Tag: medical

Erika Tordsen 

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

In 2019, my husband Tyler and I were expecting our first baby, due in March 2020. A baby boy. We were over the moon scared, nervous, and everything in between to become parents but excited, nonetheless. Then the pandemic restrictions happened the week I gave birth, so Tyler was the only one allowed in the room for our son’s birth. All of my feelings of excitement and happiness were quickly replaced with uncertainty and sadness. The months that followed our son’s birth were the darkest months of my life. I was a new mom who wasn’t able to have the help of family or friends because we just didn’t know what was going to happen next. Is this new virus going to kill my baby? Is my husband, who has a pre-existing condition, going to die if he gets it? We had so much worry and fear during that time that we never truly got to enjoy being first-time parents and all the joys that come with it.
 

I lost myself in postpartum anxiety and cried every single day for months. Phone calls, FaceTiming, and texting just weren’t enough. I was happiest when I was asleep because I didn’t have to feel all of the worry and fear. I constantly looked on social media and compared myself to other mothers. I felt “less than” because I was struggling, forgotten because no one could come to see us, and cheated because of the pandemic. Fortunately, I have a great husband who was patient with me and understood that I was hurting and struggling. He took care of me and allowed me to feel things without question. During that time, I found a new purpose of being a mother and I wanted to be better for my son. Eventually, I was able to get past the worry and fear, and as we started to learn more about COVID, I could enjoy being just a mama finally. We won’t remember 2020 as the year of COVID-19 but as the year of our son, Emmett. And although it took a while, I was able to feel like myself again, and a year and a half later, our second son was born. He gave me the experience I was supposed to have but both experiences shaped me into the mother I am today and I’m forever grateful for my two boys and my supportive husband. 

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

During the first few weeks after giving birth, my lactation consultant helped with the breastfeeding piece and reassured me that I was doing it correctly because that was a challenge in itself. Since everything was virtual, I reached out to family and friends via phone for support and made a post on my social media, which led to other mothers reaching out. They gave advice and shared their struggles too. After that, I created a Facebook group for moms to be able to ask questions and seek advice from other mothers without judgment or question. I started seeing a therapist who turned out not to be the right fit, so I asked questions and made a switch to my current therapist who is amazing! She is perfect for my needs on the mental health piece of it and also culturally. 

 

 

Think about the system that affects our mental health in our society, including aspects that are damaging to mental health and aspects of the system that improve mental health. Based on your experience, how might we improve that system to build resilience and better address the mental health needs of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities? 

I would love to see more awareness about the differences between postpartum depression, anxiety, baby blues, etc. We get pamphlets and words that explain what these are but actually hearing from a mother who experienced this before a mom gives birth would be 10 times more helpful. We are raising the next generation, and it is the hardest job. I wish I had someone to tell me the straight-up truth about how differently I would feel after giving birth. The fourth trimester is the hardest one of them all. 

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

It’s okay to rest and take care of yourself. We live in a society where hustle culture is glorified and if you’re not grinding, you’re failing. It’s not a bad thing to be ambitious and a go-getter, but it’s also okay to take a break, breathe, and reset. 

 

Jasmin Fosheim

What is the story related to mental health, suicide, and/or resilience that you’d like to share?

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for around six years, brought on by a high-stress job and a drive to achieve that manifests in never feeling like I’m enough. I’ve learned to overcome these challenges with various resources and lifestyle changes, and I’ve grown in so many ways as a result.

When I had my first child, Josie, in 2020 in the middle of COVID-19, I found that not only would I continue to battle my anxiety and depression, but I was also thrown into the tornado that is postpartum depression and anxiety. I climbed my way out, however, and went on to continue to grow and thrive.

Two years later, I found myself in the middle of moving from Hettinger, ND to Pierre, SD, switching careers, and managing major health issues with my daughter Josie and myself (including gallbladder removal at 30 weeks pregnant). When I went into preterm labor at 33 weeks the night after moving the remainder of our belongings from Hettinger to Pierre, I began the most challenging mental health battle of my life. Caring from afar for a toddler who couldn’t understand why mommy and daddy disappeared for over a month was heart-wrenching, and her mental health tanked. Spending time in the NICU in the midst of a move and career change for over a month was almost more than I could handle. And the postpartum anxiety and depression that overwhelmed me when I finally arrived home with my family, all of us shaken to our core, nearly broke me.

I persevered, however, and am now thriving with two healthy babies and a happy family in my hometown. The journey to get here, though, was the toughest thing I’ve ever experienced.

 

What resources have helped you to address this challenge?

Having a mom support group of friends who were also moms was immensely helpful. In addition, I accessed counseling and medications, and I had an OBGYN who was an AMAZING advocate for mental health care postpartum for both moms and dads.

Think about the system that affects our mental health in our society, including aspects that are damaging to mental health and aspects of the system that improve mental health. Based on your experience, how might we improve that system to build resilience and better address the mental health needs of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities?

People need to see the people who are seemingly happy and successful sharing their vulnerabilities and the steps they’ve taken to better themselves. Without that exposure, people will continue to believe mental health care isn’t for them. In addition, rural access to mental health care is atrocious, and the fact that health care costs could ever be a deterrent for people pursuing mental health services is a gross injustice in the system of mental health and healthcare in general. We need people brave enough to share their journey (which is why this project is AMAZING, and I’ve thought so since its inaugural year), communities willing to invest innovatively to ensure services are available, and systemic change that ensures affordability of services that are vital to survival for many.

 

What is one thing related to mental health, suicide, or resilience that you wish everyone could understand?

Mental health care is for everyone, and everyone can benefit from therapy. Connect with a counselor now so when the days are dark and getting out of bed is hard you’re not having to seek someone out and overcome the obstacles of the system. Having a relationship established when you’re OK makes reaching out and getting help when you’re not OK SO much easier.