Her name is Katie Corcoran and she is suffering from postpartum psychosis. She was supposed to be released from the hospital to her family, but on September 5th, in some kind of mix-up, she was sent off in a taxi instead. Her husband, small children, family and friends haven't seen or heard from her since. This week, a friend of the family emailed me the following letter from Katie's mother, Nancy, to publish on my blog Postpartum Progress:
This is your mom - please call home. I want to know if you are safe. I think about you all the time. I worry about you. I want to take care of you - with love and understanding. You have always been my pride and joy.
Please. Please call.
This story and so many others like it fill me with deep sadness and regret. Women who commit suicide. Women, like my mother, who don't know what's wrong with them, don't get treated and become alcoholics to escape the pain. Women who reach out for help but are ignored or stigmatized and feel that hurt for the rest of their lives. I regret that in this day and age we still don't know enough about dealing with postpartum mood disorders that something like Katie's disappearance could happen. She is out there somewhere, hopefully alive, most likely delusional and alone. And it's not her fault. Before this she was a perfectly normal person. She just happened to draw the short straw for postpartum mood disorders, and now she's lost.
You and I can do something about this. Maybe we can't just drop everything, go off in a plane to parts unknown with a picture of Katie in hand and search for her, but we CAN do something ... for Katie and for all the other mothers past and present and future who have suffered or will suffer from these illnesses.
On Wednesday October 24th, BlogHer, Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Progress are joining together to host Blog Day for the MOTHERS Act. We're asking bloggers from around the country to write about the MOTHERS Act for postpartum depression on the 24th and to encourage their readers to pick up the phone that day, call their Senators and urge them to endorse this critical legislation. I hope you will join us in this effort, which is part of the overall BlogHers Act 2007-2008 initiative to improve maternal health.
What is the MOTHERS Act? The Moms Opportunity to Access Help, Education, Research and Support for Postpartum Depression Act, or MOTHERS Act (S. 3529), will ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms and provided with essential services. In addition, it will increase research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression. The bill is sponsored by Senators Menendez and Durbin.
Postpartum depression is a serious and disabling condition that affects up to 20 percent of new mothers -- as much as 800,000 American women each year. Yet only 15 percent of these women will receive any assessment or treatment. Let me repeat. With all we know and as smart as we are, only 15% of 800,000 women will get diagnosed and treated. That is so wrong on so many levels. Women are not being diagnosed because they're not being educated and they're not being screened. Untreated, the consequences of maternal mood disorders range from chronic, disabling depression to death. The impact of untreated maternal depression on infants/children ranges from behavioral and learning disabilities to depression and, in the worst case scenarios, death from infanticide.
Specifically, the MOTHERS Act will help new moms by:
- Providing important education and screening on postpartum depression (PPD) that can lead to early identification and treatment. The legislation includes two grants to help healthcare providers educate, identify and treat PPD.
- Expanding important research to improve and discover new treatments, diagnostic tools and educational materials for providers. Since the exact cause of PPD isn't known, research continues to be the key to unlocking the mystery of this condition.
The bill is currently with the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee of the Senate. If the majority of the HELP Committee members endorse the MOTHERS Act, the bill will move forward for consideration by the Senate. Without Senate sponsors, the bill could languish in committee and await reintroduction at a future date. The moms of America can't wait for that.
Most Senators rarely hear from mothers (and others!), and phone calls from you and your readers will cause them to sit up and take notice on a specific issue. Writing or sending emails has much less impact. With your support, Blog Day for the MOTHERS Act can truly have a measurable impact.
Here's what to do on October 24th:
- * Grab a Blog Day for the MOTHERS Act button from BlogHer here and display it on your blog now.
- * Tell your fellow bloggers about Blog Day for the MOTHERS Act so they can participate too.
- * Visit the Postpartum Support International website and click the Welcome Bloggers button at the top to get all the information you need about the bill, how your readers can call their Senators, what to say, etc.
- * Publish your post on postpartum depression and the MOTHERS Act on Wednesday, October 24th and don't forget to tag your post with: Blog Day for the MOTHERS Act, BlogHers Act, BlogHer, Postpartum Progress, Postpartum Support International, postpartum depression
- * MAKE THOSE CALLS!!
- * Once you've blogged, be sure to go back to the BlogHer page and leave your URL so others can link to you.
- * I also hope you'll to visit me at Postpartum Progress and leave a link to your blog or a message to my readers, most of whom are sufferers and the people who care for them. If you have a question, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, if you're not a blogger, I still encourage you to participate by calling and asking those around you to call their Senators to galvanize support for passage of the MOTHERS Act. The more calls the better!!!
Postpartum mood disorders are a disease of motherhood -- they can affect any woman who becomes a mother, regardless of who she is. If we don't do something to better educate and treat the mothers who may suffer, we are doing a disservice to all mothers, children and families everywhere. All it takes is a phone call to let the Senate know that the women of America want the MOTHERS Act to pass.
(crossposted at BlogHer and Postpartum Progress)
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