Calgary Health Foundation
Health care touches us all! Our donors know that health care is a vital part of our community and the foundation for a great life. It is something that will impact our family, friends, neighbours and one day, even ourselves. Calgary Health Foundation raises funds for health and wellness initiatives to ensure that everyone – young and old – is able to experience the highest quality of life! We have been raising funds for state-of-the-art technology, innovative programs, research and education in health care for over 20 years and together with the generosity of our donors, sponsors and volunteers, we have raised over 420 million dollars.
Women’s Mental Health Clinic
Through the Run for Women, we are fundraising for the Women’s Mental Health Clinic at Foothills Medical Centre. This clinic provides a much needed service to women with mental health issues who are considering pregnancy, are pregnant or are within a year of postpartum. Nearly one in five women will experience mental health difficulties, such as major depression or anxiety disorders, during this reproductive stage of life.
On Lissette’s first visit to Dr. Lisa Gagnon of the Women’s Mental Health Clinic, she felt extremely disheveled and told her, “I don’t think you can fix me, I’m broken.”
Lissette, who had been a delivery nurse for 10 years, is one of the people whose life was forever changed by the Women’s Mental Health Clinic. Before experiencing postpartum depression, she explains, “I was the hub at home, I was the hub of our family, I was the go-to, the fixer. At work I was the champion, the charge nurse and was knowledgeable, so I didn’t see myself as a possible risk.” But that all changed when her daughter Stella was stillborn at full term. Shortly after, when Lissette found herself needing stitches because of incidents with self-harm, she knew that the grief she was experiencing was more than she would be able to deal with on her own.
When Dr. Gagnon promised she would eventually be herself again, Lissette couldn’t bring herself to believe it. Lisette’s postpartum depression manifested in her not being able to leave the house for a year. Having lost all faith in her decision making abilities, Lisette wasn’t able to perform simple tasks like going to the grocery store for milk. “During emergency codes at work, I was cool as a cucumber, so to stop in a parking lot and cry because I couldn’t park the car and have to go home was not me.” She also found herself losing patience with her older daughter in a way she never had before.
The help that Dr. Gagnon and the clinic provided included making a safety plan, regulating medication, referring Lissette to other professionals and working with her family and husband to understand how to support Lissette through this time. Managing the postpartum depression was increasingly important when Lissette became pregnant again and had to navigate the feelings and fear that came along with that experience.
It was eight months after her daughter, Isabelle, was born that Lissette started feeling like herself again. The help that she had received meant that she was able to return to work to a medical unit. Although in many ways Lissette felt as through her life was suspended for three and a half years, the experience provided invaluable learning for her and she hopes her story can also help others. “Going through it, I realized it could happen to anyone. I was a happy, well-adjusted person. I had overcome many things in life and was successful in my career, had a nice home. We can have it together and still develop postpartum depression. When I went back to work after mat leave, I was scared. Dr. Gagnon told me who I am hasn’t changed. The events that happened change how you cope, but they doesn’t change you.”