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How a Painting Helped Me Deal with Postpartum Depression

Karla Gudeon

Karla Gudeon

Every time I passed that painting, I paused. It was situated down a long hallway at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, a place that I had decided to go to for some much needed R & R with girlfriends. The painting was called “Rejoice” by a Jewish artist named Karla Gudeon, and something about it captivated me. I wanted to be like the woman in the painting. She is dancing carefree, barefoot, with her arms raised up to the sky.

But the past year, I hadn’t felt like dancing. I hadn’t felt like doing anything to be truthful. I had my youngest daughter that year and was in the throes of postpartum depression that went untreated for way too long. It finally hit me that I needed a serious intervention when I was crying on the bathroom floor instead of preparing for her first birthday party, a small family gathering taking place that afternoon. I knew I couldn’t go on like that for another year. It wasn’t fair to my family, and it wasn’t fair to me.

My friends urged me to join them on this spa weekend at Canyon Ranch and thought it would be good for me to get away and have a change of scenery. As much as I wanted to hibernate in my bed that winter, I agreed to go. I wanted to get back to myself and this, along with treatment, was my first foray into doing something that the “old me” would do. In fact, the “old me” probably would have signed up for every dance class that Canyon Ranch had to offer. I had always loved to dance—that feeling of being completely in the moment and letting go.

It’s funny because so many people come to Canyon Ranch hoping that it will set them on the right path to a healthier lifestyle through exercise or meditation, or a combination of both. But for me, that painting left more of a lasting impression than any of the classes that I took at Canyon Ranch.

“Rejoice.” Its message was so simple, but so hard to achieve. When I returned home, I thought about that painting every once in a while. Would I ever be like that woman in the painting again?

Luckily for me, I could. With love from my family and friends, a caring therapist, and medication—plus a serious desire to overcome this illness—I managed to find my way back to dancing and being joyful. I’ve now made Canyon Ranch an annual retreat with my girlfriends. Flash forward two years and I am well on my way to being like that woman in the painting who I so clearly identify with.

For my 40th birthday a few weeks ago, I was surprised by my Canyon Ranch girlfriends. A large package arrived for me labeled “Fragile, handle with care.” I opened it up and inside found the painting. My friends had ordered it from Canyon Ranch and framed it for me.

It now adorns my wall, and I purposefully decided to put it in a place where I could see it first thing every morning. As I come down the stairs, there she is—that “Rejoice” woman waiting for me. It’s as if she’s saying pause for a moment and be thankful of all that you have, all the progress you’ve made. And you know what? I do each day.

Karla Gudeon

Reprinted with permission from Karla Gudeon


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