided to go to counseling and eventually go on antidepressants to help regulate her mood.

For Teneil, finding her way out of the darkness has been a long arduous process of self-discovery, full of letting go and learning to have self-compassion and to love herself as a woman and as a mother. Eventually, she began to learn to trust in herself again and sadness and anger made way for joy and contentment.

When she became pregnant again with her second son she was prepared. She was much more willing to ask for help and was aware of the signs of postpartum depression. The same nurse that first screened her for postpartum depression with Russell was waiting on her doorstep to offer her support and to assess for early signs of depression and anxiety when she came home with her second baby. She says that support and encouragement were invaluable.

Teneil is honest with her emotions and her experiences now in hopes to help others struggling. She now knows there can light that can come out of even the most darkest of days. She has found recovery and peace in listening to her body and finding different modalities that have worked for her.

“To be honest, I’m still healing.” She says. “I accept our birthing process was not my fault, I have made peace with being okay that the [first year of Russell’s life] was not happy for me and that was helped by counseling and going on antidepressants. However, there’s still a darkness within me sometimes that I’m learning to embrace with counseling, yoga and mediation. That without darkness the light would not visible. The key is asking for help. I could not ask politely. I screamed, punch holes in walls, raged in isolation. But it cannot be healed without support”  

Teneil has been an advocate for women and mother’s learning to accept themselves. “We have to be there for each other and listen without judgment or ill intentions. We have to stop the judgment that is born out of pain and really show up for our sisters. There is so much healing when women come together”

 

The My Why Team would like to thank Teniel Quinn for participating in The Mother Series. A partnership with the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation for Project Sunrise.

Second Chances

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A young mom of two, April Moffat had already been through life with a newborn when she brought her second baby home. With Eden, her first, she had typical baby blues that went away and things went smoothly, but with Willow things were drastically different.
Without warning, April and her husband Marty were thrown into a long, unwelcome and unexpected journey.

After a difficult pregnancy, early birth and countless complications, April was already at risk for Postpartum Depression when they welcomed Willow, April 17, 2014.
Having already been through the first year at home with a new baby, April wasn’t too concerned about PPD however, it hit her and her husband harder than she ever thought possible. “There were days I had to fight for the will to live,” she explained.
“It was a very dark place. I had anxiety which led to waking up everyday with panic attacks. Sleep was almost impossible at the beginning and I actually experienced psychosis and am sad to say attempted suicide. It’s very hard to share that.”
At first April felt ashamed and hid her confusing and overwhelming reality from many family members and friends.

Unfortunately, Marty noticed the changes but didn’t know what was going on at first.
Once a family member pointed out that April’s condition might need medical attention, Marty realized that rather than pulling away from her, April’s mood changes were an illness and an opportunity to support.
“It’s not easy seeing someone you love experience such dark and depressive state,” he said. “I wanted to help her feel better but it seemed that while she could acknowledge something positive she could only experience the negative. I didn’t blame her for any of this as though she had done something wrong or that she simply needed an attitude adjustment. I knew that she was not herself.” April credits much of her recovery and understanding of how PPD continues to impact her life from the support she has been given by her husband and to their faith.

Marty continued, “In my vows to her in marriage I removed any such conditions as in sickness and health. Furthermore I believe in the law of Christ where Jesus said, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Obviously it’s not always easy and I would have never imagined we would both experience so much pain and darkness throughout this trial in our marriage. With all of this there was a lot of pressure, Pressure to meet people’s assessment of whether I was handling the situation properly And pressure not become depressed myself. Sadly, I can’t say I was successful in any regard.“But that’s just how life goes sometimes and a person just needs to be able to rise above their current circumstances, let the feelings pass and do the right thing especially when it’s hard.”
The couple looks back at those trying times as a stepping stone to strengthen their relationship and now the wants to share their story with others.

April now writes open and candidly on a blog to support others going through similar experiences and emotions in hopes that sharing her story will inspire others to ask for help and reach out for support. Fortunately through the will to live and support of loved ones she reached out to doctors to start the daunting journey of finding the right antidepressants. During the first six months, April struggled to get out of bed each day.
“Minutes felt like hours and days would drag on and on,” she recalls. “The first thing I noticed was I didn’t sleep well. My concentration became very blurry and it felt like I was in a deep brain fog. Since in recovery, I am so glad to say I am still here to raise my precious daughters and be a wife today. Many days I wondered if I’d ever be the same again, and the truth is you really never are, your experience changes you. It makes you find who you are truly meant to be. It helps you to find strength from the depths of despair. For me, that strength came from God. In all honesty, I’d do it all over again to have my daughter Willow, she has been worth the fight.” And, that is just how April describes the recovery process from PPD, a continual fight. “You learn to advocate for yourself until you feel like ‘you’ again. During my times of despair when I didn’t feel I could go on, I am so grateful for my husband, and the friends and family who helped lighten the load for us in so many ways. Although very difficult, the fight for my mental health has been worth it. Now that I’m recovering I’ve learned how important prayer, diet and lifestyle is for your mental health.”

Not only has April, bounced back but she has bounced forward stating, “I can honestly say this is the best I’ve felt since before I got sick. I’m so grateful!” If you would like to follow more of April’s journey you can check out her blog: The Mental Health Mama @https://thementalhealthmomma.wordpress.com. The My Why Team would like to thank April and her family for participating in The Mother Series. A partnership with the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation for Project Sunrise. Written by Jessie Mann and Kristen Traverse.

 

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