From Post-Partum Depression to Finding Purpose

United Way programs helped Cindy find purpose and happiness in life.

Cindy McDonald can still taste the charcoal, and she can still remember the bitter question when she opened her eyes to see she was still, somehow, alive. 

How do you go from wanting to die to being alive but without a reason to live?  
Jessica Monk and Cindy McDonald

Jessica Monk and Cindy McDonald

Cindy brought her story of recovery after a failed suicide attempt to 300 City of Edmonton employees gathered together at the Central Lions Recreation Centre to help kick off the City’s 2018 United Way campaign. She told them how, stalked by dark thoughts after being diagnosed with severe post-partum depression, she had overdosed on medication one night. 

She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. She said, “That’s it, I guess.” She went back to bed, lay down next to her husband, and waited. She woke up looking at a team of health care workers.

“I was alive and I was angry,” she said. 

Cindy got help. She learned she was not alone. After she received the support she needed she then started giving back, helping on a suicide distress line in Edmonton that “wouldn't stop ringing.” 

She told the crowd: “If I had known about that line before, I could have told people how I was feeling.”

City of Edmonton, campaign kick-off 2018 at Central Lions Recreation Centre

City of Edmonton, campaign kick-off 2018 at Central Lions Recreation Centre

Cindy made a crucial point during her talk: being a wife, a mother of two, a daughter, a soccer and hockey mom, none of these social roles she played in family and society guaranteed she would actually feel safe and secure and together with others. What helped were the resources provided that took invisible mental health as seriously as visible physical health. 

The help got her to the point where she could now look out a room of strangers at the City of Edmonton and say: “God doesn't give you another day because you need it. You have another day because someone needs you.” 

Jessica Monk, the City’s 2018 United Way Campaign Chair, told the audience she understands United Way as an extension of her work as a City of Edmonton team member. “As City of Edmonton employees, we have made a commitment to serving our neighbours,” Jessica said. “There is nothing left to do but give.”

By Glenn Kubish, Director of Communications, City of Edmonton

This article originally appeared in the City of Edmonton’s staff newsletter in September 2018.

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