More Lives Lost With Tragedy in Winnipeg

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Lisa Gibson

Lisa Gibson

I just spent five days in Chicago at the BlogHer conference, seeing fellow Warrior Moms like Cristi Comes, Jen Gaskell, A’Driane Nieves, Alexandra Rosas, Morgan Shanahan and many more. I also talked the ear off of many a woman about postpartum depression, as you might imagine I would.

And then I come home to find another tragedy has occurred. Another mother and two children lost to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, this time in Winnipeg, Canada. I’m so terribly sorry (and ANGRY) for the loss of Lisa Gibson and her children Nicholas and Anna. It’s unacceptable.

You can learn what happened here (just please know it is upsetting, so if you’re not in a place to handle that don’t read it), and you can learn about Nicole Gamble, a mom and nurse in the Winnipeg area trying to do more to support those with PPD and related illnesses here.

This is why we can never quit. Not ever.

Update 7/30/13:

According to CTV News, “[Gibson was] on medication for postpartum depression now, but with her first child she had it so severe she was hospitalized. Kennedy said resources were hard to come by.” This … THIS! If Gibson had been hospitalized the first time with either postpartum psychosis or postpartum depression with psychotic features or severe PPD, that’s someone everyone around her should have known and made sure she was protected and cared for and treated and helped during her the first year of her second baby.

She probably knew she was going downhill and felt there was nothing to save her or her children. This breaks my heart.

 

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. MaryLouise Torres says:

    This is so sad….we all need to be aware of symptoms so something can be done before tragedy strikes. My husband was aware ahead of time…that is why tragedy did not happen for me and my family. Where I live, there was an article about a women who put herself and her baby in her car and drove recklessly through backyards and people’s property. There was a report prior to that incident that she intended to harm her baby. I made a comment on the article that she just might have PPD…not one person, not even the reporter who wrote the article, commented on that. All anyone else was concerned about regarding the article was an error made on the name of the street…SMH….I really think I am going to email this reporter to see if he knows what happened to this woman (besides being charged) and her baby. Thank You for this blog and these articles…they really need to be shared with everyone.

    • Yes you are right we do need to watch for symptoms and she showed the worst. She was prescribed an antidepressant the week before and she took it. That is the biggest factor in these cases since according to the package inserts these drugs produce psychosis at a ten times greater rate than PPD does.

      • I know that you are openly against the use of antidepressants, Ann, and I welcome your opinion here even though I disagree with it and I imagine most experts on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders would as well. I don’t know who prescribed to Lisa Gibson, or what they prescribed, or what the dosage was, or whether it was the right medication, or whether she even took any medication whether or not it was prescribed to her (many women don’t). It may in fact be that she already had psychosis, or that what was prescribed to her was the wrong thing or ineffective, which would mean that it wasn’t the medication that was the problem, but the prescriber. Or the illness itself, of course. I’m not sure where you get your evidence that antidepressants medications are the “biggest factor in these cases” or that it’s medication that is causing postpartum psychosis and preventable tragedy.

  2. It breaks my heart. I live in Victoria and am a two-time survivor of ppd (it doesn’t deserve capital letters). My youngest is two and I am strong now. Very strong. So far I’ve avoided talk of ppd on my blog but after this story I am pushed to act, somehow.

  3. A tragedy. I am disappointed that the article from her local newspaper referenced “postpartum depression.” Women with OLD typically don’t harm their children. Postpartum psychosis causes the harm-filled delusions and actions. I know that this isn’t the point of the story. Still, it continues to give OLD and related illnesses an unfortunate and unnecessary stigma.

  4. You are so right Katherine. we can never quit. Not ever.

  5. This is such an awful, sickening tragedy. I hate you, postpartum disease! I hate you for what you did to me, my babies, my family, my worklife, my body, all of it. I hate you for ripping up other families forever and for killing loving, caring mothers that you lied to and made them feel worthless. Keep fighting, all of you. Don’t give up; seek treatment and support. Log in to this very website to see we’re all like you. You are loved and needed. The head of the Canadian Schizophrenia Society is putting pressure on the province of Manitoba for an inquest to be called into Lisa Gibson’s death. (Not because this mom was schizophrenic, but because a mental illness was involved in this tragedy).The hope is that an inquest will lead to real change in the medical community and society at large into how postpartum disease is treated and supported. I hope that happens.

    • Me too, Lisa. I hope they take a close look at what the protocols were, and who Lisa called and how she was helped and whether that help was effective and whether this whole tragedy could have been prevented. It’s so important to learn from what happened here. Still, I know that won’t help the families directly affected by this and for them my heart breaks. ~ K

  6. melissa miller says:

    I was also hospitalized after giving birth withPPP. I chose not to have any more children because of it. It is an awful feeling to have. I was lucky I got help when I needed it. Hope we can spread more awareness

    • Melissa, you are amazing! A survivor!! A hero!! Yes, you are!! I am so glad you made it and so happy your child still has a mom. These are the stories we need to tell more often. Thank you for you!

  7. My heart breaks for her family. Especially because I KNOW that these illnesses are treatable. That with proper care, she and her children would still be here.

  8. This is very sad news, but it does remind me that we need to keep talking and DOING what we can about maternal mental health. This story is in the news and all over the internet, yet did Climb Out of the Darkness get this much coverage? Did the PSI annual conference make headlines across the country? In the shadow of this tragic event, I will continue doing what I can to raise awareness of these serious illnesses that can be treated. Wishing all readers much peace today!

  9. This is so tragic and you are so right we can never quit! We must keep educating and caring. Bx

  10. Devastating. My family sometimes asks why I am still so active on postpartum support boards even though I have recovered. This is why – I remember how awful PPA//PPD was, it was pure hell and I was so sure I would never get better. But I did, and if I can help just one other mommy know that she will recover, too, then it was worth it.

    • I know what you mean Maggi. That’s why I think survivors of PPD hold the key – we have the energy and the passion and the dedication it’s going to take to make change. ~ K

      • Katherine, you were part of my recovery! I reached out to you via email when I was in the depths of insomnia and anxiety, and you wrote right back, and you were so compassionate. You told me I would get better, and I did. Thank you!

  11. I see a lot of hypocrisy here. If the mother were to have survived and the children, alone, died, she would be incarcerated via penal system and/or a psychiatric institution. Same if the children and mother were to have survived any attempt. No one would be shouting how mad they are except to vilify and eternally condemn the mother. After any such attempt, her rate of survival decreases and she’ll always carry a high risk of future attempted suicides.

    I know, I was in that situation. Did anyone step forward and try to help my children? Do you think in the custody of their father, as erroneously assumed by the Court panned out well? No!

    Help the surviving family members. Support them in helping to understand what could have gone wrong. Hey, I was seeing a nationally recognized “expert” at the time. Everyone claimed to have “known” that something was wrong, but chose to look the other way. Even this self-proclaimed expert bailed as soon as he learned what had happened.

    Do you remember the most recent national case in NY where the least expected type of mother of all plunged to her death with her baby strapped to her? I found it atrocious that everyone around her claimed to have been absolutely CLUELESS about the signs this mother was exhibiting that were clearly out of the norm for her. Her baby was ten months old and she was within the first year postpartum with so clear OCD/Anxiety symptoms with delusional thought processes. They didn’t develop overnight…she had been shifting in and out of this for some period. She didn’t experience psychosis; she had severe ppd clear psychotic features. (I use the word, “clear” for lack of a better word).

    • Actually, Joelle, we would absolutely NOT have villified her here. We believe postpartum psychosis and postpartum depression/anxiety and postpartum depression with psychotic features are REAL illnesses, and the mothers who have them deserve help and support and effective treatment. If they don’t get it and something tragic happens, we believe very strongly that such tragedies were not their fault. No villification.

      ~ Katherine

  12. So sad. We are not alone. We can raise awareness. We will make change happen.

  13. This woman’s story really struck a cord with me. I wrote about it last Friday, before they actually found her. I ached for her. I still do. People like us gotta stick together, you know? I feel like I’ve lost someone even though I never met her.

  14. No one said YOU would villify her, BUT that she would have been villified. BUT, as a postpartum progress community, you wouldn’t have supported her, either, but rather be tortured through any penal system, without support. You missed, my offering of my own experience. In the ten years that I fought to re-build my life and see my children through the Courts, which don’t agree with the idea of perinatal mood disorder mitigtion, and asked for SOME help from people such as yourselves, my pleadings went unanswered. As a community you turned a blind eye to the survivors. Forget me, there were children here that you also ignored. That was the most brutal, slap-in-the-face insult to them and their fate. SO PLEASE STOP THE HYPOCRISY!!!

    • Actually Joelle, Postpartum Support International has a special program to support women in the penal system because of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. You can learn more about it here: http://postpartum.net/Get-Help/PenPal-Network-for-Incarcerated-Women.aspx

      Other than provide moral support, it is sadly very difficult to do much else for women who end up in the penal system. Once the courts make a decision it is difficult to undo it, or for our community to be able to have some effect on it. I am grateful that these days we have people like Susan Stone, Diana Lynn Barnes and others who serve as forensic experts in these cases from the start in order to prevent women from going to jail in the first place.

      You are clearly very angry about what happened to you and I’m so sorry that you feel you were not supported. As a community we are doing our best to raise awareness, along with others who are trying to make sure physicians are better education, so that women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders won’t have a similar experience.

      ~ K

      • I’ve been out for SEVERAL years now and now and am very familiar w/ PSI’s penpal network…not very helpful when you’re out or had little time in……….so you’re saying, once a survivor is out, there’s no point in seeking help or support to get a mother assistance in the legal system. NO WONDER there’s very little chance in survival rate, post. If the mother of this story featured had any glimpse and realization of what happened and the fate of her children, her best way OUT was to take her life. She would have had little support from society, including this one (blog community). There is no crueler hell then living in the netherworld, between life and death.

        And to the surviving children, you don’t believe in helping them either? Do you realize that a child (adult-to-be) has a 50% statistical rate of suicide attempt and/or success when a parent takes his/her life? HELLO?

        • I’m confused as to why you are directing so much anger towards Katherine, someone who devotes much of her life to helping women who are enduring the brutalities of PPA, PPD, PPOCD, and PPP.

          Very few people take the time to understand what drives women to harm their children (or attempt to) as part of a postpartum mental illness. Katherine works tirelessly to shift the stigma and bring light where there has been so much darkness.

          Your voice is an important part of that, Joelle. None of us here know your story, or what you and your family have had to endure. But we all come to this community with open hearts and minds, and view one another through a lens of compassion.

          I lost a beloved family member to suicide and am well-versed in the ramifications it could have on his children and others who loved him. Mental illness is brutal; it has turned my life and the lives of those I love upside down over the years. I can’t imagine anyone in this community, and Katherine in particular, would deny the importance of helping surviving children. The mantra of those of us fighting for women with postpartum mood disorders is that it affects the whole family, not just the woman.

  15. This makes me sick to my stomach. I wish people would realize that this is real! We are too busy trying to put band aids on the issue instead of fixing it. I suffered twice with PPA and I didn’t want to live anymore. I’m so lucky I had family to help so I didn’t end up like this woman. When will the world realize it is so real!!!

  16. Hi I just wanted to comment, as someone who also lives in Winnipeg and is struggling with depression right now. This story touched our community so strongly that a group of families in a Facebook group (including myself) decided to put together a slideshow to raise PPMD awareness. We’d be so honoured if you shared it on your blog and/or Facebook page. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from creating the video, from mothers telling us that they had no idea what they had was PPD until they saw the video, and now they’re going to seek help. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkLaJYVl7Yw

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