Cheryl Zandbergen has experienced more about depression and anxiety than she lets on.
The founder of Moms Gone Wild, a Facebook group that organizes outings, activities and volunteer opportunities, she is known as an outgoing, social person.
But the Maple Ridge mother of two wasn’t always that way.
In 2014, after the birth of her second daughter, Zandbergen went through a dark time. Four days before the birth, doctors thought she had a mini-stroke. But because she was pregnant, they couldn’t run the proper tests.
Then during the delivery, she lost a lot of blood. She had low iron levels and felt exhausted.
Zandbergen thought she was just feeling like a new mom.
Five months later, Zandbergen had to get tests done on her heart, “to make sure I didn’t have a blood clot going through my brain.”
It was during time that Zandbergen suffered from so much anxiety that she couldn’t carry out day-to-day activities. She was fatigued and had vertigo all. She was sick to her stomach.
“I couldn’t eat at all, but I was thinking that it was this heart condition that my doctor thought that I had and I had convinced myself that something was medically wrong with me.”
Then a family member suggested that she might be suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression.
Zandbergen did some research, then went back to see her doctor, who suggested she seek counselling and put her on an anti-depressant for a year.
“At that point, I was just so desperate that I just wanted to feel better,” said Zandbergen.
Looking back, she realizes how lucky she was to have such a great support system of family and friends.
That motivated her to start organizing free mental health workshops for mothers.
The first one was held last year and featured a talk by behaviour analyst Nate Searle, and 250 to 300 mothers attended. This year’s workshop, on May 23 at Westview secondary, has space for 375 people and about 230 have already registered.
The speaker will be Tabasom Eblaghie, a registered clinical counsellor based out of Coquitlam. She will talk about the stresses that mothers face, how anxiety influences one’s life and offer five to seven tips on how to become more centered and happier.
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy will also say a few words at the event about mental wellness during motherhood.
Zandbergen’s goal is to have an ongoing conversation surrounding mental health and motherhood, and increase the frequency of the speaker series in the future.
Starting in September, Moms Gone Wild will be hosting a free workshop every few months.
The Mental Health for Mothers workshop takes place at 7 p.m. on May 23 at Westview secondary – 20905 Wicklund Ave. in Maple Ridge.
• To register, go to momsgonewild.ca.