Melanie Stokes become pregnant, she seemed to have everything in place.
She was a successful pharmaceutical sales manager happily married to
a physician. She had a supportive family and her share of brains and
beauty. She was a radiant pregnant woman, eager to meet the child inside
of her and to begin her new life as a mother.
On February 23, 2001, Sommer Skyy was born, beautiful and healthy. But
Melanie's mother, Carol, realized something wasn't quite right with
her daughter. Melanie, who had dreamed all her life of holding her baby
girl in her arms, didn't seem to know how to respond to her dream becoming
a reality. Carol convinced herself that the labor had exhausted Melanie,
but that when she
recovered, she would return to her normal self.
But Melanie didn't bounce back.
When Sommer was only a month old, Melanie's depression had grown so
severe that she had stopped eating and drinking and could no longer
swallow. She began to have paranoid thoughts about others--she thought
that her neighbors across the street had all closed their blinds because
they thought she was a bad mother. She became gaunt, hallow-eyed, a
shell of her former self. Then, she began searching for a way to end
Melanie's was hospitalized three times in seven weeks. She was given
four combinations of anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant
medications. She also underwent electroconvulsive therapy. Her family
rallied around her with all their strength, but in the end, Melanie
jumped to her death from the twelfth floor of a Chicago hotel.
Melanie with her mother
(right) and two aunts who
supported her during the postpartum months
Melanie's death left her family with many unanswered
questions. Carol is angry at the doctors who did not seem to recognize
the peril Melanie was in. She does not understand why she was not given
the information she needed to help fight this illness. This website
is her effort to get the word out about postpartum psychosis. She hopes
that by sharing Melanie's struggle, she will raise awareness about this
volatile, often misunderstood, illness.
Melanie's battle has become Carol's Crusade. After Melanie's Death,
Carol contacted every newspaper and magazine she could think of. She
has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and in the pages of Jet and Ebony.
Carol believes that ignorance is our worst enemy in the battle against
postpartum mood disorders. She has organazined marches, initiated legislation,
distributed flyers in hospital maternity wards, and she has become an
advocate for a silent section of our population: women who in the throes
of postpartum psychosis killed their own children. Carol has become
a pen pal to many of them, and has appeared in court on numerous occasions
to testify on their behalf.
Won't you join Carol in her battle against this devastating illness?
Visit her legislation page to find out about the Melanie Stokes Postpartum
Depression Care and Research Act, and to discover ways that you can
help push things along. Drop by the information
page about postpartum
psychosis to gain a better understanding of this illness, and don't
forget to sign the guestbook. Visit the links page
to learn more, and if you wish to contact Carol directly, you'll find
her phone number listed on the contact page.