Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crushing Stigmas, Smashing Stereotypes, Remembering with Courage

This is the big one. It's been brewing for a while.

My honesty, my frankness, might make some people uncomfortable. That's okay. Aimee's dead, and I know she wouldn't want anyone to be complacent about life. I'm not about to shame her memory by being a coward.

Aimee suffered from postpartum depression and psychosis. While postpartum depression is widely recognized (some studies show as many as one in eight women suffer some depression after childbirth), postpartum psychosis is much more frightening and seldom discussed. Postpartum Support International has a good overview of the condition at their website. You'll note it is a rare illness, affecting around 1/10th of 1% of new mothers.

It's a scary damn disease, too, and one which has too much stigma attached. Aimee never spoke of her bouts with psychosis by name--it was always her postpartum depression or postpartum trouble. It breaks my heart she couldn't call the monster by its real name.

And it is a monster.

I am a trained school counselor with a master's degree in counseling psychology. Aimee was a licensed clinical social worker. We both knew mental illness did not define a person. Aimee was not the psychosis, just as a cancer patient is not a tumor or one with a broken leg is not a broken bone. All the same, mental health issues carry such baggage--so many stereotypes. Aimee was the most vibrant person I've ever known when she was healthy.  I still can't fathom what she saw in this small town Kansas boy when she agreed to marry me. 

She first struggled about nine months after Owen's birth. It came on slowly with typical depressive symptoms, but slowly morphed into something more hideous. She spent a week in inpatient psychiatric care for the first time in June, 2004.  With medication and rest, she recovered. Mostly. Such an experience leaves scars, even if you can't see them.

After Max was born, the psychosis came with a tiger's ferocity. I woke on August 1st, 2006 to a stranger in my bed. She spent her second stint in psychiatric care and navigated a shaky three months before being hospitalized again in November, 2006.

Her recovery was slow. The old Aimee--the most vibrant person I've ever known--never fully returned, at least not to those who were around her most. It breaks my already-shattered heart to write this, but I never stopped loving her. I never stopped caring for her. That is not how I operate--or ever could operate. When I took a vow--to honor and care for her in sickness and in health--in front of God and everyone, I meant it. I'm stubborn that way. I love that way.

Aimee always wanted another child. I was afraid.She never felt our family was complete.

She told me she was pregnant with Elliot last spring. I cried. A cannonball settled in my gut, a cannonball of ice and rusty nails. I steeled myself for the journey ahead. With her history of postpartum psychosis, chances were very great she'd have a relapse.

Nearly four months after Elliot's birth, she did.

Here's what I want you to understand: Aimee was not her illness just as my father, who died as a result of a malignant brain tumor and subsequent treatment, was not the cancer.

If I can help one person have the courage to seek help when they need it--I know Aimee would want that. I know she would.This post is the first step.It's the truth. If Aimee showed me anything, it was how to be brave. I'm not sure what the next step is--but I'm not going to be quiet about Aimee. I'm not going to dishonor her memory by being a coward.

71 comments:

James Everington said...

what a moving post. And a brave one, for there's bravery in truth. Take care man.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Incredibly well said. The more this truth is spoken, the more people will be saved. Hugs, Aaron.

Anonymous said...

My recently ex girlfriend has some mental illness & I believe that's why we're recently broken up. I went into the relationship knowing she had some issues with mental illness & I feel in love with her despite the mental illness. I still love her, probably always will & hope from a distance that our paths will cross again before she succeeds in assisting in her own demise. I think eventually someday she will succeed! Sadly. But I, like you, will always love her because I saw who she really was on her healthy, happy days! Good luck to you my friend! <3

Robin said...

Your candidness is refreshing. It's hard being a young widow/widower even without complicating circumstances. I'm in this with you as I lost my husband 13 months ago. I'm glad I ran accross your blog. It's healing to communicate with those who understand the pain. -Robin

Aaron Polson said...

James - Thanks. I can't hide from the truth.

Cathy - I hope so. Thanks.

Anon - Godspeed and I hope your paths do cross. Take care.

Aaron Polson said...

Cheers, Robin. Working with teenagers for the past 13 years, I've learned to be candid. Otherwise, they'll devour you whole. There's nothing a teenager wants more than to listen to an honest adult, and they can smell lies (and fear) from 500 paces.

Diana said...

My heart goes out to you and your family. I have lost many members of my family to mental illness. The last one most tragically for the whole family. It doesn't just leave scars on the one who is mentally ill, it leaves scars on us all. Thank you for having the courage to speak out.

May you and your family find peace and happiness.

Daniel W. Powell said...

I can only add that I'm in awe of your bravery and conviction. What a tremendous blog post, Aaron. Essays like this have a way of making a difference and, as you said, sharing your family's experience could have a profound impact on another family, even decades down the road.

Well done...

Myra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Myra said...

Aimee was my SHD at KU and I will always remember her as the fun, vibrant woman you described. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Thank you for sharing, Aaron! I, too, had postpartum depression after both pregnancies and have suffered from depression most of my life. I know how it can change me into somebody I wouldn't normally want to be. By your bravery and sharing, you're part of the solution of ending this horrible stigma of mental illness.


You and your boys are in my prayers. God bless.

Marc Stratton said...

Aaron, You're right to share this. The only shame that could come from the illness would be in denying others the truth. Through your honesty, you reach out to help others, for which you and Aimee have dedicated yourselves. Through your blog post you celebrate the Aimee we all valued, and from whom we continue to benefit.

Susan said...

I had never heard of postpartum psychosis. My heart aches for you and your family. Thank you for sharing.

Sara said...

Thanks for sharing the truth and standing up against the stigmas and crushing stereotypes. Anyone who knew Aimee knew she was not the pyshcosis that attacked her. Through sharing, others will know and Aimee would want so many to know. Her whole life was dedicated to helping people, it only makes sense to continue to help people through her. God I miss her and know she is and always has been proud and in love with your small town Kansas self.

JoLynn said...

Aaron,
Thank you so much for sharing this. In an odd way, your stories are comforting--if only to better understand the unimaginable. I will always remember Aimee as a caring, open, creative, whimsical woman! Post partum psychosis will not change that.

Deena said...

Thank you for writing this and talking about it. We all gotta start tallking about it. I don't have words for how sad and tragic this was for your family and our community. For me personally, loosing Aimee to mental illness has given me the strength and determination to talk about my own struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. I have to manage depression everyday and I'm not going to keep it a secret any more. It's not shameful. If I was managing another chronic disease, I would talk about it. It's horrible she had to die in order for me to find the stength to do this. I don't know Aimee as well as many others did but she has been part of my world for many, many years-her work, her reputation, her relationship to many of my friends. I feel liked I've always known her but really started talking when we started working for the school district at the same time and I followed her at Wakarusa. Thank you for sharing your journey

Jenny said...

Aaron, thank you so much for your candor. I knew Aimee from Douthart, and I actually saw you guys just 3 months ago at the Discovery Center and talked a long time with her. Whatever was going on in her brain, she hid it well, and while I'm not a psychiatrist, I am a physician, I also had PPD, and can usually pick up on these things. I can't help but think back to that day, Feb 4, (I know exactly when it was as we were there for my oldest son's birthday) and try to replay our conversation to see if I missed something. I have 3 boys, too, and I think about you and your 3 sons almost every day, wondering how you are getting along, how they are coping, and mostly wanted to find a way to reach out to you. I shared this tragedy at my church, and so many people came up to ask about you and offer their support. I wanted to tell them that I didn't know you well enough to know how I could help, so I do wish we have the chance to know each other better, but please, sincerely, if there is anything I or my church can do, we would like to help. But, truly, you are so brave to write and say exactly what you are thinking about her death, getting the word out, hopefully reaching someone else in need. I could barely read your post to my husband without crying... I'm not quite sure how your wrote it. Just over a week ago, I stopped in Lawrence on my way back to Topeka from KC, and, somewhat morbidly, I drove down near where she died, trying to make some sense of her mindset, wondering what could have been so bad to leave 3 little boys without a mommy. My chest gets tight if I even think about this for one minute, so I cannot fathom your extreme grief, nor do I know how you go on. Although I am sure you have had inumerable offers of help, and from her eulogies, I know you have great family and friends to offer some support, please know you have Topeka friends if you should ever find yourself here wanting some company.

Laurita said...

The first step to fighting monsters in knowing what they look like. Getting it out there into the light is an important thing.

Hugs.

Tracy Cohn said...

Aaron,

Aimee was the first person that I knew who had complex PPD. Knowing her and knowing her experience has profoundly shaped my capacity to understand the impact of mental illness on the family. I am a better person and a better clinician because of you and Aimee (your babies came after I moved).

With your permission, I'd like to use your experience and your narrative in the class I teach with clinical and counseling students.

I'm sending warm and gentle thoughts to you and your family.

Tracy

Aaron Polson said...

Tracy - Absolutely. If you need anything else from me, I'm here. I want to share Aimee's story and do what good it can.

Lane said...

Aaron, although only 1/10 of 1% of women suffer from postpartum psychosis, that's 1 in every 1000 births. That's a LOT of women (and families) suffering from postpartum psychosis for no one to really know about or understand this disorder. Thank you for your courage in sharing this painful part of Aimee's life on your blog.

From the responses of your readers to this blog post, I don't get the feeling that some of them understand the difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. The sudden onset of delusional, irrational thoughts that can compel a person to do extreme, unthinkable things is not postpartum depression. It is postpartum psychosis. While postpartum depression itself presents a difficult situation to manage and can end tragically, the unpredictable sudden onset and immediate life-threatening nature of postpartum psychosis makes it so much more dangerous and hard to control. It is truly an immediately life-threatening disorder, as the victim's ability to think rationally (and the ability of others to reason with them) is suddenly gone. The person is completely overtaken by delusional thoughts that often convince them to do something drastic. To make matters worse, women often suffer from both maladies simultaneously. Your extreme anxiety from the moment you found out about the pregnancy is completely understandable.

Given that just a few days before her death Aimee told someone she was looking forward to making a garden with her sons, it seems unlikely to me that she made the decision to end her life as a result of postpartum depression. While I don't know the exact details of what happened the night she died, I do know that people consciously contemplating suicide don't usually "look forward" to doing things.

To get a better sense of what happens during postpartum psychosis, there are a number of women who have shared their experiences with it. Anyone who wants to know more can Google the disorder and find their stories.

People who knew and worked with Aimee have been wondering the big question: "Why did this happen?" Many believe that she intentionally killed herself and are having trouble reconciling that idea with the giving, vibrant person they knew her to be and interacted with just days before she died. Aaron, I know you are hurting deeply right now and you have a myriad of responsibilities that are certainly a huge burden while you are grieving. But you DO have an opportunity here to educate a LOT of people and perhaps save some lives.

Aaron Polson said...

Lane - Absolutely... to everything you've shared. I originally wrote a segment in this post about our trip to the emergency room on April 1, but cut it. I sought help that day, and didn't receive it. We were sent home with a sleeping pill and note to call her psychiatrist.

Yes, psychosis isn't the "baby blues". It's sudden, scary, and a medical emergency. Her suicide was not an intentional act--I've never thought it was. It was a tragic result of a very, very frightening mental health condition.

Lane said...

Oh, Aaron, it's even more heartbreaking and infuriating to know that you sought help and it wasn't forthcoming. You did everything right and the medical system let you down. Unfortunately, Aimee isn't the first person to die because LMH turned away a person in a mental health crisis. She was in need of immediate hospitalization and it was denied. omg, this really pisses me off. No wonder you're "hulk smash" angry.

Jenny said...

Oh, that makes me so sad to think you had tried to get her some help just before she died and your concerns were not appropriately addressed! This is a definite learning experience for me, and I will forever be grateful that you have shared this. I am certain you are making a difference by opening up about it!

kc said...

Aaron,

As a fellow 3rd grade parent and someone who knew Aimee from college, I want to say thank you for this post and how incredibly brave it is to share. Aimee was my SHD at Douthart as well, and I suffered from depression the whole time I was there. I always felt I should have gone to talk to her, or sought help from someone, but I was too ashamed. I ended up dropping out of school, and eventually had a suicide attempt myself. I was fortunate to find my way to help after that, but it is a shame that there was and still is such a stigma about the complexities of our minds and mental illness - especially when it comes to something so severe and debilitating as post-partum psychosis. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family on this journey.

KC

Lane said...

Lawrence Memorial closed its mental health unit in 2004 because it wasn't profitable enough (much more money to be made doing cardiac procedures). Despite repeated requests to reopen the unit, they've refused to consider it. Since it closed, people in a mental health crisis have just been sent home, and more than one has died as a result. This is just criminal.

kc said...

Aaron,

As a fellow 3rd grade parent and someone who knew Aimee from college, I want to say thank you for this post and how incredibly brave it is to share. Aimee was my SHD at Douthart as well, and I suffered from depression the whole time I was there. I always felt I should have gone to talk to her, or sought help from someone, but I was too ashamed. I ended up dropping out of school, and eventually had a suicide attempt myself. I was fortunate to find my way to help after that, but it is a shame that there was and still is such a stigma about the complexities of our minds and mental illness - especially when it comes to something so severe and debilitating as post-partum psychosis. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family on this journey.

KC

Aaron Polson said...

KC, Lane, Jenny - It's a hard fight, but a worthy one. And Lane: I had no idea about the MH unit at LMH. Even more infuriating.

Sara Vancil said...

Aaron, first off, I didn't know Aimee although I know several folks who knew her personally and several folks that know you personally. So your family has been in my thoughts for weeks and weeks. To be honest, when I heard what happened, I cried and cried and cried. I cried for you, cried for your sons, cried for all those that Aimee touched...and I cried for myself because I knew that I came so close to that same place.

After the birth of my daughter in May 2010, I suffered severe PPD with some psychotic tendencies. Never did I have hallucinations or delusions but I did have those intrusive thoughts that many moms with PPD have--those ones where you see yourself hurting your child. I desperately wanted to just be gone, to just right this mistake I thought I had made...I felt adoption or suicide were the only answers. My husband has a long history himself with major depressive disorder and hospitalization so we might have rushed to hospitalize me too soon. But it was necessary. I did three separate 4-5 day stints that summer...two at Stormont Vail and one at Two Rivers in KC. None was particularly helpful other than for keeping me safe and letting me sleep and getting me out of what I thought was the end of my life as I knew it. After three months, a light turned on and I was able to pull myself out of it. To this day I don't know what turned on that switch.

Since that time, I have talked and talked and talked about it to anyone who would listen. I have never been ashamed or felt stigmatized. And I now KNOW that by speaking up, posting on Facebook, just not hiding it I have made a difference in others' lives...other women who have come to me and asked for help because of my candor. So I also KNOW that by posting this, you are also going to save lives.

On a different note, it infuriates me also that the ER would turn you away. I had a horrible experience in the LMH ER because the Bert Nash liaison just chose to never show up. I was in triage for four hours before finally being evaluated and transported to Topeka. Just ridiculous. I am happy to hear from LMH's own Mel Hoffman that there might be word of an inpatient facility in Kansas City that will just serve moms struggling with postpartum mood disorders...even a 10-bed dedicated facility, like the one recently opened in North Carolina, would be such a step in the positive direction...let's work to make it happen. Being in a treatment facility with those struggling with more "normal" mental illness as well as recovery from substance abuse is just not as useful to a mom with postpartum.

I want to do anything I can to help you and those that Aimee touched and yet left behind to make sure this tragedy does not go unanswered. If there will be any efforts to do something bigger to honor Aimee's memory and to help make it so others don't have to go through the same things, count me in.

TJ said...

Powerful post, Aaron. Thanks for sharing.

I'm giving you a virtual pat on the back. I recently lost an old friend and former bandmate to suicide, so the silence surrounding mental health issues has been heavy on my mind. Still have you and yours in my prayers every night. Take care of yourself and hug your kids tight, okay?

April Ramos, WRAP said...

Aaron, I want you to know that I am still thinking about you and Aimee and your boys. I miss Aimee everyday; especially her laugh which drove me crazy! I'm so glad that you are writing the truth; the truth about the disorder that killed Aimee and the truth about your struggles. I only pray that they are helping you 1/10th as much as they are helping me. The WRAP team met with Mel Hoffman from LMH at team on Wednesday and we hope to be able to affect some changes in this community in honor of Aimee, you and the boys! God bless you and please keep writing. It's helping, more than you'll ever know!

John said...

Aaron, I have lived through some of this. My partner too suffered similarly after our child was born. I vowed, like you, to see her through, to never stop loving her and caring for her. But it is incredibly challenging to remain oriented on a landscape that shifts and contorts with each new crisis and change of mood, affect and emotion. What is the best way to love someone who can't tell you what she needs? And what is the best path for her, our kids, our family, me? It was a long and torturous path for us, and every day was filled with uncertainty. We narrowly averted Aimee's fate. I feel that I understand some of the confused feelings and guilt you may be going through. I have them every day, even without the extreme tragedy that you have experienced. I am sure that Aimee was in great pain, and I hope you are able to remember that it was not about you. She indeed suffered from a disease that left her lost, isolated and very confused. Be sure to keep reminding yourself (and your boys) about that. I am so very sorry for your loss, and my heart is with you.

Barry Napier said...

I've read all of these posts but have commented on few because, quite frankly, I'm not so good with the words when they are not being made up on the fly and are about make believe worlds and situations.

But my own wife had a brief bout with post partem depression and even just that glimpse of it was enough to chill me. Kudos and medals of valor for you for being able to withstand your struggles with it.

Here's hoping for more healing. You and your boys remain in my prayers.

Katherine @ Postpartum Progress said...

Someone forwarded a link to me and I just read your story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I'm so heartbroken for your family. I will share your words far and wide, because this is the reason why it is so important to create more awareness about postpartum depression and psychosis. Please know that Postpartum Progress supports you and sends you love.

cspring said...

Aaron,
I'm a teacher new to Free State this year. Thank you so much for having the courage to love her totally and completely by telling the truth. You are right about working with teens and truth. They already know something else happened besides an accident.To honor Aimee this way is just plain beautiful. And gives me some strength, too.

FireMom said...

Thank you for telling her story -- your story -- an important story.

Em said...

Candid and beautiful words. Thank you for this. <3

Lindsay Maloan said...

Aaron, thank you for being so brave. I found your story via Postpartum Progress. This is why Katherine and her warrior moms fight the stigma-so people k iw how serious these things are, that real people like your family exist. Sending you peace and healing for your hearts.

JCG said...

Aaron, thanks so much. I know many teenagers are fighting to reconcile Aimee's death with the compassionate, caring, upbeat human being and confidante they knew at FSHS. I have struggled to find words for them, and now I feel equipped to really talk about this. And in that way that life goes on, these kids - in just a few short years - will be starting families of their own. I truly believe you are saving lives by beginning this important dialogue. I wish you and your family the best. Just know that we all grieve Aimee and are pulling for you and the boys.

Anonymous said...

This was me..by the grace of God I recovered..my heart is with you..thank u for your bravery and courage..

Tara said...

I came here via Katherine from Postpartum Progress as well. Saying "thank you" is not enough for sharing so boldly and bravely what you and your family have gone through and are going through, but getting the word out is key as so many others have said. Aimee sounds like she was an incredible woman and I look forward to meeting her in Heaven. Hugs and prayers as you grieve and heal in the days, months, and years ahead. Tara Mock, outofthevalley.org

Pamela Gold said...

So many husbands don't "get it". My PPD became my nightmare, Bipolar Disorder. Keep spreading the word.

Lane said...

Aaron, would you be willing for the administration at Free State to share information about Aimee with the students? The kids have been dealing with "the elephant in the room" ever since Aimee died. They know it wasn't accidental, but intentional suicide isn't easily reconciled with the Aimee they knew. So they are very confused. They're on the cusp of dealing with real world problems and this is a hugely teachable moment for them in learning that mental health issues can affect even the best of people. It's likely that at least one of the students in the school, if not more, will deal with a similar issue during their lifetime. Maybe you could send a little information to Ed West and ask him to communicate with the students? If you're not feeling up to writing it, I'm sure one of us on here would be glad to help. I hate to even ask this of you when you're already overburdened, but would you at least give permission for information to be shared?

Amanda said...

I am so sorry for your epic loss. I honor your courage, your loss and your generosity in sharing your story. Aimee's story.

Wishing you peace.

Jennifer said...

Aaron,
My heart goes out to you and your family. Thank you for sharing. I know the living hell of postpartum psychosis, first hand. I experienced it in 1996, 8 weeks after the birth of my son. Life will never be the same. I now do my part to increase awareness, prevention and treatment of mental health related to childbearing.
The illness is very isolating and scary. I wish your wife would have found the proper care and treatment she needed. So often postpartum psychosis is misdiagnosed as postpartum depression. I pray for peace and comfort for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

You are an incredible husband, father, and (whether you know it or not) advocate. This is one of the scariest places I've ever been as a new mother and was scared to "show" myself to my husband. When I asked him to take "one more week" off because I was afraid for mine and Rob's well-being, I was afraid he wouldn't take me seriously. I'm so glad he listened and that I'm here today.

As recently as last week, I had invasive thoughts of suicide and had to face them head-on. Again, it's a scary, scary place to be.

Please share Aimee's story and create awareness so that future moms and spouses can talk openly about this terrible affliction!

My heart is broken for you and your boys. I can't hold my tears as I try to fathom Aimee's state of mind at the time. I think I've been there but can't be sure (thank God). Take care, keep writing, and feel your feeling - it's important!

Anonymous said...

You are an incredible husband, father, and (whether you know it or not) advocate. This is one of the scariest places I've ever been as a new mother and was scared to "show" myself to my husband. When I asked him to take "one more week" off because I was afraid for mine and Rob's well-being, I was afraid he wouldn't take me seriously. I'm so glad he listened and that we're both here today.

As recently as last week, I had invasive thoughts of suicide and had to face them head-on. Again, it's a scary, scary place to be.

Please share Aimee's story and create awareness so that future moms and spouses can talk openly about this terrible affliction!

My heart is broken for you and your boys. I can't hold my tears as I try to fathom Aimee's state of mind at the time. I think I've been there but can't be sure (thank God). Take care, keep writing, and feel your feelings - it's important!

Shoppin' Cheryl said...

Thank you so much, Aaron, for sharing your story and Aimee's story. I was not aware of this psychosis and am thankful you are educating us. I'm praying for you, your families and everyone that Aimee touched. I appreciate you sharing your grief.

Coco Rogers said...

I found your post via Facebook. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for the loss of your lovely wife. I had a psychotic break and suicide attempt last year, so I understand a little of what she endured. Mental illness is a horror show. But by talking about stories like Aimee's, you bring more light to the shadowy corners of it. You bring it out to be talked about, understood, cared about.

I wish for more peaceful times for you and your children in the days and years to come. In the meantime, once again, I am so sorry.

Haley Holwick said...

Oh my gosh Mr. Polson. You are so brave to lay this out on the table like this. That's one thing that I think all of us students (past and present) admire so much about you. You're not afraid to speak your mind. I read all of your posts on here and my heart weeps for you and your family. I know you've heard this a million and one times but I am so sorry. And I know I speak for Jeri and myself when I say that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Dr. Heather R said...

Hi Aaron, Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. I don't know you or Aimee personally, but know of people who do (through Raintree & others in the community). I just did a webinar for early childhood professionals this morning focusing on perinatal mood disorders & talked about postpartum psychosis in hopes to raise awareness of the different illnesses women can experience after childbirth (someone mentioned your blog post). It saddens me so much to hear that you reached out for help & didn't receive what you & Amy needed. I'm with Lane-my anger wells up too. We have got to do better. As Sara Vancil said--If there will be any efforts to do something bigger to honor Aimee's memory and to help make it so others don't have to go through the same things, please count me in. Know that I am thinking of you & your family. Wishing you peace and hope.

Jennifer McNichols said...

Aaron. I know I will struggle with the right words to say here. I am so sorry... for you, for your boys, for Aimee, for everyone who knew and loved her. On October 1, 2010, I lost one of my very best friends to postpartum depression. She was 5 months postpartum - a first child that she'd struggled for 3 years to conceive and desperately wanted. I - we, all of us who knew her - will never, ever be the same. I'll spend Mother's day with her toddler, her husband & her parents. Mother's day will never be the same - knowing of the families who have lost Mamas to such a terrible disease. I was so excited to share the journey of motherhood with her. Anyway, I know there's really nothing I can say but I wrote a post about my friend if you want to read it: http://www.zrecommends.com/detail/missing-a-friend-today/

Anonymous said...

You don't know me but I too have suffered from PPD and want you to know how sorry I am that the medical community failed you. Failed your family. Thank you for speaking no yelling the truth! You are an inspiration ! Vanessa Baker

Aaron Polson said...

Lane - could you contact me (either via email, aaron_polson@hotmail.com or home phone 832-9546)?

suekush said...

What a beautiful woman your wife was and what a good man you are. I wish you much support in raising your sons and carrying your grief and theirs.

Susan Kushner Resnick
Sleepless Days: One Woman's Journey Through Postpartum Depression

kjl said...

Aaron--we've never met, but I'm a fellow Lawrencian who ended up at your blog after a friend re-tweeted the link today. After reading your story, I realized I had been praying for you last month when someone at our church put your family on the prayer request list. I just want to let you know that I'm still praying--now more than ever. I can't imagine what you and your sons are going through, but I'm praying that God would bring you peace.

Matt Kesinger said...

Aaron, thanks for sharing, no matter how difficult it may be. Mental health is an often overlooked facet of general well being. I have struggled with depression for years and have only recently seeked help, mostly because of the stigma attached to depression and my own selfish pride. I'm sorry for your loss and I can't imagine the depth of your pain. But speaking of my own depression and knowing the pain you have endured, if I can help only one person by sharing my story, it is worth it.

Matt Kesinger said...

Aaron, thanks for sharing, no matter how difficult it may be. Mental health is an often overlooked facet of general well being. I have struggled with depression for years and have only recently seeked help, mostly because of the stigma attached to depression and my own selfish pride. I'm sorry for your loss and I can't imagine the depth of your pain. But speaking of my own depression and knowing the pain you have endured, if I can help only one person by sharing my story, it is worth it.

Alex@LateEnough said...

Thank you for sharing Aimee's story. I can't tell you how important it is for more people to hear and know. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

Anonymous said...

Aaron it is a tragedy that when you sought help you were turned away. When I was suffering from post-partum psychosis my insurance had a mandatory 3 day stay as an in-patient. When people say they can't reconcile that someone they know would do something like this what they don't understand is that PPP takes over your mind. I compare it to being drugged. When you have PPP you are living in a surreal nightmare that is so out of touch with reality that you are no longer the same person. I remember what I was thinking at the time and it all seems so illogical now, but at the time it made perfect sense to me. My experience has given me new insight into mental illness. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Nice people get PPP and do things they would never normally do. It's not even really themselves doing it, it is like being possessed. The real you has taken a temporary leave of absence. I am so sorry you lost your wife to this illness. It is truly a monster. Since your wife had previously had PPP the doctors should have been treating prophylacticly with anti-psychotic medication during and after the pregnancy. I have had two different doctors tell me not to have any more kids. I still want one more, and if I ever did get pregnant I would have to be treated during the pregnancy and likely have my medication upped post-partum. Your story gives me great pause. It is a tragedy that your wife did not receive the proper treatment. Any OB/GYN should be well aware of the risks involved in someone who had a previous case of PPP. I am so sorry for your loss. We need to do more to raise awareness of PPP.

Robin | Farewell, Stranger said...

I'm applauding your bravery in sharing this story. I'm a PPD survivor and I know how important it is for people to know about illnesses like this, both for awareness and stigma busting. I'm so sorry for your loss, and I hope sharing this helps in your healing.

Jarmara Falconer said...

Peace be with you and your family and most of all your beautiful wife.

X

Anonymous said...

My wife has PPD. I love my wife and my kids are great. There were no signs with my first child, but PPD show up with my second child and then with the third child it was psychosis. I could see it coming like a train weak. I went to garage and cry. My wife wouldn't believe me and only listen to the bad advice of her girlfriend that had her own life issues. Finally after yelling at her to get help she went, but it all blew up. She left without see the doctor and next thing you know police were calling wondering where my wife was and was the kids ok or not. The cops, doctors, family members didn't know where she was for 2 hours and I just broke down. I just wanted my kids and wife home. I was reading all those about PPD psychosis and it's real!!! My wife got help and is on meds now. She's getting more sleep now but i'm watching out everyday for the psychosis to come back. Aimee's my wife age. AIMEE LOVE YOU AND THE KIDS!!!!

Lane said...

Excepts from LJW:

Inadequate access to mental health services emerges as top concern at first public forum
By Karrey Britt
on May 9, 2012

Residents gave their two cents about Douglas County’s top health issues, and they said limited access to mental health services was the No. 1 concern.

“So critical to thousands,” “We need a mental health ward in our hospital,” and “When you need mental health help, you need it now” were some of their messages.
About 60 people attended a 90-minute public forum Wednesday afternoon at the Community Health Facility that was hosted by the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. During the first hour, they heard about the results of a 38-page Community Health Assessment that was released last week by the health department.

The assessment identified 13 areas that were of concern to residents. Now, the department is holding public forums to narrow down the list.

Shirley Martin-Smith, health department board member, monitored the mental health board and listened to concerns. Some people said there was a lack of knowledge about available services while others said they had to leave town for higher levels of care. Others mentioned programs and services that had been cut. She said the comments were valuable and would help drive change.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has scheduled several public forums to discuss the findings of its Community Health Assessment. The remaining ones will be:

• May 15 — 7 p.m., Eudora Community Center, 1630 Elm St.
• May 16 — 7 p.m., Baldwin City Library, 800 Seventh St.
• May 17 — 7 p.m., Lawrence’s Community Health Facility, 200 Maine.

To view the full report, visit the health department’s website at ldchealth.org.

If you would like to weigh in on the issues, vote in our poll at WellCommons/polls, leave comments on this story, and/or visit Continue-the-Conversation.org. The health department is collecting information from all of the sources.

Danielle Ferries said...

Thanks for sharing, Aaron. My heart goes out to you guys. Words never seem enough but the love and happy memories are always there to help you get through.

Aaron Polson said...

Lane - I'll be there on Thursday the 17th. Thanks for the head's up.

D V said...

You are an incredibly eloquent writer.
Very powerful.
One of my closest friends suffered as your wife did. It was one of the hardest life events I have ever gone through as a friend. Happily, she recovered and is almost the same.
When I see her I will always say a blessing for you and your family.
Thank you for sharing.

Katey said...

I remember you talking about this in a vague way before--talking about writing as helping you to process things. I thought that was awesome of you, to share that. This is amazing.

There's not much I can say that hasn't been said, but I really want to thank you for writing this post. It's startlingly articulate on a subject that is beyond heartbreaking; that alone speaks to how important it is to you that this message be heard. It's important to all of us, now, too.

Grace said...

Sending thoughts and prayers for healing of deep wounds. Xo

Anonymous said...

healing blessings.

blissflower1969 said...

I was directed here from one of the other blogs I read. Peace to you and your family in your time of loss. Your ability to write and share your story can help others find the hope and help they need to keep fighting. Thank you for sharing- it's a story that needs to be told.

Rita said...

Aaron,
I was one of Aimee's clients in her private practice. She was such an insightful and deeply sensitive mental health professional.
I lost my 25 year old daughter this last November -- she suffered from bi-polar disorder and left town in a manic state. Her death was and still is a shock to all of us. My heart goes out to you and your boys.
You may or may not believe in the psychic dimension -- I certainly have reservations. But I spoke with a psychic medium last month, someone recommended to me by a member of my grief support group. This woman knew things about my family members that could not be attributed to coincidence. (Like knowing that my daughter used to buy me boxes of Hot Tamales for Mothers' Day.) I not only "spoke" to my daughter, but also to my late father, mother, and dear Aimee. Please e-mail me if you'd like to hear what she said, or with your permission, I will post it here. ritajbeyer@gmail.com