Effective, empathic therapy to support recovery from perinatal or postpartum mood disorders
From Sylvia Lasalandra Frodella - Community Outreach Director
Sylvia Lasalandra Frodella
On the Loss of Miriam Carey
Postpartum takes another life and robs the soul of her one year old daughter…
Today my heart is heavy because we lost another mother to postpartum depression; an illness that affects over 850,000 women each year in the United States alone. Yet often it is a condition dismissed as hormonal with the thought she’ll get over it in time. How many more women need to suffer or do the unthinkable before our nation responds to postpartum mood disorders as the incapacitating and sometimes lethal illnesses they are?
This week alone I received 3 calls from people seeking help for their loved ones who are suffering with postpartum mood disorders.
Miriam Carey a 34 year old mom was shot to death yesterday trying to ram her vehicle into the gates of the White House while her one year old daughter sat in the back seat. Can you imagine the depth of her pain as a preventable illness directed her brain to crash her car through the barricades?
Every time I hear news like this I’m dragged back to the dark abyss of 13 years ago as I again contemplate how very close I came to doing the unimaginable as thoughts beyond my control attempted to dominate my actions. Today I sit home and shed the very same tears I shed 13 years ago, but not for me…for a complete stranger who felt that the pain and darkness was too much for her to bear any longer. Alien thoughts prompted a misguided solution which ended her life.
In 2013, I wanted to believe that we had overcome the stigma that postpartum mood disorders can bring. Apparently we haven’t. It pains me to see that there’s still women who are suffering alone and are too afraid and ashamed to ask for help. In 2010 I stood alongside U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Former First Lady of New Jersey; Mary Jo Codey, Brooke Shields and Susan Dowd Stone LCSW, to celebrate the passage of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, a wonderful initiative to combat perinatal mood disorders.
The law institutes a comprehensive federal commitment to combating postpartum depression through awareness, new research, education initiatives and voluntarily support service programs. However, today I am confronted with the ugly fact that it is not enough! WE NEED TO DO MORE!
I’m saddened and distraught that Miriam Carey fell alone.
Today I write to all of you who are suffering from postpartum depression and are too afraid, anxious, terrified and ashamed to ask for help:
You’re not alone. I feel you and I hear you…
If you have recently given birth and are searching websites late into the night – sleepless yet again and searching for answers – you may be experiencing what feels like the worst time in your life. Ironic isn't it that the birth of your child may have resulted in feelings that are less than blissful?
We know you moms are out there, feeling lonely and afraid and unsure of where to go from here. First it's vital to know that you’re NOT alone, you’re NOT to blame and with help, you WILL get better! This is something I wish I had known at the time of my darkest days suffering with postpartum depression. I gave birth to a beautiful healthy girl named Melina in 2000. She was so very perfect in every way (and still is). However, my heart was filled with overwhelming fear, sadness, loneliness and depression.
She was undoubtedly the most beautiful gift from God that I had ever received. But, I would sit in my room quietly and ask him if he would take the astonishing gift back or find a home that was filled with love. I remember thinking that, I will never get better, so what’s the point of keeping her? My husband Michael was suffering along side of me, trying to make sense of this then nameless illness that had robbed him of his wife and Melina of her mother.
The birth of my daughter should have been the happiest day of my life, but it felt as if my life had just ended. I spent 5 days in the hospital and during those 5 day’s I never held her, fed her or changed her. I even spoke to one of the nurses about adoption. Her first 9 months she lived at my parent’s house. I could barely take care of myself, how could I expect to take care of this small little being. I also had the most sickening and intrusive thoughts of not only harming myself, but harming my daughter.
I lost the first 9 months of my daughter’s life. At times when I’m dusting photos of my daughter taken by my mother or my husband in the first 9 months of her life, I break down and sob. I sob because I couldn’t be there for her and share her first smile, her first cries. If it weren’t for those precious photos, the truth is, I wouldn’t have any recollection or memories of her first months on this planet.
Melina is now 13 and she is the lifeline to my heart. There’s no one I can possibly love more than my precious Melina. She doesn’t care that I didn’t change her, feed her or hold her for the first 5 days of her life. She doesn’t even care that she spent 9 months living at my parent’s house. The only thing she really cares about is having her mommy around and being loved by her mommy. The truth is, I always loved her. From the moment I gave birth to her, I loved her. I just could not feel that love because I was suffering from a very real, a very debilitating and disgusting illness called postpartum depression. It is my greatest honor and joy that I am her mother, guardian, nurturer and protector. And that I can feel my attachement to her and hers to me.
The truth is… POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION SUCKS!! I can’t and won’t sugar coat what I truly feel about an illness that wreaked total havoc and chaos in my life, my husbands’ life and my family’s life. Trust me, I can choose quite a few colorful words on how I really feel about postpartum depression, but I need to have some decorum!
Every woman experiences postpartum illness differently – some can’t sleep at all, some sleep too much, some are agitated, some are very sad, so please don’t compare yourself to others and think either, I’m not so bad, or, I am worse than she is. You know yourself and if you’re not yourself, please, please, please get help NOW. Please don’t give up! I know you feel lost inside and I know you want to be heard; well…I can hear you, I can feel you and I understand you but please; DON’T GIVE UP! SPEAK UP!
I know you’re sitting reading this and feeling as if you will not be able to get through the despair that postpartum depression brings, but with the right help, you can be well again. Through my words in this letter, please know my arms are embracing you and your very heavy heart with the hug of universal motherhood.
Though we may never meet, I know you.And you know me.
I hope this letter soothes your heart, but don’t let it end there. Please, please, call and reach out for help. Postpartum Support International has an 800 number you can call RIGHT NOW 1-800-944-4773 and find help in your state. In addition to that, PSI offers a free and anonymous Mom’s Chat’s every Wednesday (www.postpartum.net) which you can join from the privacy of your own home. Don’t let another day go by enduring suffering that can turn to recovery. YOU ARE NOT ALONE; YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME and WITH HELP, you WILL BE WELL.
As I think of Miriam’s one year old daughter, whose mother was taken in front of her tiny angelic eyes and must now face a lonely aching life without her mother, I can’t help but think of a song sung by Josh Groban titled; Lullaby
Hush now baby don't you cry Rest your wings my butterfly Peace will come to you in time And I will sing this lullaby
Know though I must leave, my child That I would stay here by your side And if you wake before I'm gone Remember this sweet lullaby
And all love through darkness Don't you ever stop believing With love forlorn With love you'll find your way My love
The world has turned the day to dark I leave this night with heavy heart When I return to dry your eyes I will sing this lullaby