Do you ever think of yourself as just a parent? Do you see things that need to be recognized or changed but feel that as one person you really cant make a difference? Meet Shauna Jensen.
Shauna Jensen is a full-time mom and a professional hydrologist in a government agency and this year she made a big difference.
Shaunas story starts out years ago when, as a thirty-something, she and her husband decided they wanted to start a family. Unfortunately for them, creating a family would be a slow and difficult endeavor with miscarriages complicating the process. After one particularly painful time Shauna decided to give up. Thats when she saw the heartbeat. She hadnt miscarried after all and carried this baby full term.
After the baby was born, Shauna experienced symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is a serious form of depression that can last up to a year after giving birth and that can manifest itself in many of the typical forms of clinical depression including: loss of appetite, insomnia, intense irritability and anger, overwhelming fatigue or severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawal and even suicide. She talked with her doctor about it and her doctor gave her a prescription for estrogen. Soon afterwards, the symptoms disappeared.
A couple of years later, Shauna was pregnant with her second child. She spoke with her doctor about the postpartum depression and she was given antidepressants a few months before the baby was born. It really seemed to help. Noticing no symptoms of postpartum depression, she quit taking the medication several months after the birth of her second child, but PPD can persist for quite a long time after birth and it was too soon for Shauna.
Looking back, Shauna can point out when things started to spiral out of control. However, at the time, she tried to hold it all together and keep it to herself. She became overwhelmed and exhausted and eventually it overcame her abilities to cope and she crashed. It was a long and painful recovery back. With the help of medication and therapy, Shauna did more than survive; she thrived. In the end, one important thing she learned was how to prioritize life.
She thought all of this was behind her until, upon the recommendation of a friend, Shauna and her husband signed up for Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI), a leadership skill-building opportunity provided by Montelores Early Childhood Council and other community organizations to help empower family leaders. FLTI is a 20 week curriculum which provides the opportunity for participants to gain skills in making change. It has no political ties to any party, but is about understanding and making change from the local to the federal level. It is about gaining power and knowledge and confidence to make change. Part of the requirement for graduation is to create and implement a community project of your choice.Facilitators assist participants in making connections in the community that will help them successfully complete their projects.
The first day of the training is held on a Saturday. It is a day-long retreat where facilitators and participants get to know each other and the structure of the training is explained. During one of the exercises, Shauna had an inspiration that her project should focus on PPD.
The 20-week FLTI program helped Shauna to design and implement her program. Through the program, Shauna contacted Casie LaMunyon at Axis Health System. Shauna attended the Early Childhood Fair with Casie where they administered the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Screening to women with children from 0-18 months. National statistics show that approximately 8-12% of new mothers suffer from moderate to severe postpartum depression. The statistics from the Early Childhood Fair show a higher percentage in our area, 15-21%. These women were given resources to get help and find out more information.
Shauna hopes that by sharing her story, mothers who need to know about PPD and get help will be assisted. If even one mother gets help, then all of her efforts will have been worth it. You dont have to do it alone.
For more information on postpartum depression or to take the screening online, go tohttp://www.womensmentalhealth.org/quiz-are-you-suffering-from-postpartum-depression. For more information on becoming a part of the next FLTI class, contact Vangi McCoy firstname.lastname@example.org.
Polly Sikora MA, LPC is married and the mother of two. She is a facilitator for FLTI and a mental health therapist in Cortez.