North Royalton mom suffering from postpartum depression turns to running after suicidal thoughts

NORTH ROYALTON, OHIO (WOIO) - CLEVELAND, OH -- The 41st annual Cleveland Marathon is May 20, and Cleveland 19 is introducing you to some of people running it.

Incredible stories of courage and strength, and emotional journeys from the start to the finish line.

"It's more than just a race to me," explained Jacque, a mom from North Royalton.

Jacque is training for her first marathon.

"I have to do something out of my comfort zone. I have to do something to push me and make myself feel stronger again," she said.

Stronger, because in the past year, Jacque has pulled herself off a very dark path.

"One day after putting my baby down for a nap, I sat on the floor in my room, crying, finally ready to end the pain," said Jacque, as she reads the letter she wrote for her Cleveland Marathon application.

Jacque knew it was postpartum depression, but it was so severe, she wanted to take her own life.

"I thought about ending my life at least 12 times a day," she said.

On the outside, you'd never know it.

"I breast fed, I cloth diapered. I made homemade organic baby food. Sign language, flash cards, so I looked from the outside like everything's great. But from the inside out I was falling apart," said Jacque.

"We have this idea that this is a bundle of joy, everything is flowers and roses," explains Nurse Casey Toohig.

She has counseled dozens of women with postpartum depression.

"It can happen anywhere in the first year after you have a baby," she said.  

As many as one in seven women experience symptoms of postpartum depression, according to the American Psychological Association.

"It was hard to get out of bed. It was a lot of mood swings, a lot of anger," said Jacque.

But that figure -- one in seven -- only accounts for those who are diagnosed and seek treatment. It doesn't include women who miscarry, either.

Experts think even more women are struggling with postpartum depression.

"It's hard because some people are afraid to even tell anyone how they're feeling," said Toohig.

Toohig's best advice is to talk to someone: your pediatrician, your ob/gyn, your family.

"It's really important to accept help. Make sure you ask for help if you need it," said Toohig.

"We need more people to come forward and talk about it so that it's easier to go and get help, it's easier to say 'I think I might have this,'" added Jacque. "It's OK not to be perfect. It's OK to be vulnerable and weak and tell somebody and get the help you need."

Medication is also available.

Jacque has been talking to a therapist.

The healing, for her, has come in baby steps: "I started enjoying my daughter. I started enjoying my life. I started trying to find myself again. I started running."

For Jacque, the Cleveland Marathon is not only about crossing the finish line, it's about finding herself again, one step at a time.

"It's proof that I can be stronger tomorrow than I was yesterday. It gives me hope," she said.

There is a walk coming up in Lakewood, June 24 at 4 p.m., to raise money for postpartum support groups.

It's called "Climb Out of the Darkness."

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