Salem woman’s death inspires husband to start nonprofit to raise awareness of postpartum depression

Jena Christiansen and Emily Dyches never met each other. In fact, the first time Christiansen heard of Dyches, she was learning details about her death.

In February, a postpartum panic attack had caused Dyches, a Salem resident and mother of five, to exit a vehicle on Interstate 15 near Nephi. After leaving the vehicle, she was struck by a truck and killed.

All Christiansen could think when a mutual friend told her the story was, “That could have been me.”

Jena’s story

Christiansen, who spent 10 years of her childhood in Utah County but currently lives in Hurricane, had experienced what she described as a sense of “downness” after giving up a son for adoption in 2003. Through counseling, she worked through that grieving process with no medication.

But after getting married and giving birth to a daughter in 2007, she experienced much more than just feeling down. She had a hard time bonding with her new daughter and cried constantly. Many people around her told her she would “get over it,” or that she simply needed to be happy.

Her sister recommended she get on medication for what she later found out was postpartum depression, and her initial response was a resounding no.

“I said, no, that’s what crazy people do,” Christiansen said.

But when her symptoms did not get better, Christiansen finally broke down, went to see a doctor, and started taking an anti-depressant. But as soon as she started feeling better, she dropped the medication.

Christiansen had another daughter in 2011, and when her PPD came back, it came back hard. She found out she was pregnant with a son only six weeks after giving birth to that daughter, which just compounded her feelings of anxiety and depression.

“It was just shock and awe, and feeling completely helpless, like how am I going to do this?” Christiansen said. “So I didn’t even get to move forward with trying to get better.”


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