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Daryl English, Cutlass Communications 973-452-4547

July 5, 2006

New Play Brings Community Experience to the Isolation of Postpartum Depression

Glen Ridge, N.J. – There is no time in a woman’s life when joyful expectations of family and friends, as well as her own, are higher; nor any time when a different reality can be so crushing. That time is the early weeks, months and, in some cases, years of new motherhood for women suffering from symptoms of a disorder commonly called postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety. One to two out of every ten new mothers in the U.S. report experiencing some of those symptoms in the first year of their child’s life. And the chances of experiencing PPD are up to 80 percent greater for second-time mothers who have previously suffered from the disorder. The odds are high that we all have known someone affected—who made sure we never knew it.

Most of those women suffer the distress of PPD in silence for fear of being judged, or judging themselves, inadequate mothers. A new play now available from Out of the Shadow Productions (OOTS) offers a bridge off the islands of isolation spawned by the personal tempest of PPD. Written and adapted by Nadine Bernard, artistic director for OOTS, In the Shadow of my Son is a two-act, one hour fifty-minute full theater production that speaks to the sense of lost self, lost power and shame that women with PPD experience – leavened with humor and messages of hope.

Drawing on the experiences of three such mothers, the play weaves a rich tapestry of excerpts from interviews, personal essays and novels to tell a compelling, entertaining story. Using five actresses, a theme of boxes and children’s items as props, it educates audiences while reassuring those suffering from the disorder that they are not alone – or crazy. Integrating broader cultural views on motherhood, it also serves to affirm the vital concept of community as a force for acceptance and support, with the power to reduce greatly the stigma of the disorder, help end the social isolation of its sufferers, and even prevent PPD altogether.

Following various workshop presentations and readings during 2005, In the Shadow of my Son premiered as a full-scale production at two New York State venues in May, 2006, including a benefit in Huntington Station for the Postpartum Resource Center of New York. Out of the Shadow Productions is actively seeking new venues to extend the outreach of the play and its important messages throughout and beyond the Metropolitan New York area.

The production company at this time can accommodate requests for staging performances at locations up to 200 miles distant from its Glen Ridge, New Jersey base. It welcomes inquiries from theaters; school and universities; and churches, temples and community centers; as well as organizations such as nursing, midwives, and mental health associations whose charters will allow reaching out to women at risk of PPD, their families and communities. The production requires only a 300 sq ft performance space, sound system and a few platforms or risers for staging. Fees vary according to the nature of the event, time, location and size of the venue.

OOTS is also seeking funding to support a national tour allowing further outreach to more distant cities and communities. The production company is affiliated with Postpartum Support International (PSI), which is accepting donations on its behalf. PSI is an expert source of clinical data and support resources for women and families affected by PPD, as well as health care professionals. Its home on the Internet is at

Taking a lead in raising awareness about the disorder, the State of New Jersey is the first state in the nation to enact legislation making it a primary source of PPD information and support for its residents. New Jersey Public Law 2006 c12, which takes effect in October, requires physicians in the state to provide education and PPD screening for expectant mothers – and commits funding to developing educational and training resources. The legislation originated under the administration of former Governor Richard Codey, spearheaded by the mental health initiatives of Mary Jo Codey, the governor’s wife and an outspoken advocate, based on her own experience, for women with PPD. Information is available at:

The clinical term for PPD is (postpartum) perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, which encompass a family of conditions ranging from depression and anxiety, to panic attacks, to obsessive compulsive disorder and psychosis in extreme cases. While symptoms vary widely, women with PPD typically experience feelings of sadness, irritability, excessive worry, guilt and hopelessness. Sleep and appetite disturbances are common, along with loss of focus, concentration and interest in things previously enjoyed. Many are fearful of harming their babies or themselves. Treatment modalities range from medication and psychotherapy to nutritional counseling, exercise, massage and energetic body work. Family and community understanding and support remain the bedrock for nurturing new mothers’ mental health.

Educating audiences about these symptoms and the promise of healing, In the Shadow of My Son reflects some of its author’s personal experience in the transition to motherhood. The mother of a five-year-old son, Ms. Bernard is an actor, writer and director, and a graduate of Cornell University and Sarah Lawrence College. She is the founder of Out of the Shadow Productions, established in 2005. Its mission is to produce stories of recovery, self-discovery, transcendence, and hope that bridge differences among people based on life stages, circumstances and cultures. Its ultimate purpose is to break down boundaries of prejudice, stigma and intolerance.

For information about booking In the Shadow of My Son, readers may contact: Out of the Shadow Productions; P.O. Box 8011, Glen Ridge, NJ 07028; phone: 917-364-4538; email:; website: Donations to support a national tour for the play may be sent to the same address, made payable to Postpartum Support International with a notation “for the benefit of Out of the Shadow Productions.”

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