Battling a baleful menace
As a youngster growing up in Woodburn, Katrina Lomas recalled being a fairly cheerful sort. She certainly did not feel much anxiety, and depression was merely a word – but not one that frequented her vocabulary.
"I had never had depression before in my life," said Katrina, a 2007 graduate of Woodburn High School. "I never had a down day. I had always been happy."
That changed abruptly.
Several years out of high school and living in Coventry, West Midlands, England, Katrina and her husband, Andy, had their first child. But what was anticipated as joyous milestone for the young family instead catapulted Katrina into unfamiliar territory: postpartum depression.
Not only was it unfamiliar, it was intense, overwhelming and potentially fatal.
The depression hung on for years, and Katrina still battles it today. But hardly a day goes by when she doesn't reflect with gratitude on the health-care system in England and its attention to mental health issues. It even included a "crisis team" that would stop in and stay for a period, ask her questions and monitor how she was faring.
"When I was at my lowest, I constantly needed someone to be at my house," she recalled. "Otherwise, I may have committed suicide.
"I didn't know what was wrong. My husband didn't know what was wrong. My husband's mom basically had to come over and watch me every day."
When Katrina and Andy consulted a physician, it was then she learned about postpartum depression; it's causes, symptoms and methods for dealing with it.
Today Katrina, who lives in Keizer, has established her own business – 40-Sec.com – and donates 30 percent of her proceeds to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The name derives from a sobering fact: according to World Health Organization data, nearly 800 000 people die from suicide every year; one person every 40 seconds.
After Katrina and Andy moved back to the states, she juxtaposed the U.S. health care with that of Great Britain, and she was starkly aware of its shortcomings regarding mental health issues. She decided she wanted to help, and her online business ultimately emerged from that.
"I was researching the mental health lines, and I discovered the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. So I decided that I wanted to donate to that charity and go from there," Katrina said.
Starting a business was new to Katrina, although her parents, Natalie and Alex Vashchenko of Woodburn, used to own and operate a Front Street restaurant, Katya Home of the Perosaki. She attended a Shark Tank's seminar, took courses and she and Andy focused on learning everything they could about essential oils, natural healing and the products they would vend through their home-based 40-Sec.
For her own therapy, she began writing about her worst moment, but tears made so difficult that she instead created a video, and shared it. That video and the business became a way to reach out, and Katrina has been contacted by many who have gone through the same misery.
She can empathize.
"I can tell them, 'Yeah, I've been through it'" she said "Whereas before I had never dealt with a day of depression; never understood depression; never blinked an eye. Then when I got it, I didn't know what was going on."
Katrina once stayed up all night chatting online with one especially despondent person who reached out, sensing too well that she may be close to the edge.
Now as a mother of three and equipped with an understanding of the menacing disorder called depression, she's able to cope with it and even help others.
"Things starting to get a little bit better," she said. "I still take medication for depression. I've heard from people who say my story means a lot. I think helping other people is the main thing…Let them know they aren't alone, and try to help them understand how you can get through this."