Nancy, Advocacy Video
Speaker: In previous interviews, you talk a lot about how youíre a private person, can you talk a little bit about why you decided to speak publicly about your experience with postpartum depression?
Nancy: I think one of the main reasons why I decided to talk about it was, I didnít want people to live with it the way I was living for a couple years. Once I was, I suffered with the postpartum prior to actually being diagnosed with it, but I lived in silence for a very, very long time. And itís almost like you have this black cloud over your head and youíre suffering alone and there is no one technically there to help because nobody knows what youíre going through. So I think that was with the campaign it really made me think a lot that there are people out there going through this and Iím not alone. And you donít want to do this by yourself. You canít do this by yourself. This is something that you need your friends and your family to help you get through it. And I think doing this alone doesnít help you heal. Youíre always going to suffer and youíre always going to wonder and youíre always going to worry what people are going to think if they did ever find out about it. And this is just something that you shouldnít have to do alone, you shouldnít do alone and you should never be ashamed. There is no reason why you canít talk about it and bring it out in the open and try to help other people.
Speaker: Was the shame and the fear, was that your actual biggest fear about coming forward?
Nancy: Absolutely, absolutely, especially with the field that Iím in and working with postpartum moms and pregnant moms every day I was ashamed. I didnít know what my co-workers would think, with me going through it. I didnít know how their reaction was going to be, what my family and friends would think. And at first, knowing that I deal with this pretty much day in and day out, I have been doing this a very long time it, taking care of these moms, it almost felt like, what did I do wrong? Was there something I could have picked up? Was there something I could have done differently? Was it something that I did? You know itís always that doubt, that uncertainty and in that guilt, and in that shame, and I really didnít want people thinking that, you know, I donít want to use that word, I was going to say crazy but I donít want to use that word. Can we do that again? Iím sorry.
A lot of it was the guilt and the shame and a lot of it had to do with me as a person. I do work with pregnant moms, before and after pregnancy, and you know, itís just the person I am and this is what I do for a living. I should know better, I should know what Iím doing and how to diagnose and pick up on it. And you know the person that I am, Iím a strong person I should be able to deal with this, this is something I can get over, I can do it by myself. I can take care of this on my own. I donít need to go to see a physician. I donít need to take any medications. I can do this, you know, Iím a tough cookie, thereís no reason why I canít do this.
And then when I realized that I couldnít do it and I had to get the help and I needed to do this for me and my daughter just to even go on daily. I had to do it and you know the longer I waited, the more shame and guilt I had in not coming out sooner.
Speaker: Obviously, I know you coming out has had an effect on not only you, but the people surrounding you, how has your speaking up affected your relationship with your family, co-workers and friends?
Nancy: Itís almost like they were going through the grieving process as well when they found out. They came to me and they were like, why didnít you tell me? We were here for you and we could have helped you through it. There was nothing for you to be ashamed of. It was almost like they were saddened that I had to do this by myself. The help is there. Itís just a matter of speaking up and getting the help. There are a lot of my friends and family couldnít believe it because I hid it so well. And in the beginning it was almost like they couldnít believe it. She came to work every day, she did what she had to do and she went home and she took wonderful care of her daughter, but behind the scenes I was just breaking down. It took them awhile once I spoke about it and, the campaign, and the conference, it really enlightened them. They were like, we were here for you, all you had to do was ask us and we would have helped you.
Speaker: How has speaking up affected your outlook on the illness?
Nancy: Itís a true illness and itís not in your head as people think it is. Itís something that you go through and you experience and you do need the help. You cannot do this on your own. And I learned firsthand you cannot do this on your own. You do need the help whether itís just therapy, whether itís a combination of therapy and medication, you do need the help. The campaign alone is just remarkable. If it wasnít for the campaign, I donít think I would have gotten through the next step of really, truly accepting the fact that I did have postpartum depression.
Speaker: At the PPD event last May, you met with a few other PPD survivors. How did it feel to hear their stories and meet them face-to-face?
Nancy: For me, personally, it was very reassuring to know that I was not alone. Even though I know that a lot of women go through it, you still think itís just affecting you. And to know that a lot of women of all different calibers go through it, itís not, it doesnít discriminate. And you know any woman Ė young, old, first-time mom, moms that have several kids -- you can go through it. And it really, it was really reassuring to me and it almost felt like again, here I am in therapy again because everybody was consoling each other, we talked about it and talking about it is the best therapy, just to get yourself through it every day. And I still talk about it daily, as much as I can because you still deal with it that you went through it.
Speaker: If you would have heard the stories of other women going through PPD during the time that you were going through it, do you think you would have went for help sooner or said hey somethingís wrong I need help?
Nancy: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that with the campaign and seeing the commercials and a few of the celebrities talking about it, it really helped me come to the point where this is something I really want to do and focus on it and help others and along the way it will help myself as well. And if it wasnít for that, I donít think I would be speaking up about it. It would be something that stayed dear to me and I donít think anybody would know other than the few people that did know.
Speaker: I know you work with pregnant women and new moms every day. Has embracing an advocacy role changed the way you approach and how you work with new mothers who might be experiencing or showing signs of emotional issues or those who may be having a high-risk pregnancy or delivery?
Nancy: I have really become more sensitive and I have really become more focused on really listening to them because behind, in between the lines they are reaching out for help and sometimes it takes a certain person that can truly listen and sit there and really look into their eyes. And they are reaching out for help and a lot of times moms give up. They may be reaching out for help but nobodyís truly listening. And they think that this is just something they are going through, theyíre going to get over it and then they just stop. They just let go. And I really believe that a lot of people do try to reach out, but I donít think people in general are truly listening and seeing the signs and the symptoms and I think thatís key right there.
Speaker: That just actually makes me wonder about your staff. When you learned about the campaign did you go back to your staff and, I know some were probably at the training event, and I was wondering if you talked to them at all about helping them to listen more closely or pay more attention to some of the warning signs?
Nancy: I think the staff in general did a complete turnaround and they have become completely, become a lot more sensitive to the moms. And when they perform the Edinburgh scoring, they become a lot more sensitive. And I think it really hit home to them and a lot of them it was an eye opener to them because I did deliver at the hospital. I did go through my postpartum blues at the hospital and nobody picked up on it. And I think now with them knowing that I went through it and them understanding what I went through, they have really become sticklers about the scoring system and getting the moms the help that they need.
Speaker: How could other survivors benefit from speaking up? And do you think coming forward and speaking publicly about your story, if thatís helped with your healing process? I know you kind of touched on that. Do you think other survivors could benefit from talking about their experience?
Nancy: Absolutely, because I think if you speak about it youíre going to know somebody whoís going through it -- a friend, a friend of a friend. And I think speaking up and letting people know, youíre not alone. You may know somebody thatís going through it and then you are speaking to somebody and, oh, my friend is going through this, or my sister is going through this, or my wife is going through this. And do you think you can speak to her? And I think outreach is very, very important. And I think itís the first step, one of the many steps that you can do is really speaking up Ė I think for me personally speaking up about it has really gotten me to that point where I am really at ease with it. Iím not ashamed anymore. I can move on and work through it and continue to work through because like I said, itís a process and itís an area, you donít forget and you always carry that guilt of what you went through. But the more you speak about it, the more you work though it, it makes it easier, it really does.
Speaker: What is your advice to women who may be hesitant about talking about their PPD?
Nancy: Donít be. Talk about it. Thatís the best thing you can do for you, your family, your children and people you may know that may be going through and still suffering in silence.
Speaker: What were your thoughts the first time you saw your testimonial video?
Nancy: I cried. It really, for keeping it inside for such a long time, it almost, like I said before, it almost felt like I was doing this alone but speaking out it really enlightened me that, yes I got through it. I did it. I got through it and you know I am here to talk about it. And I am here to talk about my daughter and how sheís growing and I donít know where I would have been if I didnít get the help and I donít know if I would be sitting here talking about it. So I think, just talking about it and trying to help people really helped me to believe I did it, I got through it. And I think, if I did it, anyone else can do it.
Speaker: Has anyone ever recognized you from the event you participated in last May or from your video or even when you did the interview for Fox?
Nancy: Yes, a couple people did, actually in the supermarket, came over to me and they just looked at me, and I saw you were on TV and they were like, thank you, my sister went through it.
Speaker: How did that make you feel?
Nancy: I got the chills. It was unbelievable for them to just say thank you. It meant a lot, it really did.
Speaker: Do you tell when youíre treating someone and you think that they have it and they say, no, Iím fine, everythingís great, do you actually tell them, well I went through it and this is how I know what youíre going through and youíre not OK?
Nancy: Yes, absolutely, I would touch on especially with them being in the hospital the first few days, I would touch on the baby blues and I would tell them and I would try to make it funny so itís not so, it is a serious thing, but I would try to make it funny to get them comfortable, to try to talk about it. And a few people that I have done that to, the next day they would tell their physician, I really need to get someone in here, I donít feel good right about now. And sure enough, with the consultation, they would go home with couseling and some therapy. And they would just leave and say, thank you. And I would check up on them every day if they were there. But I do talk about it and I do tell them. And a lot of times the nurses will come to me, can you go talk to this mom? We really think thereís something wrong and we need somebody to go in there and try to get her to open up a little bit. Because a lot of times itís cultural, they donít want to talk about it, just the fear of talking about it and the fear of maybe the baby might stay in the hospital. That to me was a big fear for myself along with the stigma, will they keep my daughter? Even though I knew nursing-wise, I knew that that wasnít going to happen or what they might think and so on and so forth, but there is always that fear and I think thatís what, you just have to ease them and if they knew someone was going through it or went through it, then a lot of times they do speak up a lot more.
Speaker: So if you want to either read this or kind of say it in your own words Ö
Nancy: I just want to say thank you for the Ö scratch that. I should just read it because Iím a little bit nervous. Iím going to start to cry again. See, itís been so many years and Iím still going to cry.
Speaker: Oh, you know what, you could even say that you want to share a little bit of an e-mail that you wrote about your participation in the campaign.
Nancy: OK, thatís better.
Nancy: I just wanted to read an e-mail that I did send to you regarding my personal feelings about the campaign. Just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you so much for the opportunity to continue to try to reach out to as many people as we can to help those experiencing or even those who experienced postpartum depression. It is my pleasure and honor to help with these efforts. If it wasnít for you and the ongoing efforts of the ďSpeak Up When Youíre DownĒ campaign, I donít know if I would be able to do this. You have given me the courage to face this and to help others. Thank you.
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