Detective Shelane Gaydos was a mom of three and a police officer with the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department. She was a well-liked and respected officer in her division.
The Washington Post reports that she always wanted to have a big family. Sadly, during her fourth pregnancy, Gaydos suffered a miscarriage. Afterwards, she started acting withdrawn.
The Fairfax County Police Department wrote on Facebook that she started telling her friends she “felt like a failure for having lost the baby.”
She stopped sleeping and sank further into her depression. Two weeks after she lost the baby, on June 12, 2015, she took her own life.
Now, her family and friends are working in partnership with advocacy group Postpartum Support Virginia to host a second annual 5K run/walk in her memory.
Her loved ones want to tell her story to help raise awareness for postpartum depression and suicide prevention.
Adrienne Griffen, the founder of Postpartum Support Virginia, told Dearly that it’s important to tell stories like Gaydos’s to help break the stigma around perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs):
“People need to know that this can happen to anybody. Detective Gaydos was a high-functioning person. She was a motivated police officer and a loving mother. She had great family support, a police officer husband, and three beautiful daughters. But unfortunately she suffered from a miscarriage during her fourth pregnancy and her depression led her to suicide. Despite how strong and smart she was, she suffered — and she suffered silently.”
According to Postpartum Support Virginia, an estimated one in five new and expectant mothers are impacted by PMADs, or anxiety and depression disorders that can impact women during pregnancy or during the year after.
The symptoms of these disorders are temporary and can be treated.
Griffen explained to Dearly that patients suffering from postpartum and miscarriage experience rapid hormonal changes:
“When a woman has a miscarriage or gives birth, her hormone levels plummet to the levels they were at before she got pregnant. For some women who are sensitive to this shift, it can be what triggers them. For new moms suffering from miscarriage, we know this can be especially tough. You don’t have a baby, and you are suffering a loss.”
She said she hopes more obstetricians can help women by being sensitive after a miscarriage or birth. Doctors can help point women and their families to resources that can help offer support.
Griffen previously suffered from symptoms of PMADs after the birth of one of her children. At the time, she didn’t know where to turn for questions. Her organization provides support to new moms who are suffering from PMADs and to their family members:
“I had a hard time finding help when I was suffering. I live outside the nation’s capital. I had insurance, I’m well-educated, and it still took me six months to figure out what was going happening. I wanted to start a nonprofit for other moms who don’t know where to turn for help or don’t have resources readily available.”
The second annual Shelane’s Run is scheduled to take place on October 21. Proceeds will help support Postpartum Support Virginia.
Many members of the police department are expected to be running in memory of Detective Gaydos, the loving mother and officer they lost but haven’t forgotten.
If you have questions about PMADs or currently are experiencing postpartum depression, you can call Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4773.