On this episode of the Real Happy Mom Podcast, I am talking to Diana Collins.
Diana is opening up and sharing her story of suicide and postpartum depression.
The best part is she is going to share with us how we can be that light for our friends and family members battling suicidal thoughts
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Diana is the founder of the Always With Me Foundation. She is also a mom to two little girls and a wife to her best friend.
She actually met her husband in LasVegas on Fremont Street. If you are not familiar with Las Vegas, Fremont Street is downtown where all of the casinos can be found.
Diana started the Always With Me Foundation after the tragedy of losing her best friend, Sabrina, to suicide.
Sabrina suffered from severe postpartum depression and lost her life to suicide on March 1, 2016. The part of the story that makes this extremely difficult is Diana was seven months pregnant with her second daughter when she heard the news.
What Diana didn’t know is that she would suffer from postpartum depression as well.
Had I known about this illness. Had I known the warning signs and how I could have been triggered. Because, you know, hello, I lost my best friend. And then two months later, I’m giving birth to my daughter. I did not handle that very well. I basically went and hit rock bottom. Trying to grieve a loss. A severe tragic loss and then trying to be a mom to this newborn baby and another baby who was one and a half years old.
As a result of this tragedy, the Always With Me Podcast was born.
I remember when I was in the darkest, darkest time of my postpartum. And I always kept Sabrina close to me and I still do until this day, even after three years, she’s always been my mentor and my guidance. She’s always been my light to survive and walk through this. And that’s where it came from. You know, she like in the back of my mind, she was always with me.
During this dark time, Diana felt alone. Diana started the podcast because she wanted to hear more stories like hers to be reassured that she was not alone.
She found that her story is rare, but the story of mothers dealing with postpartum depression is all too common.
I wanted a way to help prevent moms from going to that dark place, from going into PPD or anxiety or any type of mental health issue. I wanted a way to prevent more deaths happening to these moms.
Have you heard of this?
Then Diana shared something that I had never heard of before but wished I did 7 years ago. That is a postpartum doula.
And it’s like you’re discharged from the hospital and they’re like, good luck with you and everything. You know, you’re supposed to know what you’re supposed to be doing. I’m sorry, but there’s no books out there that tells you exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. And you know, and the biggest thing is, is that a lot of these moms, especially military moms, they are in a situation where they don’t have the support.
Postpartum doulas are that support. They come into the home and help where ever is needed. From light duties around the houses to giving mom a break so that she can get some rest.
Unfortunately, this is not a covered benefit of insurance. But Diana believes that all moms need this. And so do I.
That is why she works so hard in her foundation to provide this service for as many moms as possible.
A new perspective
What Sabrina had given me or gifted me after her death was a new perspective on life.
Diana was your typical working mom. Going to work from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. She would come home and do her evening routine of bathing, feeding and putting the kids to bed.
The problem was she wasn’t present and was just going through the motion.
Diana always wanted to be home with her kids. But she didn’t know how to make that happen.
But how could I, when I was so broken with this loss, my heart was so broken, my mind was not there. And I just lost it.
Finally, Diana looked at herself after Sabrina’s death and said enough is enough.
Life is too short to be living a life that you don’t enjoy and is not fulfilling.
Sabrina died at 26 and that she painted this picture of are they all fit this picture of like live your life now, be happy now. Don’t wait for that perfect moment because that perfect moment may not be there tomorrow.
If you are reading this and suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, start living your best life now. Create the life you want and love now.
That was how I kept pushing myself forward and living in the moment and, and really just stop living a life that society told me to live. And here I am today. Although I’m still a working progress, I am so much happier and more joyful than I was three years ago.
Diana’s best advice is to collect all of those tiny moments and store them in your memories.
The mundane moments like giving the kids a bath. Or helping them get dressed in the morning and spending quality time.
Keep all of those memories because kids grow up fast and you don’t want to miss those moments.
How to support a family or friend dealing with suicidal thoughts
Diana shared some helpful tips on how to support your friend or family member that is battling suicidal thoughts.
Of course, we want to be supportive, but sometimes we just don’t know how. Or their thoughts don’t make sense so it is hard to sympathize with them.
Here are a few things to avoid saying if someone expresses that they are having suicidal thoughts:
- “That’s a stupid idea”
- “Why would you ever think that way”
- “Think about your children”
First of all, the first two comments just hurt even more than you know. So please avoid saying those things.
When you tell someone who has suicidal thoughts to think about their children this can push them even more. The reason is in their mind they have already been convinced that their children are better off without them.
And for me it was like, I already thought about them. I’ve already confirmed it. Like not me, like the depression. The demons, what have you, the negative thoughts had already told me, “Girlfriend, they don’t need you here.” They already told me that. Yeah, I mean of course we do think about our children. Of course that was, that’s one of the first things we think about.
What to do or say instead:
- Be a listening ear
- Give them a hug
- Tell them how much you love them
- Tell them how much they are loved and valued
- Be empathetic
- Encourage them to seek help
For the friend or family member that hasn’t expressed that they are having suicidal thoughts be aware of the signs.
So isolation is a big one for me. It’s interesting to look at my experience and then, and then look at Sabrina when she was going through this, because she never told me. And what I saw was isolation.
Diana gives the example of the friend that becomes super flaky and cancels or doesn’t so up for coffee dates.
Instead of getting mad and writing your friend off, check on her. Asking here what’s going on. Or let her know that you are available if she wants to talk.