Thursday, July 7, 2016

A loss...

A week ago today, I was out running errands, and I had left my phone in the car. When we got back to the car, I had a string of text messages from a group of high school friends. Another friend of ours from high school had died earlier in the week, after fighting a hidden battle with postpartum depression, leaving behind her husband and her four month old daughter. This was a text message no one wants to see.

Allison was a friend I hadn't seen or even spoken to in years, but we had kept up through out the years over facebook. Allison was the kind of girl that was the definition of kindness or confidence. She was so smart, passionately loved Jesus, athletic, a strong leader....the kind of person you'd be proud to call your friend or daughter or sister. She was our school's SCA president when we were seniors, and she went on to be a part of ROTC at Clemson University, and then became an elementary school teacher. All of her friends on facebook have commented on how they will never forget her smile or laugh, and I too would agree with that one hundred precent. She was always so happy.

At a football game during our senior year

I share all of these little tidbits about what I remember of her, not to only honor the kind of person she was, but to show that postpartum depression can take ahold of anyone. It is almost impossible for me to think that someone who shone the kind of light that Allison did, could be swept into the darkness that could only come from PPD. It is heartbreaking for me to think about the place that she must have been in. To feel so alone and so isolated as a new mom.  I think we have all heard of PPD, and the extreme cases where a mom takes her own life, but we all assume, that it won't happen to us or someone we know, but I don't think I'll ever take it that lightly again. It is a real disease and it needs to be talked about.

If you know a mom with a new baby (really, any mom who has had a baby in the last year!), check in with her. Ask how she is feeling. And then listen. Show her you care. Take her a meal, stop by with coffee for her, offer to watch her kids for just an hour so she can go out for a pedicure or a run by herself. If you're far away, set aside time to talk with her on the phone. Send her a card. Order delivery pizza for her.  There is a fear of being stigmatized for saying we are struggling, or that we're not as happy as we "should" be with a beautiful and healthy baby at home. If you have a friend who does reach out to you, LISTEN to her and offer hope and help. Many women show the typical signs of PPD, but not everyone does and some suffer alone. If you are a new mom and something just seems "off,"please talk to your loved ones or your doctor. Just tell someone. There is power in our words. Allison is remembered by so many as one exuded joy. If PPD can effect someone like her, it can change the live of anyone.

We love you Allison. The world was a better place because of you.

7 comments:

  1. Rachel I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for shedding light on this - maybe it will help someone out going through the same thing, or inspire someone to reach out.

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  2. The picture of her with her daughter sends chills and sadness through my body. I don't know her but I do know her. She is just like any of us and it's heartbreaking. I'm so sad for her and how alone she felt and I'm so sad for those she left -- I can't begin to imagine the pain of everyone in her family.

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  3. Oh my gosh. I am trying so hard not to cry. This breaks my heart. I had post-partum anxiety after both kids but luckily never had it this bad. I had a friend with PPD that was also put in a hospital it got so bad. It just breaks my heart that moms suffer through this and especially in silence. With Trent I didn't want to acknowledge that anything was wrong and it took me so much strength to finally be willing to take medication and see a doctor. With Drew, I knew I would get better so it was easier to say I needed help. I think part of the problem is so many moms don't realize what is wrong - you are just trying to get through every day and not realizing how severe/unusual those feelings are. I am so, so sorry for your loss - I look at the precious baby girl and just want to cry. Thanks for writing this post - if even 1 person reads it and learns something from it, maybe it will make Allison's suffering a little less. Hugs from Texas for you!

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  4. So sorry for your loss and for their loss. May we all love each other and raise each other up into the light more and more.

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  5. Rachel, what a hard loss. Thank you for sharing your friend's story. Giving a voice to PPD is so critical and makes it less of a foreign concept for those of us who have dealt with it or for those who love one who has. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  6. I've been thinking about this a lot lately since I saw your FB post. This is so sad and I am so sorry! But I am also glad you are speaking out about PPD because it is real and so tragic! I don't think I ever had it full-blown but definitely dealt with some major anxiety and baby blues with Ella, and I still really appreciate you reaching out and bringing me food and meeting us for coffee!! Means more than you know! :)

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  7. Oh, this hurts my heart. I'm so sorry for your loss, Rachel.

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