It’s hard to find the words to talk about Allison Goldstein. By all appearances, the 32-year-old was a typical new mother: balancing taking care of her newborn with her job as an elementary school teacher, calling her sister every day to ask typical new mom questions, and seeming generally happy to her husband and supportive family.
But one day this past June, after dropping her daughter off at daycare, Allison took her own life.
What her family didn’t know–and what she never told anyone until an email she sent before her death–was that Allison was a typical new mom in one more way: She was suffering from postpartum depression.
Now, her family is speaking out in the hopes that no other family goes through this incredibly painful tragedy.
Talking with the parenting site Mom.me, Goldstein’s sister, Mallory Hudson, explained how the family was completely blindsided by Allison’s suicide, stating:
She found the good in everyone, she always was positive, never complained, never bothered or burdened anyone with anything. She was just trying to keep it to herself.
In the email Allison sent to those closest to her just before her death, she wrote:
I’m so sorry that I didn’t know how to describe this pain and seek help.
She was not alone in this struggle. It’s estimated that 900,000 women suffer from PPD each year in the U.S., yet only 15% ever receive professional treatment. Clearly, a lot more effort needs to be made in educating pregnant women and their families about perinatal mood disorders, and we need to keep fighting the stigma of mental illness so that people do not feel too ashamed to seek help.
This is exactly why Allison’s family is now speaking out. Her sister explained:
Allison was truly amazing. And we want other moms to understand that they are, too. This is not who you are as a mom, as a wife, as a person—this is a disease and it needs to be acknowledged as a true illness.
And not only are they speaking out–Mallory Hudson, a NICU nurse, is also planning to teach birthing classes in order to educate expectant parents about these issues, and the entire family is working to promote legislation to provide funding for the treatment of perinatal mood disorders.
What happened to Allison is an absolute tragedy, and I can’t begin to imagine what her husband, parents, sister, friends, and of course, her daughter, are going through right now. But their determination to share her story and shift the way we talk about postpartum depression and other mood disorders is truly inspiring–and can literally save lives.
If you think you or someone you love is experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, please reach out for help. Start with Postpartum Progress or Postpartum Support International. You are not alone.
This post is part of the Here.Now. series, which seeks to destigmatize mental health,
and is made possible by UJA-Federation of New York and The Jewish Board.
You can find other educational mental health resources here.