Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Smiling Mask Team LIFE LIST (aka To The Core Consulting)

Overall - The Smiling Mask Team is living on purpose, for purpose and with purpose. We are open and welcome cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships that uplift others and ourselves. We work easily, effortlessly, and efficiently with passion, ease and grace – we work smart, not hard!

The items that are in gray represent what we have and/or achieving!

Work + Financial
1. Be cash flow positive.
2. Get to National Best Selling status on the book.
3. Do meaningful work that helps others.
4. Be financially free and responsible.

Home + Daily Life
1. Enjoy our home life families and be grateful for all.
2. Practice meditation daily (whether it is yoga, quietness, or Ho’oponopono).
3. Take vacations when rest is required (even if we don’t leave our homes).

Relationships (Family, Friends and Pets)
1. Be grateful for our families, friends and pets. Show gratitude daily.
2. Maintain and be thankful for the positive relationships with our ambassadors.
3. Continue to attract cooperative opportunities and relationships that benefit both parties.

Giving Back
1. Continue giving $1.00 from every book sold to our charities of choice.
2. Give of our time openly and generously.
3. Continue to create the safe space for people to share their struggles and especially their healing.
4. Focus on parenting and children.
5. Focus on wellness and wholeness.

Travel, Exploration + Experience
1. Travel to many desirable destinations with each other and with our families with ease (e.g.: NYC, Fredericton, NB)
2. Empower and inspire all of Canada to prioritize maternal mental health.
3. Create a big screen movie.
4. Finally, create our children’s book and also include Mary MacNicol's Angel painting!
5. Teach and speak.
6. Get a television program.
7. Meet Oprah and Ellen.
8. Receive Order of Canada and Order of Saskatchewan.

Self (Personal Goals + Self Care)
1. Surround ourselves with forgiving, accepting and loving messages.
2. Balance our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.
3. Make it a habit to understand that unfavourable experiences or feelings are simply reminding us what it is we DO want out of life – send out those rockets of desire!
4. To go through life with grace and ease and good times!

Visit to view many more such lists AND to create your own!

Much success and fun!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Promoting Peace and Validation to Create a Healthy Community

On November 25, 2010, the YMCA in Moose Jaw celebrated National Peace Week by acknowledging the achievements of local persons in the community who – without any special resources – demonstrate in their lives and activities the values expressed in the World Alliance on YMCA’s 1981 statement of Peace.

Peace has many dimensions. It is not only a state of relationship among nations. We cannot expect to live in a world of peace if we are unable to live in peace with those close to us – even those who differ from us. The responsibility for peace begins with each person, in relationship with family and friends, and extends to community life and national activities.

I was truly honoured to be nominated for this year’s Peace Medal. I would also like to congratulate the other following nominees for their valuable work in the community of Moose Jaw:

Joe Dueck,
Don Gude,
Leanne Plouffe,
and Joan Stumborg who graciously received the award.

Together we are enriching the lives of the local families by creating a healthy and safe community!

When we created the dream of The Smiling Mask in 2008, our mission was to create awareness, understanding, and acceptance of postpartum difficulties; to bring peace and validation to mothers and fathers by engaging, and empowering families, and communities in the life changing and natural experience of parenthood.

We could have never imagined the immense support we have and continue to receive from various organizations in the community such as The Canadian Mental Health Association, Public Health, KidsFirst and the YMCA to name a few!

One of my personal goals when we started this project was to create a local Postpartum Support Group in Moose Jaw, and to provide Pre-natal Education. When I put this suggestion forward, again, I was amazed by the support I received. Peace came to me, when I realized I did not have to be a prisoner to my mental illness and when I realized we have two hands; one to help ourselves and one to help someone else!

We are so blessed to live in such an abundant, healthy and rich community!

Carla O’Reilly,
Author & Inspirational Speaker

Friday, November 12, 2010

After the Birth, what a family needs!

With the wonders of facebook, we found this connection to Gloria from British Columbia. Below is a caption from her blog that is very informative and great information for supports on what potential help will look like to a new mom.

Enjoy in providing help that may work well for both parties!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kristyn's Courage: A Mother's Legacy for her daughters!

We connected with Kristyn after she purchased our book, and after hearing her courageous story, we asked her to share her experiences to help other mothers.

She is a testament to the strength of a mother, having battled this illness three times and continues to have a positive outlook and places her children's happiness first. The beauty in her story is the teaching of advocacy she demonstrates. She is not ashamed and speaks freely about her illness. Please cheer her on as she destroys the mask and continues to be a role model for her daughters!

Thank you for choosing to share your story Kristyn, why do you think it is so important?

I wanted to share my story because people need to know. PPD is nothing to be ashamed of. It's an illness; that if treated appropriately can be stabilized. Unfortunately, there is no 100% cure, but we all have to stay strong and FIGHT!

What were your symptoms like?

My symptoms revolved around resentment. I resented my baby. I resented my husband for making me pregnant. I wanted to leave. I, to this day, think my depression started showing itself in my third trimester. During that time I had anxiety. I was anxious that I wouldn't know what labor was. I was anxious about bringing this baby home. I was anxious about breast-feeding. I was anxious about being a mother. I ended up seeking counseling before my daughter was born. It helped with the issues I was having at that time, but I had no idea what was about to happen.

Right before I had my daughter, I had a plan. I had decided that I didn't want to be a mother or a wife, so I was just going to leave. I had decided that I would have this child, and when we were discharged from the hospital, I was going to go home, pack my bags and leave. I wanted nothing to do with that life. Fortunately, for me I ended up with an emergency C-section. So, I was unable to do pretty much anything. I was in so much pain. Then I decided that after the six to eight weeks I would leave.

How long did you suffer before seeking help?

Eight weeks. I suffered alone in silence for eight weeks.

What did you do in order to get help and why do you think it was so important for your family?

At my eight week check up I told my doctor that I thought something was wrong. I said “I don't like my baby, and I don't want her. I want to run away and never come back."
This was important for my family because it was my way of finally standing up and saying, "I'M NOT OKAY!"

I was doing strange things. I refused to be left alone with my daughter. If I was going to nap, I would remove everything from my room that had anything to do with a baby. I removed the bassinet, the receiving blankets, diapers, wipes. I would set it out in the hall an pretend I wasn't a mom. I was just the person that I was missing so much. I would also shower. Every time my daughter started crying, I would run and have a shower so I didn't have to listen to it. Thankfully, my husband was home during this time to take care of her. I would shower five to six times a day.

I also HATED my daughter. I was so mad at her for “RUINING” my life. I knew I needed help. I knew that it wasn't right for a mother to feel this way about her child. I just, for the life of me, couldn't figure out why I was feeling this way.

I was started on an anti-depressant immediately. I started Celexa 10mg. I noticed a difference quickly. I also called the Postpartum Depression help line here in Saskatoon and started attending the local support group. I LOVED the group. It was the second outing I took my daughter to all by myself! This was a HUGE accomplishment considering she was already three and a half months old. It was so refreshing for me to find people that knew what I was going through. I felt safe, and at home. I started looking forward to the “homework” assignments that we had.

What proactive steps did you take with your second pregnancy, that were different from your first knowing more about Postpartum Depression?

My second pregnancy was AMAZING! I continued on medication, although, I switched from Celexa to Prozac. I knew that there was NO way I was ever going to be off my anti-depressant. I had a long talk with my family doctor, and we decided to make the switch. I knew that Prozac was the only medication that had been studied on pregnant women, and that there were no side effects on the babies.

I also TALKED! The minute I was diagnosed with PPD, I told two of my best friends in the world, Cari and Tania. Both of these women had children the same time I had my oldest daughter. Our kids were born within three weeks of each other. So, I had friends going through the same things I was going through; had support from women who I could bounce my feelings off of.

I am also very open about my PPD. I'm not afraid to talk about it. I'm not ashamed of it. I was proud that I was healthy and happy to be having my second daughter.

I delivered my Heidi on October 4, 2007, 22 ½ months after having my oldest daughter Halle. 20 months after being diagnosed with PPD. Now, I would like to say that I was “CURED” we were a happy family with these two great kids! But my anxiety started creeping up on me when Heidi was three months old. I told my husband, who was very supportive. Since work was always one of my refuges, I started picking up a four-hour shift, once a month. It was great. I was enjoying myself. My husband had taken time off work, and we were going to have the year with the girls together.

When my Heidi was eight months old, I discovered I was nine weeks pregnant. I honestly felt that my world had stopped spinning. I was devastated. I took to bed for two weeks. I felt so alone, I knew I was struggling with my own feelings about being a good mother to my kids, and didn't know what to do.

I had to go back to work full time three days after finding out about my pregnancy so I would be able to qualify for another mat leave. I hit rock bottom. I was so depressed. At my first prenatal appointment I told my doctor that I didn't want the baby. She asked me first if I was depressed, or if we needed to make an appointment for a D&C. I told her that it was the first time I had been out of my bed in the past 2 weeks. She immediately referred me to a psychiatrist. I was lucky to get in within the week.

After months of sessions and medication changes, I was up to 60mg of Prozac and almost put on Lithium, which is a mood stabilizer commonly used for Bipolar Disorder, I delivered girl #3 on December 29, 2008. Isobel.

What lessons have your learned from your healing that are positive for your family?

The lesson that I've learned is, everything will be OK.

Yes, I have guilt. I have so much guilt, but you know what, my girls were babies. They won't remember the worst of me. That's my burden to carry. And yes, some days it's heavy. Some days I feel like I'm being pulled down and I'm grasping to hold on.

I take a step back and remember. I remember how I felt and I look at my girls. How beautiful they are. How strong they are.

It's going to take us time to heal. My husband has been supportive in his own ways. He is the greatest dad in the world. He has put up with a lot from me, but he's still here and we're working on it.

I know that everything will be OK!

How has this experience helped you in other aspects of your life?

I'm more open. I don't hide my feelings anymore. It's like I took off that mask and destroyed it.
What words of encouragement can you offer for mothers who are suffering right now?


The results won't be immediate, but if you work they will come. I'm a living example. My Halle will be five in a few weeks, my Heidi turned three a few weeks ago, and my Isobel will be two at the end of December.

I'm still on my meds. Currently I'm on 20mg of Celexa. I've been up to 60 mg. I know I will never be off them. When my kids ask what they're for, I tell them “They're Mommy's Happy Pills."

You will have bad days, I'm not going to lie. There will be a few of those, but when you get through them and get out of the dark place you will be able to appreciate everything you have.

Everything will be OK!

E-Learning Event Maternal Mental Health: Understanding, Care and Support


Maternal Mental Health is an important issue, with one in five women suffering from depression in pregnancy and postpartum. We are implementing recommendations of the MotherFirst working group, with includes screening for depression, improved group and individual therapies, and medical management. This presentation will invite and challenge health professionals to think about how they address the emotional needs of their pregnant and postpartum patients. Questions, such as; What is the EPDS?, When do I screen?, Can I prescribe antidepressants medications for my patients?, will be discussed.

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of maternal depression and anxiety
  • Understand how to screen women for depression in pregnancy and postpartum
  • Know how to start and facilitate a postpartum depression support group
  • Understand effective individual therapies
  • Identify appropriate medical interventions and medications for use in pregnancy
  • Understand the strategies for positive mental health
Target Audience:

Family physicians, obstetricians, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, midwives, doulas, public health nurses, mental health workers, social workers, maternal child workers, lactation consultants, KidsFirst workers, pharmacists, prenatal educators, elders and parent mentor program staff.

Pre-workshop reading material available at where you may download the MotherFirst Report.

Registration is free of charge.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We have two hands: One to Help Ourselves and one to Help Someone Else!

After connecting nearly five years ago, our friendships have grown enormously with our mission to provide healing to many mothers and destroy the mask! We only continue to spread our wings and follow our dreams. True love is accepting someone when they are at their worst and cheering them on when they are at their best! The letter, below, was created as a birthday gift for Tania and also serves as a testament of all the success and healing that has transpired between the three of us! May you use this letter as an inspiration to reach out to your own friends and tell them how much they mean to you!

Ode to my friend and confidante Tania Bird:

She saw beauty and grace when I felt none.
She saw intelligence and wisdom when I felt I had none to offer.
She saw a bountiful spirit when mine so damaged and worn.
She never stopped believing in our dream to educate, empower, encourage and provide empathy.
She loved me during my best and worst times!
She taught me the following lessons;
To never harbor hate or anger.
To never take myself too seriously, and laugh at my humanity.
That the perfect mother doesn’t exist she is only a myth.
That we can never be too fabulous, or too extravagant with our goals and dreams.
That our friends will always provide a soft and safe place for us to fall but it is ultimately our responsibility to choose our happiness.
She has uplifted me to great heights with her guidance and acceptance!

Love and light,

Carla O'Reilly
Author & Inspirational Speaker

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The MotherFirst Report is available for download!

Well, we used our voices and the MotherFirst Report was endorsed, today, Thursday, October 21st, 2010 by the Minister of Health, Honourable Don McMorris, in Regina, SK!!

PLEASE find your copy here to download, and disburse to anyone and everyone ~ it's the grassroots movement that will make the recommendations occur that much faster and stronger! YOU HAVE THE POWER IN YOUR HANDS BY ASKING TO BE SCREENED WITH THE EDINBURG POST-NATAL DEPRESSION SCALE!! Start the conversation, NOW, with your Doctor, Obstetrician, Public Health Nurse, Counsellor, Social Worker, or by simply calling the Healthline at 1-877-800-0002! If you're a healthcare practitioner with questions, please direct your email inquiries to !

It's by putting the Mother, first, that will ensure the health and well-being of our children ~ our future!

A heartfelt thank you for your support and energy to this movement!

The MotherFirst Working Group

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another Saskatchewan Healthcare First!

You are invited to witness another SASKATCHEWAN HEALTHCARE FIRST!

WHEN: Thursday, October 21st, 2010
TIME: 11:15 am – 11:30 am
LOCATION: Legislative Building, Regina, SK (Ask at the Security Desk for further directions.)

Witness the Minister of Health, The Honourable Don McMorris, make Canadian history as he endorses the MotherFirst Report - it will be made available for download after the announcement at and ! The report recommends education for the public and all healthcare providers, as well as, screening (for anxiety and depression) and treatment for every pregnant and post-partum woman in our province!

We are the first province within Canadian that will have the most comprehensive support for mothers and their children!!

The official announcement will be 15 to 20 minutes in length. It will cover Dr. Angela Bowen's explanation of the recommendations, to then have the Minister verbally endorse the recommendations. Finally, our Team, with husbands in tow, will express our absolute enthusiasm for the developments that are occurring in our province! Please come if you are
able as we would LOVE to have the entire room full with our family and friends! This is a magnificent celebration!!

Plus, there will be an evening PUBLIC MotherFirst Report presentation with Dr. Angela Bowen and a showing of The Smiling Mask documentary (free of charge):

WHEN: Thursday, October 21st, 2010
TIME: 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
LOCATION: Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, SK (corner of Albert Street and College
There will also be a Q&A session, including Darren and Ward, following the viewing.

**** Please share this information with all your contacts who may be interested.

With immense gratitude!
Carla, Elita & Tania

NOTE: An e-Learning event will happen on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010,
8:30 am to 12:00 pm, including a psychiatrist, psychologist and nurses to
discuss screening, medical management, and treatments.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thankful in our Hearts and Minds

On behalf of the three of us, we want to say how much we are grateful for our Ambassadors, who continually support our mission to destroy the mask! Your encouragement and support have nurtured our families and yours, to where we are all today!

Finally, after two years, each of us are at peace. We are no longer ashamed and know that after manifesting The Smiling Mask, we can only continue to follow our dreams!

We are so excited for the future and know that the possibilities are endless!

When you live in a place of gratitude, inspirational words become gold. My beautiful friend, Tania, gave me this loving quote for my birthday. She said the following quote made her think of me. I am in awe, as I know I received everything I wished for after dreaming! We all have the power to do this and I feel all the same for you...

I have a premonition that soars on silver wings,
It is a dream of your accomplishments
Of many wondrous things,
I do not know beneath which sky
Or where you ‘ll challenge fate,
I only know it will be high,
I only know it will be great!
~ Anonymous

With love this Thanksgiving on behalf of The Smiling Mask Team!

Carla , Elita and Tania

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Smiling Mask Team's Journey to Hope!

On Saturday, September 25th, The Smiling Mask Team joined many family members and friends who organized, "Journey to Hope" a walk to promote suicide prevention and education and provide a place for survivors and family to heal and honour loved ones. The event was held at Crescent Park in Moose Jaw, and this year I was honoured to be asked to share my story.

Having come full circle in my journey through this illness, I want to say thank you to everyone who stood by me through those four long years when I was struggling to find the light. Today, I know I have found it. I would like to now share with you my speech.

Love and Light,

Carla O'Reilly
Author & Inspirational Speaker
The Smiling Mask-Truths about Postpartum Depression and Parenthood

Good afternoon,

On behalf of myself, Elita Paterson and Tania Bird, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the organizers of Journey to Hope, for inviting us to be a part of this event. Suicide prevention begins and ends with awareness and empathy. If we as a community understand and recognize the struggle between the head and the heart we can provide hope and reduce tragedy.

As three women who strived to be the perfect mothers, our unrealistic expectations only led to severe Postpartum Depression. We lived with an outward mask, pretending to be happy. Unfortunately, our journey through motherhood began with fear, isolation, social pressure and a loss of self. After struggling and contemplating suicide, I understand first-hand what the deep hole felt like as described by anyone who has suffered with mental illness.

The feelings and emotions that go along with depression are akin to a dark, spiraling staircase, with no sense of impending light. The painful and judgmental thoughts one can experience, can also be described as a Game of Dominos . One negative thought after another after another after another. When you continue to think negatively, you self-fulfill that prophecy and the habit becomes ingrained.

After struggling for over four years, I made a choice to forgive myself and no longer be a victim to my illness. In 2008, the three of us came together with a mission to provide awareness, acceptance and assistance for families struggling with Postpartum Depression and together wrote The Smiling Mask. We realized that we all have the power of positive choice. We all have the power to create self-happiness! Elita Paterson explains this inner power in the Smiling Mask, “If I thought myself here, I can damn well think myself out!” The key to this powerful statement is: Just as negative thinking becomes a habit so can positive thinking.

Recognizing that you have the power to perceive any unfortunate circumstance happening to you, and choosing that opportunity to create and grow as well as help someone else, is life changing! We truly believe the mantra, “You have two hands: One to help yourself and one to help someone else!” The power to destroy mental illness stigma comes from within! You must first forgive yourself, then move forward to a place of self-acceptance and, finally, self-love.

Finding a mentor, friend, support group or seeking counselling to help guide you on this path is key. Remembering that you are not alone is also key to wellness. Speak UP, speak OUT and share! Know that this is the first step on the healing journey. And, it is a journey, a marathon, not a sprint.

Our hope is that by sharing our truths and continuing our campaign of the four "E"s: Education, Empowerment, Encouragement and Empathy, the world will understand that, “Reaching out for assistance is not an expression of weakness; it is you taking hold of your power! Empathy and compassion are the very heart of our existence.”

Today I leave you with a wish to find hope and healing and know your loved ones are safe, smiling and surrounded by peace and love.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We hit PPD info jackpot!

We hit this jackpot when Rachel Day excitedly reached out to us August 27 from the United Kingdom wanting to also share her story on our site AND her book (!) ~ for her to then share our stories on hers! Then we asked her if her husband would consider answering a few interview questions. She responded by saying that they were divorced but still had a strong relationship and she would ask. Well, not only did her ex-Husband answer our questions, so did her fiancé who also went through Post-Natal Psychosis with his first wife!! Truly, truly admirable and courageous people for each and every one of them to share their lives like they have for the world to read and learn. May your hearts be open to their courageous words of hope!

Rachel Day's story....
The men in her life, stories....

May you also check-out Rachel's site AND incredible book at with admiration and gratitude!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Mother's Love Reborn with Forgiveness

I met Carrie, in 2005, when I began to attend the YMCA Postpartum Support group in Regina. Nearly five years ago, the friendships made have withstood time and the most beautiful thing is that we have all grown to forgive ourselves for the illness, for our judgments of our mothering ability and to move forward into love for ourselves and our children.

In the spirit of helping other mothers, Carrie has shared her experience in the following interview. I would also like to say I have witnessed her healing as I attended her child's birthday party one month ago and saw a mother who was free, spirited and able to adjust her sail as the the gail force winds tried to destroy her perfectly planned picnic. She did not stress, or falter...only laugh. The laugh that told me this was just another day in the life of a mother.

Thank you Carrie, for your friendship, I am so proud to be your friend!


Thank you for choosing to share your story Carrie, why do you think it is so important?

Sharing my story is important for two reasons. The first reason, being to help others; telling mothers or soon to be mothers of all the good, bad, and ugly truths about Postpartum Depression (PPD) may help them recognize the signs and the different ways to deal with it. The second reason is to help myself. Sharing my story gives me a sense of relief. I know, now, that I was not alone. I can help to change the perception of how others see this disease! This is empowering!

What were your symptoms like?

I had suffered with severe depression during my pregnancy. At the beginning the symptoms were fatigue, lack of energy, uncontrollable crying spells, feelings of guilt and suicide. I had run my car into a pole hoping for the worst to happen so my child would never be born and never have to have me as a mother. After I had delivered my baby I had feelings of guilt, anxiety, irritability and fatigue. I felt like I couldn’t cry, I had distanced myself from everyone around me; I never felt that bond or "love" that a mother should have for her child. I had visions of throwing my son down the stairs. I also had dreams of crashing my car and killing us both. Those are only a few visions, but the most memorable.

How long did you suffer before seeking help?

I had been in counseling for months before the birth. After the delivery, I attended the Postpartum Support Group at the YMCA.

What did you do in order to get help and why do you think it was so important for your family?

Other than the counseling, I took anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medication. I believe it was important for me and my family so I could regain my confidence to be a mother and experience that feeling of love. My sister stepped in to support me and raised my son for eight months during his first year of life. It took a lot of family, friends and counseling to feel ready to be a mother.

What proactive steps did you take with your second pregnancy that was different from your first knowing more about Postpartum Depression?

The steps I took with my second pregnancy started as soon as I had received the positive test result. I had started on new medication, sought counseling, talked a lot about my fears and hopes about having another child. After I had my daughter, I continued with everything as well as took time out for myself to do activities I really enjoyed.

What lessons have your learned from your healing that are positive for your family?

The first lesson and the most important one that I learned was that having PPD was not my fault. I have learned that you can’t change the past but you can make a new beginning! I always felt like I owed my child everything and felt guilty for what I had done. Healing helped me to understand that my love for him was enough; I didn’t have to prove myself. He was a baby and loved me no matter what.

How has this experience helped you in other aspects of your life?

The experience has helped me to believe in myself. No matter what goes wrong or how hard life gets I can get through it. Positive thinking, love, family and friends are all a person needs to overcome anything!

What words of encouragement can you offer for mothers who are suffering right now?

You are not alone!! Talk to someone. Understand it is not your fault. Believe in yourself. Being a mother is the most wonderful gift.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

History in the making!

History was made on Tuesday, August 17th between 11 am and 12 pm in Regina, SK!!
Not only for our province, but for our country when Minister of Health, Don McMorris, met with Dr. Angela Bowen, Jamie Petty and I, and readily agreed to endorse the first-ever MotherFirst recommendations for our province!

There is history in the making for Canada, also, as other provinces have been watching our work and wanting to move forward with our comprehensive recommendations of education, screening, and treatment through sustainability and accountability - all of these actions to ensure emotional well-being for mothers and their children! We will update you as the momentum continues!

An ENORMOUS "Thank you!" goes to Dr. Angela Bowen and the 34 other members that represent the entire province of Saskatchewan who are on the SK Maternal Mental Health Working Group
for creating such a "commendable report!" These are Minister McMorris' words! Thank you to each and every one of our Smiling Mask ambassadors who have also wholeheartedly supported this endeavour and believe that a happy and healthy mother makes for a happy and healthy family!

The next step for our province is evolving our working group into an implementation committee to guide the government toward the health of all mothers and children by creating regional implementation committees throughout the province.

If there are mothers and others out there in the world that want to share our recommendations to their powers that be, know that the report will be available for download in the fall! We'll be sure to make you aware so you may share it freely and joyfully!

Grateful beyond all understanding!!!

Elita, Carla & Tania

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kelly Nordstrom as a PPD "Thrivor" and Planet Propellor!

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Kelly, online, when both our stories were on CNN Online regarding Postpartum Depression ~ thanks very much to a dear, male friend of mine who even recommended this site in the first place!

I did my usual thing by asking Kelly if she would like to cross reference each of our sites as I truly admired her healing journey and was sharing her positive experience with the world ~! She quickly agreed and a friendship was as quickly forged :) I admired her tenacity, honesty and humour right from the start...and shortly after she sent a video that further confirmed everything I adored about her; especially her message that is full of heart and hope - click here to understand why she's making a world of difference as she is, and therefore a Planet Propellor, too!

Kelly also offers kind and clever parenting workshops on her site that were an immense help with understanding Ella that much more. For example, I received her Rewards & Consequences Chart earlier this summer to help Ward and I to be more respectful, loving and balanced when teaching Ella to fall asleep earlier at nighttime. Her system also teaches our children to realize how much they positively propel our planet forward with enthusiasm and great speed ~ I just LOVED that! Kelly even responded quickly and heartfully to my lengthy email inquiry so that the system worked that much better for our family ~ now that's a professional and a friend!

Kelly, from my heart to yours...thank you for remaining true to yourself and your children and to your life purpose. You are truly a shining light for all! Gratefully yours....


Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Evolution of Dad

Coming from the perspective of three mothers who speak on postpartum difficulties, I found it most intriguing that Dana Glazer, filmmaker, and the other fathers in this influential documentary, The Evolution of Dad, felt alone and failures as the beginning of their journeys. These are the exact words we used to describe ourselves when we were in the middle of dealing with our conditions.

Could it be we all felt this way because we didn’t feel heard and/or understood or valued while struggling with such pressure and beliefs that simply didn't serve us, well?

So...I am MOST relieved that Dana took his difficulty and created it into a gift of a documentary that is exceptionally eye-opening and validating! My eager eyes were further opened to:
  • fathers who chose and choose to stay at home with their children and why;
  • fathers who fight for their rights to have equal opportunities with their children;
  • fathers who have to fight for paternal paid leave and, thankfully, WIN – a reality only true in the US and four other countries I’ve only heard of maybe one other time in my life;
  • a grandfather who rose-up to raise his grand-daughter because her biological father simply did not trust himself enough to parent, and left her;
  • parents who choose to both work part-time so that they may raise their children, together, despite losing health benefits!
  • women and men who honour and respect what each other has to uniquely offer as parents and not assimilate to one method because one says it's so ~ it's about building confidence in the other to keep trusting his/her intuition ~ Dana's wife said something similar to this and it triggered me to only further respect Ward's ways!
  • and then, all of this information is backed by verifiable experts!
This film also opened my mind to people's bent perceptions. For example, the many men and women that Dana interviewed, believed that a father should spend more time with their children, BUT their place is at work, not at home! So, a man is successful depending on the size of his wallet AND the size of his heart…seems like there’s quite a bit of pressure on men to be perfect, too!

With that typed...I was relieved to hear some of the younger generation realizing the roles of motherhood and fatherhood are dependent on their own definitions!

I like the idea of aiming to be that much more comfortable in my own skin and mind and following my heart despite what others have to say; despite how others rate success. My wish is that both Ward and I may model what success looks like to each of us, and together, so that our daughter may realize her own.

I cried happy tears at the end of this film!

It's my hope that thousands upon thousands of people and corporate owners take the opportunity to purchase and watch such a film. It's my hope the media positively spreads the revelations, inside ~ the hope and guidance is what it will take for our world to live compassionately forward!

With immense gratitude for all of us following our passions to elevate and recognize our power and worth, for our children's sakes ~ Happy Fathers’ Day!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Behind the Iron Mask: Postpartum Recovery is a Family Affair

When we pledged our sacred vows to love, honour and cherish in sickness and health; we could never have imagined the test we would receive.

As the three Authors of The Smiling Mask, our journeys through motherhood began with fear, isolation, and social pressure only to be reborn with powerful healing for mothers everywhere as we exposed our truths.

Thankfully, we were supported by our spouses in our darkest hours. Relying on our husbands to hold on, while we floundered in our deep holes, was at times an exhausting endurance race with no end in sight.

The Smiling Mask documentary features spouses Darren Bird and Ward Paterson who provide intimate detail s of what living with mental illness looked and felt like.


Darren’s Experience:
Darren was coping with extreme stress after the birth of Katherine and was challenged to remain strong during the life and death situation his family experienced. “When it really got challenging and scary was when Tania’s blood pressure spiked enormously and was put on stroke watch, it really started to hit home. I had a little girl in the intensive care unit and a wife in the intensive care unit.”

After Tania’s health improved, her psychosis began and Darren had to admit her into the Psychiatric Ward, under false pretenses. After experiencing such an intense ordeal, their marriage survived only to be that much more solid. Tania speaks about their struggle with love and gratitude, “I contend lesser men would have left, but not my husband.”


Ward’s Experience:
Ward and Elita didn’t recognize her struggle with PPD until the symptoms had become severe, causing them to finally seek help.

Ward explained candidly, “The endless nights of little sleep compounded day after day after day and then heading to working and the demands of that, catches up to you and you become a little irritable. It’s tough to fault anybody.”

After battling with PPD for eight months, Elita hit rock bottom and Ward encouraged her to seek counselling as he admitted that he was going to have his own nervous breakdown. The two of them sought counselling, together, which was immensely helpful to the survival of their marriage. Ward explained, “We had little patience with each other and little things would set us off. It was really mayhem.”


Curtis’ Experience:
Curtis and Carla O’Reilly, unfortunately, endured the longest amount of martial stress being four years. Although their marriage didn’t survive, they have remained friends and co-parents for their son Cameron. “The horrible secret and difficult illness that plagued their lives is under control and Curtis believes they are much stronger people for going through it.”

Curtis offers this advice for fathers dealing with PPD, to be open to taking on more parenting responsibility, and suggests taking Paternal Leave. “We can’t just leave it to the mothers to carry the load, especially dealing with mental illnesses. You can’t gamble with your child’s life.”
“We should not take anything for granted and we should appreciate our lives and the people we share them with.” Excerpt from The Smiling Mask, 2008


After watching the documentary, one will only admire the strength and heart of each husband who held their families together during such damaging circumstances.

Today, The Smiling Mask team celebrates the fathers who carried us in times of sickness and cheered us in times of triumph as we destroyed the mask of PPD. Thank you to Darren, Ward and Curtis. Thank you to all the fathers who remain iron, though tarnished, you continue to remain valiant.

Carla O'Reilly
Author & Inspirational Speaker

Saturday, May 29, 2010

RubyShuze...You deserve the life you want!

I met Layne Schmidt nearly two months ago, now, and she's been a powerful ray of sunshine! I welcome her, warmly, as we all could use more rays these days ;) But, as I tell my daughter...the rain is helping Mother Earth get watered and clean. She's good with that. You know what else she's good with? Some simple tools on how to create a happy life for herself! Layne's site is a friendly must-read, as is her recent newsletter on the latest conversation she and I had about choices and a fabulous chain of events...enjoy!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Postpartum Depression DOES affect our Partners

Check out this recent link to learn how and why. Also, if you're interested in helping out present and/or future partners struggling, please consider contacting Esther Shoemaker at to find out what you can do to make a difference, now! Refer to our past entry here for more information. Thank you and may you understand you're not alone and there is treatment and supports surrounding you and your family!

p.s. The Saskatchewan Maternal Mental Health Strategy will be including that the partners also be screened during pregnancy and postpartum in the treatment program that will be submitted to the government, this August! Now, THAT'S comprehensive and will make a magnificent difference to our families!

Monday, May 17, 2010

What is your child's purpose?

I'm watching the "Oprah" show with Jada and Will Smith as her guests. They are FABULOUS!! The words they share with their children are peaceful, sensitive, humorous as ever, and powerful.

Oprah asked about their family meetings and what is discussed, Jada and Will said something along the lines is their purpose as a family to create a family business that will give back to themselves, their neighbourhood and then humanity as a whole. Once a family creates the space, creates the freedom for one another to learn their purpose, you will then nurture self-esteem which in turn creates an individual who makes healthier decisions for themselves and therefore contributes to the health of our world.

So the question is, 'What is your child's purpose? What is your purpose?" I firmly believe that once our children are given the peaceful space to be free to explore and create and are modeled consequences, peacefully and through a heart connection, are they then shown how to give back to themselves and the people around them. With this type of parenting will our children become agents of change, now! Check out sites such as and for more guidance.

I believe when we live our purpose we are passionate, satisfied, happier and that much more aware of our life choices. We are less likely to be anxious and depressed as we are listening to our bodies and emotions and knowing what feels good or not. If something does not feel good to our being, then we search for solutions that deal with the real cause of our discomfort and move forward. Move forward with people who will support our journey to wellness.

Here's to people like Jada, Will, Oprah, Pam Leo, the Board of Directors of ATLC and many more who show people the how to live powerfully, heartfully and consciously by using our voices and modeling peace and purpose for our children! Our future.....


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Looking for Dads out there who want to help others!

We are helping Dr. Letourneau and her assistant, Esther Shoemaker, by spreading their research news...


I'm writing to you as a research assistant for Dr. Letourneau's current research project on fathers and postpartum depression. We are researchers affiliated with Carleton University, University of Toronto, University of New Brunswick, University of Alberta, and University of Calgary. We are currently conducting telephone interviews with fathers of partners who have experienced postpartum depression within the last five years. We have received ethical approval from all of the institutions involved and the research is funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

We are wondering if you could help us to recruit participants for this study. Maybe you could put up posters in appropriate departments, and you could hand out brochures to individuals who might be eligible to participate. We are not asking you for active recruitment. However, it would be very helpful if you could pass on the information about our study so that fathers can decide on their own if they wish to participate. Of course, any participant will be reimbursed for the time of the interview.

Here is some additional information about the study, and I attached our poster, brochure and study protocol as a reference:

We are trying to understand fathers’ experiences when their partners have postpartum depression as well as fathers’ support needs, resources, barriers to accessing support, and support preferences. We want to find out how to help men whose partners are experiencing or have experienced symptoms of postpartum depression and how to promote fathers’ and mothers’ mental health. During the hour and a half telephone interview, participants will be asked to describe their experiences related to their partners’ postpartum depression. In addition, participants will be asked to complete a number of questionnaires related to demographic information, depression, marital quality, and social support.

The results of this study will enable program planners to develop and test an intervention for fathers which will enable them to better support their wives as they experience postpartum depression.

Please let me know if I can send you posters and brochures, and if you would like more information about the study.

Esther Shoemaker
PhD Student, Population Health
Institute of Population Health
University of Ottawa

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To all mothers and their families!

Happy Mother's Day!

The greatest thing she'd learned over the years is that there's no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good one.
- Unknown

Living these words is what made our healing journeys that much lighter and brighter. And, now, our team has moved into another milestone of our journeys! Three very important announcements:

1. The official announcement of the "Maternal Mental Health" working group was this past Monday, May 3rd, in Saskatoon! We are the only non-medical representatives on the 30+ person committee that has representatives from literally every corner of Saskatchewan. A heartfelt thank-you to Dr. Angela Bowen and her Assistant, Lindsey Bruce, and all the other esteemed members for the incredible work that is being organized and facilitated! Please check out the website for valuable resources and information ~ . Please share it with all the pregnant and new mothers you know, as well as their supports! Then there's your Family Doctor or OB.

2. We are giving back to our communities - we have cut or will be cutting $250 cheques to the:
  • NICU/Mother and Baby Unit in late March;
  • Canadian Mental Health Association last week during Mental Health Awareness Week;
  • Moose Jaw Transition House on May 13th, and then to the
  • YMCA Urban Challenge coming up June 19th.
We will have paid out $1,000! These donations would not be possible without the tremendous support we receive from our ambassadors both through purchases and sharing our message with your friends, families and co-workers.

3. Our team won the category of "Circle of Friends" at the YWCA Women of Distinction Gala on Thursday, May 6th!! The "Circle of Friends" is about honouring a group of two or more women whose collaboration has resulted in outstanding achievements and valuable contributions to their community or communities. We were thrilled to bits that we won! The acceptance speech began, "This is a victory for all Saskatchewan mothers!" We would also like to extend a heartfelt "Congratulations" to all the 2010 nominees and the work they are doing to improve the lives of our communities!

We look forward to what is on the horizon for mothers and their families! We believe change is occurring when it comes to maternal mental health and Postpartum Depression - this is a big topic for the G8 countries (more than 500,000 women globally succumb every year), CNN is soliciting stories, and the other provinces in Canada are watching Saskatchewan make policy changes. These truly are very exciting times!

With immense gratitude,
The Smiling Mask Team

Left to right ~ Carla, Tania and Elita

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Face of Depression

Our team wanted to share a recent post on Sharon Piller's website as it eloquently depicts another face of Postpartum Depression. Please read on and pass along...

"Well I have to tell you this is not going to be an ordinary post for me because this wasn't an ordinary shoot. I was very fortunate to meet some extremely amazing people this past weekend. We had this baby shoot planned for a little bit now. Baby Parker is the most adorable, smiley, happy baby and he is now 5 months old. However, a few things happened when Parker was born to make his first few months on this earth less than ideal. He had very bad colic and to top it off, his wonderful first time mom Danielle fell into a very deep Postpartum Depression. Just in case you are wondering, I have Danielle's full approval to publish her story. In fact, she insisted." Read more here...

Danielle and don't know just how many lives you are saving!! Thanks SO much for sharing ~

Friday, April 2, 2010

Celebrate Forgiveness and Rebirth!

Today, as we embark on a holiday that celebrates forgiveness and rebirth, I would like to encourage each mother who needs support to follow her heart, rest her pain and begin her own healing journey.

Whatever pain you endure and hold onto is a choice; that is whether you allow it to define your spirit. Choose to give life to hope, gratitude and you will receive abundance.

I would like to thank and honor my team and kindred friends Elita Paterson, Tania Bird and Peggy Collins, who have allowed me to achieve such growth and happiness in a short period of time.

We are works in progress, but our positive light has out-shined any of the dark days we endured. We also know that we are waves in the ocean. When one of us is struggling with a storm, the others are there to provide solace and refuge. Our shoreline is vast and endless, so are the possibilities of healing.

We are deeply proud to announce that we have been nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction, Circle of Friends Category for 2010.
This achievement reflects our original mission to provide awareness, acceptance and assistance for mothers and families struggling with PPD.

We graciously thank our supporters for the nomination, as well as our ambassadors who believed in our dream to destroy the mask.

With love and light,

Carla O’Reilly, Elita Paterson and Tania Bird

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Smiling Mask-Documentary Premiere

Now that our 40-minute documentary is complete, support the four Es with us: Education, Empowerment, Encouragement, and Empathy!

Join us as family, friends and ambassadors and be the first to witness our candid truths; heartbreaking, honest, and healing. "THE SMILING MASK: TRUTHS ABOUT POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND PARENTHOOD" DOCUMENTARY.

Filmmaker, and visionary, Dianne Ouellette - has captured the raw emotions of three women and their husbands, as they battled severe Postpartum Depression. This poignant documentary will change they way you view marriage, parenthood and mental illness.
DATE: Thursday, March 11thth, 2010
TIME: Doors open at 6:30 pm / Documentary begins at 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Royal Saskatchewan Museum, 2445 Albert Street, Regina, SK> PRE-SALE TICKETS: $7.00 TICKETS AT THE DOOR: $10.00

Purchase tickets online at - - and click on the "Order Now!" tab, or email us at ! * Special pricing available of our book and DVD that evening: Book: $25.00 / DVD: $10.00 Read what one audience member had to say, and don’t miss your chance to advocate for a mother’s right to ask for help!

"This documentary creates a window for anyone whose mother, sister, aunt, cousin or friend experienced PPD; to understand the tug-o-war between the head and the heart, between love and fear for her child." - Jill Poulton, Mother & Success Coach

On one last note...we continue to support and invite others to donate to: Women's shelters, Mother and Baby Units, YMCA/YWCA and the Canadian Mental Health Association. With heartfelt gratitude and amazement! Carla O’Reilly, Elita Paterson and Tania Bird>

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ebb & Flow

To all of our followers, thank you for your time and interest!

As with all seasons, winter is a time for hibernation and personal reflection. To that end, we, The Smiling Mask Team, are taking a brief break with our blog.

If you are a follower please send in an entry and we will post. This is a wonderful opportunity for your voice.

Energetically, we are on the cusp of Spring and with that transition we need quiet time to sit, ponder, rest, reset and reflect. Spring brings with it new growth. As with nature, we ebb and flow.

We have many upcoming events that we need to get ready for. To that end, we do hope that our followers will brave the computer board and send us a posting.


Carla, Elita and Tania
The Smiling Mask Team

Friday, February 12, 2010

Write your Child a Love Letter!

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, take a moment to celebrate with crafts, cookies and write a special love letter to your child.

Devote this day to your family and jot down how special your child is to you, remind yourself of your success as a parent as your child thrives and grows with the love you have shared.

Make homemade cards for your child’s grandparents with stickers, markers, and glue, and don’t forget to make a batch of homemade brownies, cut out in heart shapes.

Follow this recipe for Cupids Best Brownies at

Celebrate in love!

Carla O'Reilly
Author & Inspirational Speaker

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Parent's Love is Eternal

The greatest gift we receive as parents is watching how our undying love is mirrored in our children’s values. If your family has suffered with PPD, it is important to look on the experience as a learning tool. Remember how strong you became because you wanted to be healthy for your children. As we all strive for perfection, our goal should be to love our child to the best of our capabilities. Show love, speak love and create love. Establish traditions with your children that will bring fond memories as they grow. Lastly allow yourself to feel true happiness when you say, “I love you honey”, and they say I love you to mommy.” Together your bond is eternal.

Carla O'Reilly
Author & Inspirational Speaker

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Earthly Angels!

My introduction to angels came in 2008, when I attended an informational session at the local library. I had the opportunity to meet with Bonnie Bogner, registered angel therapist. During my illness, my fears controlled my happiness and I forgot my ability to pray and ask for guidance and peace. Bonnie’s presence was ethereal, and I was instantly intrigued. I learned about thoughts of fear and thoughts of love and that all I had to do was ask my angels for help.

Reflecting back now I realized God was able to send me earthly angels throughout my journey. I know I was never really alone. While living in Oyen, I was blessed to live two doors down from a sweet loving Grandma. She welcomed me into her home and allowed me to share my illness; she loved my child like a grandson and always welcomed us into her home. We have stayed connected throughout the years and she encourages me to have faith in my beliefs.

In continuing with our gratitude theme, I suggest making a list of your own earthly angels who have come in when the world has gone out. I am sure you will find an endless list, make sure you connect with them, and nurture your relationships.

Carla O'Reilly
Author & Inspirational Speaker

Thursday, January 14, 2010

21 Days to Spiritual Health-Gratitude!

Gratitude. Appreciation. A simple thank you that is heartfelt. All emotions of love from the heart. May 2010 be the year, that we make gratitude part of our everyday experience. When we wake up, thankful for the wonderful day that is about to unfold. When we go to bed, reflection and gratitude on the people, actions, circumstances, and events.

The challenge is to make gratitude a daily habit. They say habits take 21 days to ingrain. For the next twenty-one days, lets try to keep a gratitude journal, listing three things every day we are grateful and appreciative of. Lets see what will happen?????

Maybe, just maybe, life might get a little lighter, a little bit more enjoyable, a little bit more free or it may just sweep us up in a tidal wave of abundance that surrounds us. This could be an an exercise, performed daily that consciously awakens each of us to the wonderful joy and beauty that surrounds us. Whether it is in our children, our friends, our work, or our homes. Yes, we have many a thing to be thankful and grateful for.

We three have made a commitment to create a gratitude habit. In the process, we have found another habit - one of happiness and contentment. Think about, try it, what do you have to lose? You have a lot to gain!

Tania Bird
Author & Inspirational Speaker

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 is Going to be about more Positive Change!‏

Dear Ambassadors,

We would graciously like to thank you for your tremendous support in the past two years! Your belief in our mission to create awareness, acceptance and assistance for women and men struggling with Postpartum Depression (PPD) has brought forth a widespread healing vibration, encouraging changes in our health care system, and providing increased initiatives both, provincially and federally. As reflected in 2009, we made many positive connections with mothers and fathers, and in turn healed ourselves. In fact, many mothers have come forward to share their own stories of hope and healing at . We thoroughly encourage fathers to share their especially compelling stories.

Our goal for 2010 is to continue to destroy the stigma of PPD by promoting the four"E"s: Education, Encouragement, Empowerment, and Empathy. A very powerful, yet, simplistic strategy to ensure a healthy mother, healthy family and healthy community! We want to continue to spread our message, not only to PPD sufferers, but to anyone who is suffering from depression and anxiety, who is riddled with pain, guilt, shame or sadness. You always have the power of choice and the ability to pivot your thoughts and choose to heal. And...that first step is to know it's your birthright to ask for help!

We are also proud to acknowledge the heart and care demonstrated by the health care providers and mothers who attended, listened and formed the"Call for Action" regarding further education and support for families struggling with PPD. The "Call for Action" has now been included in and our team has been invited to participate in the newly formed provincial working group, "Maternal Mental Health: Building Capacity in Saskatchewan." This group was created by Dr. Angela Bowen of theUniversity of Saskatchewan to propel policy change! More information will be sent out, soon.

We would love to hear from you at to share your own stories of healing, or how you have helped someone else struggling with depression, or if you could simply use a shoulder to lean on.

And, if you have missed us, please take a moment to listen to our stories of healing showcased at the successful “2009 Unmasking Postpartum Depression”conference, held in Regina, SK at!

With immense Gratitude!

Carla O’Reilly, Elita Paterson & Tania Bird