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PPD Survivors Tell Their Stories
Adrienne Richardson’s postpartum depression nearly ruined her marriage and nearly ended her life.
She had a planned pregnancy and was excited to be a new mother, but after bringing her son home from the hospital, she knew something was wrong. She tried to shrug it off, blaming her problems on her baby’s illnesses or her husband, but the feelings and thoughts didn’t get better.
“It escalated, and I was crying and I would constantly think, I just want to die, I don’t want to deal with this,” she said. “Every single day I wished I was dead.”
Adrienne’s depression grew until she had near-constant thoughts of hurting either herself or her baby. Those thoughts eventually turned into physical violence against her husband, who recognized that something was wrong. He contacted her doctor who suggested that she might be suffering from postpartum depression. The doctor presribed medication and got Adrienne the help she needed.
“By the time my son was 9 months old I began to feel the feelings I should as a mom, I loved him with all my heart, and I finally fell in love with my child,” she said. “But it nearly ruined my marriage, and nearly ended my life. I want to educate women and tell them it’s not their fault, you’re not a horrible person, and you’re not alone.”
Adrienne founded South Jersey MOM Magazine to reach out to other mothers. In the magazine she regularly discusses postpartum depression as well as other mothers’ issues.
She also recently told her story as part of a survivors’ panel at a New Jersey Department of Health training event. “On the Front Lines of Perinatal Mood Disorders” was held May 27 and presented healthcare professionals with the most up-to-date research and information on mental health issues that affect pregnant women and new mothers.
Four postpartum depression sufferers, including former first lady Mary Jo Codey, spoke about the grief, sorrow and pain that PPD brought to their lives. Mrs. Codey is the unofficial face of the postpartum depression awareness movement in New Jersey and was also the inspiration for some of the women on the panel.
Years after her recovery, Connie Bonillas heard Mary Jo Codey speak about PPD on the radio and was relieved to discover she wasn’t alone.
“Realizing that other women experienced it and to know that you’re not alone, I got comfort in that,” she said.
Connie described her harrowing ordeal with PPD, including daily visions of her baby’s death. She spoke of the shame she felt from the thoughts and the further sadness of isolating herself from her baby and her family.
“I knew what I had, but it felt so shameful that you don’t want to believe that you’re experiencing it,” she said.
Each of the survivors said that she wished her PPD had been detected earlier so she didn’t miss such a significant period in her baby’s life.
For Nancy Sanchez, the joy she thought she would feel with her daughter turned into constant worry. She described visions of her daughter sick and hooked up to various machines in the hospital. They continued to get worse until they eventually turned into visions of her daughter dying. Finally, Nancy called her OBGYN who immediately referred her to a psychiatrist.
“It took me a long time to admit that I can’t get through this by myself,” she said.
“The one thing that healthcare providers can do is get out and help people get therapy as soon as possible because once you lose that precious time you don’t get it back,” she said.
This remains one of the toughest hurdles to overcome with postpartum depression, a woman’s ability to recognize that she is suffering and to seek help. Healthcare professionals need to educate women about postpartum depression and tell them where they can seek help so they can “Speak Up When They’re Down.”
“I need you to know that you have a role to play to help women, to make sure that it doesn’t have to go as long as it did for me,” Connie said.
Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
Last Modified: Thursday, 12-Jul-12 11:44:57