When we think of a debilitating condition, we often think of something physical. As a result, mental illnesses often go unattended, ignored, maligned, and sometimes even brushed aside. But according to CAMH - the Center for Addiction and Mental Health - in a given year, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience some form of mental illness. By the time they reach the age of 40, it’s estimated that 1 in 2 Canadians have, or have had, a mental illness. Those numbers are staggering, and cannot be ignored.
Postpartum depression is no exception, and, according to the Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey, 7.5% of women in the postpartum period reported depressive symptoms.
Our client Ginette had been struggling with postpartum depression. She was 37 years old and had recently had her first child. Soon after giving birth, she began feeling detached and found it hard to be present with her child. She confided in her mother, who brushed it off, telling Ginette that she had experienced the “baby blues” and had gotten over it. She reminded Ginette that this was supposed to be the happiest time in her life.
After several weeks, Ginette didn’t bounce back. She had dealt with depression when she was younger, and likened her postpartum symptoms to what she was feeling in her twenties. Despite spending lots of time with excited friends and family, Ginette felt hopeless. She was constantly guilty and anxious about small things, like the time between feedings, or how messy her apartment was in front of guests.
Ginette had a full year for her maternity leave, and she desperately tried to do things to help her feel like her normal self. Ginette’s partner noticed that she was often irritable, and, despite being a new mom, wasn’t participating in any of her old hobbies. Her yoga mat was collecting dust in the corner, and her weekly magazine subscriptions sat piled up, untouched.
At the end of the year, Ginette returned to work, but found it very hard to focus. Concentration, learning a new skill, or even making seemingly simple decisions felt almost impossible. She found herself getting sick often, and her employer suggested she take some time off to get well. As her short term disability was coming to an end and Ginette was still not feeling better she talked to her doctor about applying for longterm disability benefits. She was well aware that she needed more time to heal and recover, but her claim was denied by the insurance company, who stated that postpartum depression is not a long term disability according to them.
When Ginette called us, she was on the verge of tears. We talked to her for a long time, listening to her story, and felt that we would be able to help. Share Lawyers was able to argue that Ginette was struggling with a very real and debilitating condition and helped Ginette get the treatment that she needed.
At Share Lawyers we have a special understanding of just how mental illness can be debilitating and what resources should be made available to cope with that condition. We believe anyone suffering from postpartum depression, or any other disability, should qualify for the long-term benefits they require to heal and recover properly.
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.