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Tragedy spurs group to take action

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A walk in the park will soon do a great deal to raise awareness about postpartum depression.

Moved by the tragic deaths of Lisa Gibson and her children, a group of four connected over social media, and they’re now taking action to raise awareness and understanding of postpartum depression.

Ashley Tully, of Oakville, and East Kildonan’s Jenn Wittick and Brenda and Eddie Marion-Gerula, are organizing the Run for Mums Family Walk/Run on Sept. 25 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Kildonan Park.

"In light of the Gibson family tragedy in Winnipeg, I was putting a lot of information, pictures with quotes, et cetera on Facebook about mental illness and how we should talk about postpartum depression / psychosis more, and how we shouldn’t be so quick to judge people," said Tully. "It got Jenn, Eddie and Brenda replying on a specific post and we kept saying, ‘too bad there isn’t something we can do.’

"Eddie said, ‘we should plan a run,’" Tully added.

The four had previously met when they took part in the Colour Me Rad run for Camp Manitou in July.

Tully said she’s surprised by how quickly things are coming together for the event, which is being held in support of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba’s programming for postpartum depression and psychosis.

"We’re going to have a few speakers to start," she said.

Two of those speakers will be mothers who have experienced postpartum depression.
This is an issue Wittick takes personally, as she was struck by postpartum depression after her son was born.

"It is important to me to tell people that PPD is serious. It needs to be talked about," she said. "It doesn’t make you a bad mother, a monster, or anything else. There are many emotional adjustments in the first couple weeks to months after birth and our society doesn’t value the healing of mothers after labour."

"We are expected to bounce back after labour very quickly and we need to recognize mothers need support to avoid illnesses such as these."

Tully said she was touched by the illness when she supported a close friend who came to her door in despair, carrying her new baby. The woman was hospitalized for three months to treat her postpartum psychosis.

"I would hate to imagine what would have happened if I wasn’t home that day," said Tully. "To this day this friend is someone I am so proud of because she has gotten help and is an amazing mom to two kids now."

The Marion-Gerulas have four children, and Brenda runs a home daycare. Although she said she was fortunate not to have experienced depression after her children’s births, she and her husband wanted to take positive action toward increasing the public’s knowledge about postpartum depression, and mental illness in general.

Tully said one lap around Kildonan Park is 2.2 kilometres, and participants can run up to 10 laps.

Registration is $20, though children may register for free.

The Running Room is a sponsor for the event, and people can register online at www.events.runningroom.com/hm/index.php?sort&step&sub=1&y=2013&m=09&f_prov=MB&tab=1

Participants can also fundraise for the run if they wish.

Tara Brousseau-Schneider, executive director of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, said the association is happy and honoured to have people volunteering their time and energy to support the organization’s postpartum programming.

The money raised by the run will be used for a soon-to-be established province-wide phone help line dedicated to supporting anyone affected by postpartum depression.

For more information, contact Tully at 204-871-6702, Eddie Marion-Gerula at 204-997-3232 or email run4mums@outlook.com

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