by Jude Jacob March 01, 2021
I’m Kristen Garzone. I live in Troy (Upstate NY) with my husband Steve, 4.5-year-old daughter Ellie, and the best golden retriever, Troy. You can find me on Instagram at @mellank running miles, lifting, and talking about a cause very close to my heart: mental health, especially maternal mental health. I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 21 but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago, when my life was completely turned upside down, that I started publicly sharing my story and fighting in the open.
Back in 2016 when I was pregnant with my daughter Ellie, I had no idea what postpartum depression even was. Little did I know, I was suffering from PPD and badly. On June 2, 2017, when Ellie was about 7 months old, my life changed forever. My dear friend, Kristin, (who felt more like a sister) had taken her own life at 10 months postpartum. I can’t even begin to explain the uncontrollable grief that took over me (and still does on some days) but above all, and sadly enough, losing Kristin ultimately saved my life. It broke my heart but forced me to realize how serious my condition really was.
At the beginning of 2018, I begin thinking about how that first Mother’s Day weekend without Kristin, on May 12, 2017 which would have been Kristin’s 31st birthday, would feel. I knew I wanted to find a special way to honor her and share her story even more while raising awareness for postpartum depression… and do it the best way I knew how: through running. That is when Run to Believe was born. With the help of a good friend Kelly Vigil (@moremilesmorefun), we were able to start up this virtual run now held every Saturday of Mother’s Day Weekend with all proceeds being donated to Every Mother Counts in Kristin’s honor.
And here we are today: getting ready for the 4th (!!) Annual Run To Believe to be held on Saturday, May 8th. There are various mileage options to choose from and to be logged around the world, all in honor of Kristin to raise awareness for postpartum depression. Over the past 3 years we have raised over $13,000 and I’m hoping this will be our most successful year yet!
The most exciting part of this year’s run? Half of the proceeds will now go to The Believe KNT Foundation – a nonprofit (that I created in January) whose mission is to help raise awareness and help make mental health care available for any and all mothers in the United States, created in honor of Kristin Nicole Thorsen, who fought hard and lost her battle to postpartum depression on June 2, 2017. Through this foundation, we hope to educate and bring awareness about postpartum depression, raise funds, and help provide funding/financial aid for women experiencing hardship through the prenatal and postpartum period to be able to get the help they need as well as help support established programs specifically for postpartum depression.
Maternal mental health issues, such as postpartum depression, are a real issue and1.3 million mothers in the U.S. are affected each year. So today and every day going forward, I continue to share Kristin’s story (and my own story) to help others in need because that is what Kristin would have wanted. I share so that others will not suffer this pain or carry this unbearable burden of grief and loss. I share so that we continue to believe that Kristin is always with us and that her light will shine on forever. Most importantly, I won’t stop trying to help others like Kristin, who are in desperate need of maternal mental health care so that children across the country never have to grow up without their mothers.
Want to run with us on May 8th? Click here to sign up: https://www.moremilesraces.com/runtobelieve
Want to donate to the Believe KNT Foundation? Click here to donate: https://www.classy.org/give/324276/#!/donation/checkout
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