Melanie's Battle:
The Hidden Plague of Postpartum Psychosis and Depression


Melanie's Story

About Postpartum Psychosis





In Memory
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Melanie's Story

When 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 her life.

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.