Even with the love Michael felt for his wife, postpartum depression was something that was difficult at first to understand.
“I had never heard about it. When it was introduced to me, I actually had to write it down because even the words were very unfamiliar to me,” he said.
Working beyond the hours of full time as both a chef and restaurant owner, Michael was stretched thin by the responsibilities of work and home. The couple was in the process of opening a second restaurant when Melina was born. But after the birth, Sylvia was constantly near the breaking point. So Michael had a heavy responsibility.
"You just have to appease her and make her feel better, so she comes out of that dark hole that she's in. Like sending a rope down so you can pull her out, just a little bit, so she can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Michael fought his feelings of selfishness and sadness over his wife's mental illness, that they weren't able to live with their newborn daughter and that his family life wasn’t the picture-perfect story that he expected.
"There's this piece where you have to be an actor, where you know you have hurt inside and you know your wife's hurt, but you have to be the stronger one," he said."When things aren't well at home, you feel depressed and you feel trapped and now where do you go?"
Medicine, therapy and support were crucial to Sylvia's recovery. Michael's role was to just be there, constantly letting Sylvia know that his love for her was strong.
“You really have to ... embrace her and tell her you love her and that you’re behind her and that whatever it takes to make her better that you're going to do it," he said. "She will never get better unless you give her the support.”
Michael says more awareness of postpartum depression is needed, but says that information for husbands is still limited.
“I don’t think enough men come out and speak about (postpartum depression) so other men can relate to how to ... be a husband while your whole family life is going crazy.”
Michael's Video | Michael's Video Transcript | Sylvia's Story (Michael's wife) | Sylvia's Video | Sylvia's Video Transcript