Dancing Without You
As part of my senior capstone project at Brigham Young University, I had the privilege of working with a determined father and now widow to share the devastating story of his wife, Emily Cook Dyches, who passed away from the tragic effects of a perinatal mood disorder in February of 2016.
When I started working on this documentary I knew it would be a special experience but I didn’t fully comprehend then what a tremendous effect Em’s story would have on me personally and my desire to end the stigma surrounding maternal mental illnesses. I am now determined to share her story.
Em and Eric gave birth to their fifth baby, Trey, March 2015. After experiencing a few complications in the delivery room, Em’s anxiety continued to get worse soon after she went home from the hospital. After several long months, she was admitted into an inpatient facility for mental illness, but had a horrible experience as she was only one of two women in the facility suffering with PPD. She was there with men and criminals, and had extremely limited contact with her family and baby. Em literally weened her baby overnight since she was unable to have contact with her baby during her inpatient stay.
A couple weeks after she returned home, she ended up passing away in a tragic accident related to her mental illness. Utah has the highest birth rate in the entire country with 17.6 births per 1,000 women, and yet the state with the highest percentage of mothers doesn’t have a psychiatric inpatient care facility specifically for new mothers. The University of North Carolina has a Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit staffed with nurses who are familiar with the pharmacology of nursing and everything a new mother is dealing with. This is exactly what Em needed in Utah, but after Eric turned to their OBYGN, the emergency room, urgent care, and finally the psychiatric inpatient facility they attended, he felt like the resources available to him were exhausted.
Women all over the country, not just in Utah, also need these resources. With 85% of women suffering from some degree of perinatal mood disorders, it is absolutely necessary to provide women with so much more. This documentary honors Emily Cook Dyches, a beautiful mother and wife devoted to raising her children, and the efforts Eric Dyches is making to end the stigma around maternal mental health, with his foundation called “The Emily Effect.”
In thinking of Em, Eric says, “I think that if there was one message that I would share with her is that we have only just begun, we have only just begun the effort of sharing the message, and raising awareness and ending the stigma, but she and I have only just begun and I will take care of her kids, I will take care of her kids while she’s gone. And that’s what I would share with her.”
Emily Dyches passed away this year from the devastating negative effects of a perinatal mood disorder. Watch her story here
Blog by Aley Davis