KS: I loved working at Coke. I had a great time working with so many smart, innovative people, some of whom have become dear friends. I just felt more pulled to do this work. It kept gnawing at me that I was so lost and confused when I was sick and I didn't want other women to feel like they had nowhere to turn. Finally, I decided to submit an essay about my experience to Newsweek and to my surprise it was published. A couple weeks later, printed in the "Letters to the Editor" section, there was a letter about my essay from Carol Blocker, whose daughter Melanie had committed suicide by jumping off of a hotel roof after a severe bout with PPD. Carol wrote that she wished Melanie had seen my essay. That hit me very deeply, and was a major inspiration for deciding to focus on doing what I could to help pregnant and new mothers.
Last year I got to take part in a celebration on Capitol Hill with Carol, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and other advocates after the passing of the Melanie Blocker Stokes Act, named after Carol's daughter, to support increased research and funding for postpartum depression. It was a very emotional day.
MORE: What's next for you?
KS: I have recently taken the leap to start a non-profit. It scares the heck out of me and is really forcing me out beyond my comfort zone, but I'm still seeing a lack of awareness and resources for pregnant and new moms who suffer. Did you know more women will suffer from mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth annually than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy?
Only 15 percent of the 1 million moms who get perinatal mood and anxiety disorders every year receive professional treatment. That's a serious public health issue, given what we know about the negative long-term effects of these illnesses on both mother and baby. Children of mothers with untreated PPD can have cognitive delays and future mental illness themselves. We can fix this, but we can only succeed if more women -- not just survivors -- recognize how important this issue is to the health of America's families and join with us to offer their support.
Katherine Stone, 41 is the founder and author of the blog, "Postpartum Progress," which is dedicated to shedding light on postpartum depression and the mental health of mothers. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, Frank, and her son, Jackson, 9, and daughter Madden, 5. Follow Katherine Stone on Twitter.
Don’t miss out on MORE great articles like this one. Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter!