Celeste Chapko: Evidenced-based Research Means our Daughters will Have a Different Reality
My name is Celeste Chapko and I am SO excited to be joining the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative as a Patient Expert Advisor. My experience with maternal mental health began when I was pregnant with my daughter, just over five years ago. When I was seven months pregnant with her, I started to experience rage and anxiety. She was my third child and I’d never had this experience with my others.
I went to therapy and my therapist mentioned that I might deal with postpartum depression after the birth, but she was pretty sure I would be just fine. I really had NO IDEA what lay ahead. I had never been screened for postpartum depression with my first two children, nor was I aware of the prenatal risk factors (of which I had many). I was a clear candidate for postpartum depression and anxiety and unfortunately, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
My Postpartum Experience
After my daughter was born, I struggled with debilitating depression and anxiety. I felt like I was drowning at all times. I had very scary intrusive thoughts and I could NOT function. When I was seven months postpartum, I admitted myself to the psychiatric unit. I felt like I had no other options. I couldn’t find anyone who would really listen to me. I couldn’t find anyone who had walked in my shoes before. What was wrong with me? Was I just crazy?
I was in hospital for five days and came out with four different medications and a referral to a psychiatrist. I was so scared I would never be able to feel like myself again. I was so scared I would not be able to raise my children. I felt hopeless. There were so many unanswered questions.
I spent a year trying to find the right cocktail of meds and went from provider to provider trying to get answers. Finally I found a peer support group, a therapist and naturopath. Through the process I had to learn to be my own mental health advocate. I finally achieved mental wellness. It took years and I still deal with some anxiety, but I am well.
Finding My Passion
THIS is why I advocate for moms with postpartum depression.
THIS is why I am passionate about increasing the education and decreasing the stigma surrounding postpartum depression.
THIS is why I believe so strongly in peer support.
Risk Factors and Research
Would knowing about the risk factors surrounding postpartum depression have made a difference? YES.
Would a postpartum screening at the hospital and at my six week postpartum check-up have made a difference? YES.
Would a peer support group have made a difference? YES.
Research is SO IMPORTANT. Evidenced based research creates CHANGE.
Evidenced based research means our daughters will have a different reality. Our daughters will have support and resources at their fingertips. Our daughters will not have to spend years searching for the right treatment.
The Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative is opening the door and creating pathways of change. One patient, one provider, one collaboration at a time. I’m not waiting and watching. I’m stepping right through that door and getting to work!