Hope, Help and Healing
ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO
by Lisa Tramontana
photos courtesy Nikyla Trask
If anyone had asked her, Nikyla Trask would have described her life as just about perfect after the birth of her third child. She was happily married and enjoyed her job as a teacher. She also served as a worship leader in her church. But just four days after she delivered her son Kris, Trask’s health took a sudden turn for the worse.
It started with preeclampsia, a complication often
accompanied by high blood pressure and other serious symptoms. Trask was alarmed because she had not had any problems during her pregnancy. Soon, she was diagnosed with heart failure, which kept her hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit for several days.
During her inpatient stay, she remembers being
obsessed with the heart monitor, always on edge when it beeped in response to her heart rate dropping. “It got to where I couldn’t relax and I certainly couldn’t fall asleep,” Trask said. “So I was in this fog. I developed horrible anxiety and depression. Even after I was released from the hospital and went back home, I ended up calling an ambulance almost every day for a month. The doctors diagnosed me with post-partum anxiety … so severe that I became psychotic.”
Clearly, she couldn’t return to her teaching job.
And her mental state was so fragile that her children had to go and live with relatives. Fortunately, her husband provided incredible emotional support during her darkest days. Trask became convinced that she was dying, and though her loved ones tried to convince her otherwise, their words only upset her more.
On Day 55, she connected with a psychiatrist who
helped her finally get her life back on track. The doctor prescribed a medication that induced sleep and Trask was finally able to get some much-needed rest. She began weekly counseling sessions to deal with her anxiety. Five months later, she was teaching again and her children returned home. Life was good again.
The Best FAMILY EVER
“One thing I learned from my counseling is that I
probably had suffered some mild anxiety during childhood,” Trask said. “So it wasn’t as sudden as I thought. It had always been there but I had learned to deal with it. Looking back, I recall that I did experience some pressure as a child. I was very sensitive and I often feared that I wasn’t living up to what others expected of me. I strove for perfection. I never felt that I could make a wrong choice. When my physical problems surfaced after the baby, it gave the mental illness a chance to take hold.”
Trask was a gogetter before her illness. She was
rarely sick, had a lot of energy, and was used to being the caregiver for the loved ones in her life. “I wasn’t used to asking people for help, and when I had to do it, it was difficult,” she said. Once she started feeling herself again, Trask wanted to share her story with other women. She wanted to help destroy the stigma of mental illness and spread awareness about coping mechanisms and the support that is available. “I don’t want to ever see another mom on TV who drowns her children or jumps off a bridge,” she said. “At one point, I was suicidal. I had terrible thoughts going through my mind. I know in my heart that if I hadn’t gotten the proper care, I could have become a statistic.”
Due to her faith and her personal experience,
Trask developed a campaign called Be Brave, which encourages women to face their mental illness and take appropriate steps to recover. “First of all, we empower women with information,” Trask said. “Second, we offer contacts to local services and programs that can help. And third, we provide a support system.”
Three times a year, Be Brave partners with local
businesses to host special events. The next event is on Mother’s Day, Saturday May 6, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 P.M., at Love Alive Church on Jones Creek Road. The event features a special brunch, a musical performance and massage therapy. Tickets are $15 each. To order tickets, call (225) 400-5721.