Help available for moms struggling with postpartum depression
“To the world we look like normal happy moms,” Dee Gemme Ottawa mom is talking about postpartum depression (PPD), her own experience, and the struggles of the many moms she’s encountered since.
Four years ago, when Dee gave birth to her little girl, Savannah, things did not go as planned. Labour didn’t progress as anticipated and an emergency caesarean section was required. After the baby arrived, everything seemed to go well, she says. Then it didn’t.
“I wasn’t sleeping. I was struggling with breastfeeding. I just wasn’t myself.”
Her PPD symptoms also included rage and irritability. “I wanted to run away,” she recalls. “I thought I had made a mistake.” The feelings of guilt were overwhelming.
At her six-week baby checkup, she told the doctor she wasn’t coping, and, fortunately, she was able to get help.
That’s not always the case. “A lot of people don’t reach out for help because they’re scared of the stigma.” However, she calls attention to the fact there are other moms, PPD survivors, ready to offer support and ready to lend a sympathetic ear “so you don’t feel like a freak.”
“Women need to know they’re not alone,” Dee says. If you are suffering or scared that you will be, she wants you to know this: “There is hope. You can get through this, with or without medication or therapy. It does get better.”
The peer-to-peer support is really powerful, this mom explains, “because it’s the only safe place a mom can go to without being judged and without having to worry.”
Besides, it can make a world of difference. Along with medical help, Dee credits peer support from Postpartum Progress for helping her overcome PPD. Postpartum Progress is a nonprofit organization that supports pregnant and new moms with PPD and related illnesses.
And now Dee’s paying it forward.
On behalf of Postpartum Progress in Ottawa, she’s hosting a fundraiser called Climb Out of the Darkness. It takes place June 20, on one of the longest days of the year, at the Mer Bleue Bog. Participants will gather at 10:30 a.m. for a hike through the bog at 11 a.m., followed by a BYO picnic lunch on site. Climb Out of the Darkness is the world’s largest event to raise awareness of PPD and related disorders; funds raised will benefit the nonprofit, with some of the proceeds going to local services that make a difference. See www.postpartumprogress.com.