Husband pens heartfelt letters to mothers with PND after wife takes her own life

"You are not alone," husband pens heartfelt post to women with PND, after his wife took her own life.
"You are not alone," husband pens heartfelt post to women with PND, after his wife took her own life. Photo: Facebook/Remembering Mother Florence Leung

The husband of a young Canadian mum who took her own life after suffering from postnatal depression, has taken to Facebook to urge all new mums feeling anxious or depressed to "please seek help and talk about your feelings".

"You are Not alone," Kim Chen wrote in the heartfelt Facebook post, two months after his wife, Florence Leung's, death. "You are Not a bad mother."

In October 2016, Mr Chen's 32-year-old wife went missing, suddenly, without explanation. Their son, Ben, was only four weeks old at the time.

 Three weeks later, Ms Leung, who had been suffering from postnatal depression, was found dead. The young mum had tragically taken her own life.

"Since my Flo has been found, our whole family is devastated and grieving right now," wrote  Mr Chen, on the Facebook page created following his wife's disappearance. "However, we must all be strong for our son who is almost 3 months old, we have to take care of him and raise him to be a good, caring and compassionate person-- just what Flo would have wanted."

Yesterday, the dad took to Facebook once more, to mark two months since his wife was found. "2 months have passed since the Detectives and victim assistance staffs showed up at our home, with the grim look on their faces," he wrote. "I knew immediately what they were going to say before they entered the door."

Describing that the moment was just like "numerous scenes on TV," Mr Chen noted that although it was "surreal" the realisation soon hit that it wasn't television.

"This is happening to me,"he wrote. "This is real life."

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For the grieving father, the foundation of his life and the plans he held for the future, were all taken apart.

"Everything needs to be rebuilt," he said.

Mr Chen explained that although it has only been two months since he lost his wife, it feels like "half a year". And, in that time, he's been living in "survival mode",  taking each day - and sometimes each hour - at a time. 

"Living at the moment is truly the only way to go through this at this stage," he wrote. And while, the initial shock and numbness has slowly subsided Mr Chen described that he is now experiencing flashbacks of the six-and-a-half years the couple spent together.

".. for now," he wrote, "these memories tend to trigger pain and intense longing." 

Mr Chen also shared that their little boy is growing well - that he's in the 90th percentile for height and weight - and that he "smiles and laughs a lot!"

Mr Chen then issued an impassioned plea to all new mums who are experiencing low mood or anxiety.  "Please seek help and talk about your feelings," he wrote, before reminding them, "you are not alone."

Mr Chen also urged new mums not to feel guilty about being unable to exclusively breastfeed, "even though you may feel the pressure to do so based on posters in maternity wards, brochures in prenatal classes, and teachings at breastfeeding classes."

The father described that he still remembers reading a leaflet from the hospital with the line "Breast Milk Should Be the Exclusive Food For the Baby for the First Six Months." While acknowledging the benefits of breast milk, Mr Chen wrote of the need for more widespread understanding that supplementing with formula is okay, and that formula feeding is a "completely viable option".

Promising to revisit the topic in future, Mr Chen expressed his thanks to those helping him raise awareness of such a "devastating condition", and for the support he has received over the past two months.

"You have no idea how much your comments mean to me," he wrote.

In the months after her death, Mr Chen reflected on his grief, writing, "They say your grief is your love turned inside-out. That is why it is so deep. That is why it is so consuming. The depth of grief reflects how deeply you loved someone. And oh how deeply do I love her, do we love each other."

PND affects around 15 per cent of mothers following the birth of their baby. Women often report feeling tearful, anxious, sad and guilty, without being able to identify an obvious "trigger". Physical symptoms can include a change in appetite, disrupted sleep patterns and difficulty concentrating.

For more information on the signs and symptoms of PND, as well as the available treatments, visit Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Australia (PANDA)  http://www.panda.org.au/

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, or know someone who might be, contact BeyondBlue.org.au (call 1300 224 636), LifeLine (call 13 11 14 or chat online after hours), or PANDA National Helpline (1300 726 306).
 

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