Lissette's Postpartum Story

 

On Lissette’s first visit to Dr. Lisa Gagnon’s office, she felt extremely disheveled and told her, “I don’t think you can fix me, I’m broken.”

The SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women is an incredible event that pairs fundraising for women’s mental health with the benefits of activity on your mental health. It is a nation-wide event, currently held in 15 cities, all in support of local women’s mental health programs. In Calgary, the race supports Dr. Gagnon and her team at the Women’s Mental Health Clinic at Foothills Medical Centre, who have been an important part of mental health care for pregnant and postpartum women. 

Lissette, who had been a delivery nurse for 10 years, is one of the people whose life was forever changed by the Women’s Mental Health Clinic. Before experiencing postpartum depression, she explains, “I was the hub at home, I was the hub of our family, I was the go-to, the fixer. At work I was the champion, the charge nurse and was knowledgeable, so I didn’t see myself as a possible risk.” But that all changed when her daughter Stella was stillborn at full term. Shortly after, when Lissette found herself needing stitches because of incidents with self-harm, she knew that the grief she was experiencing was more than she would be able to deal with on her own.

When Dr. Gagnon promised she would eventually be herself again, Lissette couldn’t bring herself to believe it. Lisette’s postpartum depression manifested in her not being able to leave the house for a year. Having lost all faith in her decision making abilities, Lisette wasn’t able to perform simple tasks like going to the grocery store for milk. “During emergency codes at work, I was cool as a cucumber, so to stop in a parking lot and cry because I couldn’t park the car and have to go home was not me.” She also found herself losing patience with her older daughter in a way she never had before.

The help that Dr. Gagnon and the clinic provided included making a safety plan, regulating medication, referring Lissette to other professionals and working with her family and husband to understand how to support Lissette through this time. Managing the postpartum depression was increasingly important when Lissette became pregnant again and had to navigate the feelings and fear that came along with that experience.

It was eight months after her daughter, Isabelle, was born that Lissette started feeling like herself again. The help that she had received meant that she was able to return to work to a medical unit. Although in many ways Lissette felt as through her life was suspended for three and a half years, the experience provided invaluable learning for her and she hopes her story can also help others. “Going through it, I realized it could happen to anyone. I was a happy, well-adjusted person. I had overcome many things in life and was successful in my career, had a nice home. We can have it together and still develop postpartum depression. When I went back to work after mat leave, I was scared. Dr. Gagnon told me who I am hasn’t changed. The events that happened change how you cope, but they doesn’t change you.”

And her advice for people with a friend or family member facing postpartum depression? “Don’t give up on them. I pushed everyone away. Even if you know that you’re going to call for the tenth time and they say no I don’t want to go out for coffee that call means so much. It was those little things that reminded me I was still alive, and had a life outside the depression.”

On Lissette’s first visit to Dr. Lisa Gagnon’s office, she felt extremely disheveled and told her, “I don’t think you can fix me, I’m broken.”

The SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. Run for Women is an incredible event that pairs fundraising for women’s mental health with the benefits of activity on your mental health. It is a nation-wide event, currently held in 15 cities, all in support of local women’s mental health programs. In Calgary, the race supports Dr. Gagnon and her team at the Women’s Mental Health Clinic at Foothills Medical Centre, who have been an important part of mental health care for pregnant and postpartum women. 

Lissette, who had been a delivery nurse for 10 years, is one of the people whose life was forever changed by the Women’s Mental Health Clinic. Before experiencing postpartum depression, she explains, “I was the hub at home, I was the hub of our family, I was the go-to, the fixer. At work I was the champion, the charge nurse and was knowledgeable, so I didn’t see myself as a possible risk.” But that all changed when her daughter Stella was stillborn at full term. Shortly after, when Lissette found herself needing stitches because of incidents with self-harm, she knew that the grief she was experiencing was more than she would be able to deal with on her own.

When Dr. Gagnon promised she would eventually be herself again, Lissette couldn’t bring herself to believe it. Lisette’s postpartum depression manifested in her not being able to leave the house for a year. Having lost all faith in her decision making abilities, Lisette wasn’t able to perform simple tasks like going to the grocery store for milk. “During emergency codes at work, I was cool as a cucumber, so to stop in a parking lot and cry because I couldn’t park the car and have to go home was not me.” She also found herself losing patience with her older daughter in a way she never had before.

The help that Dr. Gagnon and the clinic provided included making a safety plan, regulating medication, referring Lissette to other professionals and working with her family and husband to understand how to support Lissette through this time. Managing the postpartum depression was increasingly important when Lissette became pregnant again and had to navigate the feelings and fear that came along with that experience.

It was eight months after her daughter, Isabelle, was born that Lissette started feeling like herself again. The help that she had received meant that she was able to return to work to a medical unit. Although in many ways Lissette felt as through her life was suspended for three and a half years, the experience provided invaluable learning for her and she hopes her story can also help others. “Going through it, I realized it could happen to anyone. I was a happy, well-adjusted person. I had overcome many things in life and was successful in my career, had a nice home. We can have it together and still develop postpartum depression. When I went back to work after mat leave, I was scared. Dr. Gagnon told me who I am hasn’t changed. The events that happened change how you cope, but they doesn’t change you.”

And her advice for people with a friend or family member facing postpartum depression? “Don’t give up on them. I pushed everyone away. Even if you know that you’re going to call for the tenth time and they say no I don’t want to go out for coffee that call means so much. It was those little things that reminded me I was still alive, and had a life outside the depression.”