Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two marvelous women we would like to draw your attention to...

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is a poet, writer, educator, New Yorker and world-wanderer ~ And...Dana Leggett, a radical feminist mama of three from Winnipeg, Manitoba whose hope is to show vulnerabilty through art ~ Carla, Tania and I met these women, among 83 others in NYC, who truly touched our hearts. You must check out their sites as they will also affect you in ways where you're so thankful to have met them, too! Thank you Mariahadessa and Dana for following your truths and igniting such beauty and generosity. Gratefully...!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our "Unmasking Postpartum Depression" Conference!

Claire Belanger-Parker of CNT Group Management Inc. asked us at our book launch in November if we were ready for our first PPD conference, and...we haven't look back since!! We are very proud to present our conference website for all the information you will need to register and participate in our "Call For Action!!" Here's to moving forward!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Much more awareness for Postpartum Mood Disorders and Mental Health all around!!

As Pamela Cowan, a writer for the LeaderPost in Regina, SK, put it to me, The more people we can get going to our website and picking up the paper, the stronger a message we are sending to the powers that be that mental health is an important issue worth following. Thanks for your help. We would like to draw your attention to a 7-part series on Mental Health awareness, our stories being one of those articles...The Nightmare of Postpartum Psychosis, and New Dads not exempt from Depression.

Our world is most definitely moving forward!! Now...keep it going by sharing these links on your facebook page, on your twitter account, on, on your blog and the other social networks I haven't mentioned!! This is how positive change happens!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Silent Heroes: Our Husbands

"The best way out is always through" ~ Robert Frost

In our darkness, when there seemed no hope in sight, our husbands stood by our sides. With sadness, anger and hopelessness surrounding our spirits, they remained resilient and never gave up hope.

During incredible periods of stress, they continued to work, look after their children, and manage the household. After reflecting back on our struggles, it is undeniable how much love they demonstrated for their families!

In celebration of Father's Day, we would like to thank our husbands for their support; not only during the darkness but for encouraging us to enter the light and bring forward healing for many families, including our own.

We would like to encourage all father's to seek assistance during Postpartum difficulties and know that they are not alone. Supports are available in the community, and education should be a priority when becoming a parent.

When you almost lose the things that matter most, you realize how little the problems really are - family, love and health are the most important ~ Excerpt from The Husbands' Perspectives: Darren's Truth

With much love and gratitude!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Memory of My Friend and her Daughter...I will continue to honour their light!

This is The Smiling Mask's first interview, and it definitely demonstrates the need for empathy and education surrounding Postpartum Mood Disorders. As co-authors of “The Smiling Mask,” our mission is to encourage women to forgive themselves and reach out for assistance. We want to express our deepest gratitude for Terra Brockett for sharing her story and in turn honouring her dear friend, Jen and Jen's daughter.


In memory of your friend, what can you tell us about her before the illness? What sparked your friendship, what are some beautiful things you remember about her?

It’s funny because Jen really amazed me in so many ways. She was a positive, open minded, energetic woman. She had a strong ethics and refused to do anything that went against her sense of right. As an academic, she graduated at the top of her class with a psychology degree from Ehwa Women’s University, one of the top universities in South Korea. As an ESL teacher, she loved being around children and her students loved her because of the relationships she developed with them. She could dance and sing like Jennifer Lopez and was naturally athletic which meant she’d play any sport someone would invite her to play. She was not afraid to try anything. She had her own sense of fashion and somehow really pulled off outfits that I am not sure you could find on any runway. I remember last summer when she spent a few weeks with us, how she was with my baby girl. There was a moment when I thought to myself that she was just a whole different level of parent as my daughter, who was always hard to settle, just cooed and laid there relaxed in her arms. She also had this effect on me. She was comforting.

How did the illness change her, and what did her symptoms look like?

I only know bits and pieces but my impression is that anxiety and fear literally ran her life. She was anxious about a lot of things, but mostly about her daughter’s health. She really thought there was something wrong with her daughter. This anxiety dictated everything she did from multiple visits to the doctor to isolating herself by not leaving the “safety” of the house or letting people in to visit. Her fears made her feel like she could not trust anyone else to take care of her daughter. Her husband was not able to step in for any of the everyday parenting things like feedings or diaper changes. This of course meant greater struggle for Jen because she was doing even more work on less sleep. It was also a struggle for her husband who did his best to be involved and really wanted to take care of the baby and help her through this.

Was she aware of the illness, and was she able to share this with you?

Her husband had done a lot of research when she started to show signs of serious depression and they talked a lot about it, but she was not able to share the illness with most people including the medical community. She didn’t want her husband to tell anyone so he became her main support. He took her to the doctor three times and she would minimize her struggle. She was afraid of what might happen. She was afraid of being away from her daughter and about being hospitalized long term in a scary place (the mental health hospital). In terms of the illness, I think she was afraid it would never end, especially when the anti-depressants she was prescribed did not work.

Were the symptoms recognizable to you as an outsider, what were some warning signs that you witnessed, or were they masked?

The warning signs, in retrospect, were the absence of phone calls, pictures and sharing stories about her baby. I assumed that this lack of contact was because she was really busy being the “perfect” mother that I always imagined her to be. She was so involved and connected with the children in her life that I always imagined motherhood as something that came “naturally” or easily for her. I never imagined that her silence was really masking the excruciating reality of living with PPD. It’s painful to think about how becoming a mother, something she had been looking forward to for so long, turned out to be such a struggle – how she struggled in silence, not allowing herself support – how those of us who knew her didn’t offer support because we assumed that this woman who always amazed us could never be vulnerable to something like PPD.

If you could have a dialogue with her during the struggle and now knowing more about PPD, what would you have said to help her?

I would have been honest about my own struggle with PPD before she even gave birth. I would have tried to open a safe space for any future discussions on PPD by being understanding and sympathetic not only to my own struggle, but to the struggles of so many others. This is so important-the need to make it OK for her to share her pain. Honestly, I would have handed The Smiling Mask over to her and even gone over the book together, sharing thoughts and listening to what was going on for her. In this particular case, Carla’s experience may have offered her hope or a different way to look at things when her meds didn’t work. I would have legitimated her struggle while talking about possible options and resources that might help. The big thing is I guess is that I would have initiated a conversation that did not take place while she was alive.

Having suffered the loss of your friend what would tell others who may encounter PPD with their own friends or family?

Share your stories, experience, and knowledge about PPD. Others may feel differently about this, but I truly feel like being educated and prepared is important so that she can identify when something is not “normal.” Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume that a completely resilient capable woman can’t suffer PPD. Don’t assume that silence is only a sign of being a busy mom. Don’t assume that someone who appears happy is OK. Don’t assume that she will let you know when she needs help-even if that was the case before having the baby…just don’t assume.

Having the courage to share your story is very brave, what are your hopes for this interview?

I hope that this will speak to the serious potential of this illness and how it affects many different kinds of women. It is everyday women, our sisters, our daughters, and our friends who suffer from this illness. It is not something to be taken lightly or passed over as something that “women just need to get over” or “suck it up” (both comments of which I have heard in the past). Women themselves need to know that this is not a matter of being strong enough to handle it yourself, but being able to ask for help because this illness in its most severe form, has taken other women’s lives. It is a serious, real illness that can hit anyone – including my friend, one of the most brilliant, selfless, loving women I knew.


If you feel compelled to become an Ambassador by telling your story on our website, PLEASE feel free to contact us, we would be most honoured to showcase your truth. If you have more ideas on how the message of hope and healing can get around our world…contact us at! Make a difference, today, by speaking out loud the valuable lessons you just learned. Even print and share this interview for others to read!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


The Smiling Mask Team travelled to New York for its first academic conference. The bright lights, billboards and big city adventure was surreal.

The conference, “Mothers Gone Mad,” opened our eyes to the shared experiences of many women surrounding Postpartum Depression and Mothering.

Personally listening to the ideas presented by the various speakers was interesting on many levels, these women touched on so many aspects of mothering and their own experiences. The knowledge we received spoke about the respect for our own mothers and generations past.

There was no judgment of mental illness but rather a deep admiration for the strength and suffering of past and present mothers. The experience of congregating with such spirited, passionate and intelligent women was poetic. Our differences in age, education, social class and ethnicity were lost as we entered and spoke about women as a whole; mind, body and spirit. We encouraged, educated and empowered each other!

Our hope is that with more education and awareness future mothers will be free of the mask and move towards the original beauty of creation. Finally beginning with the universal thread: If we nurture the mother we nurture humanity.