January 28, 2021

Run for Women, an Exercise in Mental Health

The Run for Women, brought to you by the LOVE YOU by Shoppers Drug Mart program, has been an incredible fundraiser for local health charities while teaching us about using physical exercise as a tool for caring for our mental health. In Calgary, the run supports Calgary Health Trust and the incredible work being done at the Women’s Mental Health Clinic. Another important goal of the run is to destigmatize mental health issues by talking about them. Although COVID-19 has brought us together in a global shared experience, physical distancing and being away from family and friends has also tested our mental health. More than ever, we are checking in on friends and family just to see how they are feeling and many of our walls are coming down.  

>> Click here to register for the Run for Women

For people like Krystin, going through the challenges of the pandemic has meant relying on learned coping strategies, her support system and online counselling visits for maintaining her mental wellness.

Krystin began using mental health services and the Women’s Mental Health Clinic about three weeks after giving birth to her first child, Noah. She was barely able to eat or sleep due to her anxiety (“I was having one Ensure smoothie a day,” she tells us). Unable to obtain a diagnosis for how she was feeling, and knowing that she wasn’t able to take care of herself or her newborn son, Krystin contemplated admitting herself to the hospital.

“I was sitting on the couch with my husband after Noah was asleep and we wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing. We were praying and listening to music. We both felt like this was the right choice.”

It was the next day that Krystin admitted herself to the psychiatric unit at Foothills Medical Centre and to being her healing journey. Through that experience, she became an outpatient and worked with Dr. Lisa Gagnon, psychiatrist and founder of the women’s mental health clinic, to ensure she was on the proper medications and worked through the anxiety she was experiencing. Krystin was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety, for which warning signs include excessive worrying, racing thoughts and feelings of dread. When she was ready for her second child, Chloe, the clinic and Dr. Gagnon were again there to support her.

The clinic helps women and families, like Krystin’s, every day.

“The clinic was so helpful I feel like she (Dr. Gagnon) saved my life and that clinic saved my life. If it wasn’t for them I honestly don’t know if I would even be alive anymore, because of how sick I was.” Krystin also received therapy through the clinic, which has been made possible thanks to generosity through the Run.

Thanks to her experience, she now gives back in a peer support role for other moms who are experiencing the same kinds of postpartum struggles she did.  

Although circumstances this year have changed, the Run for Women, brought to you by the LOVE YOU by Shoppers Drug Mart program, is happening and has shifted to become a virtual running & walking event for 2021. Participants are invited to run or walk from July 4-11th. We’d love to have you join us to support families like Krystin’s, and while caring for your own mental health.

>> Click here to watch Krystin tell her story on Global News

The women’s mental health clinic serves women in their reproductive stages of life, when nearly one in five women will experience mental health difficulties, such as major depression or anxiety disorders, during this reproductive stage of life. Mental health problems can impact fetal and child development, causes families to suffer and, in fact, suicide is a leading cause of death in pregnancy and postpartum in Alberta.

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