Melanie’s Story — (website)

SSRI Ed note: Depressed and paranoid new mum given psychiatric medications, including antidepressants. Her condition worsens and she dies by suicide.

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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 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’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.