For about four years, Amy Corn had been living her life undiagnosed. Her pain wasn’t from something anyone could easily see, and no one ever told her what it was.
While sitting with a friend at lunch one day, she finally realized what was wrong.
“I can remember looking at her and thinking ‘Someone else gets the depth and the gravity and the pain of this suffering I’m going through,’” said Corn, a Gainesville resident. “I just sat there in shock, tears running down my face and I cried all the way home and when I got home I told my husband that I think I know what this is. ... I sat down at my computer and typed in ‘postpartum depression.’”
Corn said she had been suffering through postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety since she had her first child in 2009. She said she was never warned or told by anyone of postpartum issues, so she wants to be that difference in other women’s lives.
She now has done just that as a maternal mental health advocate working with mothers who are suffering with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. And because of her volunteer work with women across Georgia, and even some out-of-state, Corn recently received a 2018 Inspiring Mother of Georgia award from the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia.
“At first it was actually quite a shock because I didn’t know a lot about the award,” Corn said. “I never really thought about the fact that someone else would see the true value of what I was doing. And then after those feelings of shock, there came a great sense of pride that what I have been doing, someone did take notice, and it is changing and affecting the lives of the mothers and the families I work with.”
As a maternal mental health advocate, Corn works with mothers while focusing on their emotional well-being. She said postpartum depression and anxiety are seldom talked about openly. New mothers aren’t made aware of the signs or the help available. Corn said it’s especially hard for women living in rural areas, as she was.
“Amy has been a real leader in helping to increase the number of trained providers in our state and developing our workforce to be able to serve moms and their families who experience postpartum depression and anxiety anywhere in the state,” said Elise Blasingame, executive director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia.
Corn lives near Dawsonville and said the farther out of large cities families live, the harder it is to get help. She said Atlanta has a few doctors who can help new mothers’ needs, but those living an hour or more away find such specialized help scarce. She said there were no resources for her when she was dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety.
“There are sometimes when the client has to wait months to get an appointment because there’s only so many regular mental health providers in their area,” Blasingame said. “Or maybe they have one bad experience with a mental health provider that doesn’t fully understand postpartum depression or anxiety, and then they’re totally turned off from the process and there’s no other provider in the area. So if they blow that shot, that’s it. There’s no second option.”
That’s why Corn also serves as a state coordinator for Postpartum Support International, an organization that helps connect women, and “serve as a bridge” between the community and the resources it offers.
“I look at whatever resources we have available and do everything I can to get that person help or assistance,” Corn said.
Everything she does is volunteer work. She can do most of the work from home which makes taking care of her children a much easier task, because the work she does with mothers keeps her pretty busy.
As the program and education committee chair for Postpartum Support International’s Georgia chapter, Corn said she’s able to focus on getting programs created to help mothers.
When she was dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety, Corn said all she wanted was for someone to look at her and tell her she wasn’t crazy, and that such feelings were common.
“When I finally met someone else who was experiencing what I was, I felt this huge weight lifted off me,” Corn said. “As I could put a name to this, it’s like it didn’t have as much control over me. So I started learning everything I could about it, educating myself. I went back to school and took some classes. I’ve had some specialized training in maternal mental health and I just completely shifted focus.”