As the search for the missing New Westminster mother, possibly suffering from postpartum depression, has been suspended Thursday afternoon, another mother is speaking out about the challenges of dealing with the little-understood condition.
Thirty-two-year-old Florence Leung went missing on Tuesday morning from her home in the 1500-block of London Street. Her car was found in Stanley Park on Wednesday night. Crews were searching the area in hopes of finding her Thursday morning, but have so far found no sign of Leung.
New Westminster Police say it’s possible Leung may be experiencing postpartum depression and they are concerned for her well-being.
Postpartum depression or PPD is a condition that may start during pregnancy or at any time up to a year after the birth of a child.
The Canadian Mental Health Association says a mother or father with postpartum depression may not enjoy the baby and have frequent thoughts that they are a bad parent. They may also have scary thoughts around harming themselves or their baby. Although it’s rare for a parent to make plans to act on these thoughts, the association says the condition requires urgent medical care.
Squamish mom Brie Oliver says she has lived through the depths of postpartum depression, a condition, she says, gets little recognition.
Oliver says the birth of her first child was everything she has ever dreamed off.
“It was, what I would consider, a picture-perfect moment,” she said.
But when she brought her second son home, something was different.
“I had no connection with my son whatsoever,” said Oliver. “The guilt that I felt was nothing like I have ever experienced.”
Oliver says when she initially turned for help, she was given a package of pills, told she had postpartum depression and was sent on her way, with no counselling or support.
It took her three years after she was first diagnosed to finally get some therapy.
“To admit to anyone that you don’t love your baby and to see that look of disgust in most people’s eyes who don’t experience it and don’t understand it, makes you want to bury your emotions even more,” said Oliver.
“Even doctors look at you like you are some horrible person. You are also terrified that they are going to take the baby away from you if you were to admit something like that.”
It is estimated anywhere from six to 13 per cent of moms in Canada experience the condition, but Oliver believes that number is much higher.
“It think it’s closer to 35 per cent or maybe even higher,” she said. “There are a lot of women that just deal with it in their homes, or can’t deal with it, and take off, hurt themselves or their babies. I know the majority of my friends have had it in some shape or form, and we have had to get help for them, because there is no one checking in on them to make sure they don’t need that help.”
She says having been through the viciousness of postpartum depression, she thinks the most important thing for women who feel that something might be wrong is to talk about it.
“I think the more you get it outside of your head and talk to other people, the more silly it sounds once you say it out loud so you can maybe deal with it a bit better,” Oliver said. “But at this point, with our medical system, I really feel like your best defence is other moms.”
But despite the increasing amount of peer support, Oliver says there is still a lot of stigma associated with the condition.
To learn more about postpartum depression, go here.