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Support group helped one mom rise from 'deep black hole' of postpartum depression

Jodi Pelman, a Raleigh mom of two, found support from Moms Supporting Mom. The long-time program will hold a StrollerThon fundraiser this Saturday. Learn more about Pelman's story.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Jodi Pelman, a Raleigh mom of two, had never really given postpartum depression much thought. She had some weepy moments after the birth of her first child three years ago. But they came and went amid those sleepless nights and newborn moments.

"I had heard of postpartum depression," she tells me. "I didn't really believe in it."

That all changed after the birth of her son a year ago. The first months had been tough. He was often sick with a variety of ailments. She spent her days at doctor appointments and pharmacies and searching online for answers to his illnesses.

The crying, anxiety and depression weren't immediate for Pelman. They came a couple of months after the birth. She felt overwhelmed, guilty, exhausted and constantly sick to her stomach. She cried many times a day. And she was anxious. She obsessively timed her sons feedings and set alarms for when to feed him and wake him and when she should wake and sleep.

Even with the support of her husband and family, she couldn't shake the depression.

"I knew what I was doing felt wrong, but I couldn't control myself," she tells me.

"I felt like I was living in a deep black hole and struggling not to sink deeper," she wrote of her experience. "I was scared to be alone with both children, scared to leave the house, and scared to admit that I needed help and wasn't as strong as I thought."

What she now calls her breakdown came Oct. 26, 2010. It had been a really bad morning. Her son was sick again. She called her mother over.

"She opened up the door and I was bawling my eyes out," she remembers. "She said, 'call the doctor.'"

Pelman did. The doctor saw her that afternoon and immediately prescribed Zoloft, an antidepressant. Pelman, who is active in the TriangleMommies.com online community, learned through the group about Moms Supporting Moms, a weekly support group for women suffering from postpartum depression.

The peer-facilitated support group started in 1998 to help moms suffering from postpartum mood disorders. It was started by a mom after she struggled to find help when she was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety after the births of both her children. It is now the signature program for the Raleigh-based nonprofit Postpartum Education and Support.

Pelman went to her first Moms Supporting Moms meeting the week of her breakdown and found immediate bonds with the other women there.

"It was so welcoming," she says. "They got what I was feeling."

Today, Pelman is doing much better. She is working toward becoming a facilitator for Moms Supporting Moms.

"Now that my eyes have been opened, I want to help people learn about it," she says.

To learn more about Moms Supporting Moms, click here to go to the website. The group also provides telephone support for moms and their family members who have questions or need help between meetings. Call the group's telephone support line at 919-454-6946 for more information about meetings or how to find additional medical help.
To raise money for its programs, Postpartum Education and Support will hold its 2011 StrollerThon fundraiser this Saturday, Oct. 1, at Crowder Park in Apex. The event includes a timed 5K, along with a fun walk around the perimeter of the park. There will be tot trot races, a raffle drawing, a variety of activities for kids and more. Check the website for details, including registration information.

Watch the video to hear more from Pelman about her experience and how Moms Supporting Moms has helped her recover.

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