The Story Behind This Photo Is So Important
There is a photo going around Facebook that, at first glance, seems like a regular photo of a happy new mom and a beautiful baby. In the picture, the mom looks every bit the blissfully happy new mother; she even has her hair pulled back in a neat ponytail, earrings fastened on, and is dressed in something other than a robe, which by all accounts, is definitely impressive.
But the photo, sadly, is no ordinary mom-and-baby photo. Instead, it's the last photo that the pair would ever have taken together, because the mother in the photo died by suicide the very next morning.
The photo was taken and shared by Steven D'Achille, whose wife, Alexis, and daughter, Adriana, appear in the photo. He shared the photo on his Facebook page, describing how it was the last photo that he would ever take of his wife, whose suicide was a result of postpartum psychosis. Since his wife's death, D'Achille has become a strident advocate for postpartum depression, working tirelessly to ensure that no other family is torn apart like his family has been.
“#MyWishForMoms is that no mom has to feel like Alexis did,” he wrote in the caption accompanying the photo. “#MyWishForMoms is that every mom gets to watch their babies grow up. #MyWishForMoms is that no mom feels like their loved ones are better off without them here. That no mom feels they are a burden. My wish for this post is that everyone male or female that reads it posts their own #MyWishForMoms for a woman they know and love.”
D'Achille has shared his family's story with the media to help raise even more awareness for PPD and to push for even more help to be made accessible to women like his wife. Because the sad and hard truth is, D'Achille tried to get help for his wife. In a story for Today Parenting, he detailed how they had actually visited a total of seven different crisis centers and hospitals in their quest to get help for Alexis. After her doctor even tried doubling her medication, she begged her husband to take her to the hospital, where she told the doctor that she had suicidal thoughts and a plan in place to kill herself.
But instead of helping her, the doctor who assessed her told her she would feel better at home. “The doctor pulled me aside and said, ‘She is going to be fine,’” D’Achille told the website. “I can’t believe I was stupid enough to listen to him.”
The very next morning, likely feeling like she had exhausted all of the resources available to her, Alexis attempted suicide. Her daughter was 6 weeks old. Despite efforts to resuscitate her and being placed on life support, Alexis died two days later. Since then, D'Achille has channeled his heartbreak over losing his wife into trying to make the world a better place for moms.
He went on to found The Alexis Joy Foundation, and partnered with Allegheny Health Network and Highmark Health in Pittsburgh to create the Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health, a center that focuses on pregnancy and postpartum health with two tiers of care. Patients can either take part in an outpatient therapy program and meet weekly with a dedicated therapist or be enrolled in a more intensive program with longer, three-times-a-week therapy sessions that include mother-baby interaction. His work has garnered a lot of support, thanks to social media, and has even caught the attention of supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who has been open about her own struggles with postpartum depression and has acted as an advocate for the disorder since.
Today, Adriana is a happy and healthy preschooler and D'Achille is very bit the devoted dad. “It makes me sick to think her mom will never watch her walk down the aisle at her own wedding,” he commented in a recent post. “The happiest days of her life will also be shared with moments of profound sadness…#mywishformoms is that they and their children’s lives are full of uninterrupted happiness during life’s happiest times. That children don’t have to find out early, how hard life really is. That moms are appreciated before they are gone.”