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Career

Designer Kelly Wynne Opens Up About Her Personal Battle With Postpartum Depression

Kelly Wynne Ferguson started her company, Kelly Wynne, in 2012 from her parents’ kitchen counter in Austin, TX. She first started sketching because she wanted to design handbags that make women look and feel fabulous. Fast forward to 2018, Kelly and her husband welcomed their first baby, a daughter named Neely Wynne. On the outside, Kelly embodied the fun and uplifting lifestyle her brand emulated to the world. On the inside, Kelly just wasn’t feeling like herself. Eventually, Kelly sought help and discovered that she, like xx% of women in the US, was suffering from postpartum depression.

In the Spring of 2019, we sat down with Kelly to talk openly about launching her business, becoming a mom and how she managed her personal battle with postpartum depression.

Q&A with Kelly Wynne

Kelly:  I went to school at Ole Miss and studied studio art with a focus on graphic design. When I graduated, the job market was really tough and I was kind of like, well, ‘what am I going to do with this art degree?!’  I moved to Dallas and landed a position at a PR company and I was scared half to death writing press releases because that was not my strength. But I learned so much in my first job.

I had a mentor in Dallas that I would get together with occasionally. She was like a mom figure to me. I had dreamed of being a handbag designer, but just felt like that was an unrealistic career path because my mom is a labor and delivery nurse and my dad is in construction. I really put it up on a pedestal, like the fashion industry was only for celebrity-type people. But my mentor encouraged me to push those thoughts out of the way. She suggested that I just start sketching. So I did that. Then the more I started working, the more I was determined to do it.

Whitney: That’s amazing you have been able to establish your business and build such a strong community in such a short amount of time! Can you talk about mom-life. You’re a new mom to 8 month old Neely Wynne. What has the transition been like? Running your company, Kelly Wynne, and becoming a mom at the same time?

 

Kelly: Well, you know, I had a lot of anxiety leading up to becoming a mom because it’s something I always wanted, but I didn’t know how it would all fit in with my crazy business life. I was worried about feeling inadequate, even though I wanted to start a family so badly, I was kind of crippled by this fear of not being able to do it all or not doing it well enough and for being judged for not doing the best job, not being the best, boss, wife, mom.I feel like we all probably feel a sense of that in some way.

In a lot of ways becoming a mom has forced me to have more of a work life balance because I’ve chosen to be present when I’m home. I don’t want to miss the big moments or regret being on my phone nonstop while Neely Wynne is growing up so quickly. When I say balance, I really just mean doing the best I can and giving myself grace, I have to tell myself every day, ‘give yourself grace’, because I’m definitely not able to do it all. Even though I feel like we’re expected to, but grace is the name of the game for sure.

Whitney: You shared with your community about how you struggled with postpartum depression after Neely Wynne was born. Can you talk about that? I know so many moms experience it, but a lot of times we don’t know that we are going through it, or even what it really is. Can you talk a little bit about what that experience was like?

Kelly: Definitely. So I feel like shame plays a major role in postpartum depression and it prevents women from getting support. I believe it’s fair to say that most new moms will experience some sort of impairment of mood or behavior with so much lack of sleep or even eating. You know, you’re constantly feeding your baby.  But you need to take time to feed yourself as well and take vitamins and different things. A combination of all these things brings on exhaustion and can really result in this foggy kind of sour, sad, cloud hanging over your head.

What’s really interesting to me is that when I went in for my six week postpartum checkup, I was asked to fill out a form for my doctor about postpartum depression. The form asks questions about these extreme situations, questions about whether or not you have thoughts or feelings about harming yourself or your child and I never felt that way.  I can’t even describe how much love I have for my baby girl. So I didn’t relate to that form and kind of brushed it aside and really at that point I was still feeling good. It really didn’t hit me until later.

Whitney: How old was Neely Wynne when you started feeling like you were going through something?

Kelly:  I went back to work when Neely Wynne was nine weeks old and that was much tougher than I thought I would be. I was so excited to get back into the swing of things, but  it was just really overwhelming, especially when I was nursing and pumping in between meetings. One day I was speaking on a panel and I had to literally go find a random place to pump in between the panel discussions. That it was a lot, but I also had to laugh at myself too. I decided to stop nursing somewhere between three and four months. That was a difficult decision, but I just felt like with my work schedule and in terms of just keeping my sanity, it was the right decision for me.

Right around that time is when I felt like there was another huge drop in hormones, something crazy was going on with my body as it adjusted to not nursing anymore. I started feeling like I had that foggy, sad cloud, just hanging over my head and I started crying for no reason, every single day. Some days I would go into the bathroom and ask myself, ‘why am I here crying right now?’ I also had a lack of motivation and low energy, which is so unlike me.

I’m always the one keeping everyone on track and enthusiastic at work and that’s kind of what I do. So when I was going into work in this fog and feeling like I couldn’t do it, I felt hopeless. That’s when I realized something was wrong. But at that point I did not know that I was going through postpartum depression and anxiety. I suffered through it for two months before talking to anyone about it.

I talked to my husband about it, but I just feel like it’s tough for men to really understand. He’s a fixer, so he just wanted to fix it, which kind of made it worse at the time. Then I started hiding it from him because I didn’t want him to be worried about me, which made it even worse. Finally over Christmas, I talked to my mom about it. She was a labor and delivery nurse and she said, ‘Kelly, I really don’t want to mess with postpartum depression. You really need to get ahead of this because the earlier you can catch it the better, and the women that just let it go on and on and don’t talk to anyone, just go deeper and deeper into a hole.’ It’s weird that I didn’t talk to her sooner. You know, I went on for two months without saying anything and she lives in Austin so I see her all the time! I just kind of put a face on it and I think it goes back to that whole idea that women feel ashamed because they just had this miracle happen to them. It’s not talked about enough.

Whitney:  I remember after having my second baby I would cry randomly at the dinner table or in my room and I didn’t know why. I definitely think I experienced a little bit of that too, but I didn’t talk to anybody. It’s just something you feel like, ‘Oh, I can handle this, I can do it all.’

Kelly:  I’ve been praying about it so much and I just felt like the Lord was wanting me to share my story because of that reason.

When I shared about my experience on my social media, I had hundreds of women reaching out. It took me the next two days to respond because I wanted to be thoughtful in my response to everyone. It was just so sweet that people were sharing their stories with me and giving me words of encouragement, that I of course needed to hear, when I was also trying to give them words of encouragement.

Whitney: It’s so amazing to have that kind of  support system and a platform where you can do that. What were your next steps? How did you get help through that process?

Kelly:  I had a Christian counselor that I had talked to in previous years that helped me through some things, so I reached out to her because she knows a lot of my story already. I confided in her and she asked me all the really tough questions and she was just like, ‘Kelly, you know, you’re going through postpartum depression and anxiety and it’s O K.’ I just remember ending the first phone call, thinking how I hate feeling this way. She also encouraged that I talk to my OB/GYN, so that was my next step.

When I was in there crying to my OB and embarrassed, he was like, ‘Kelly, there was another mom that came in right before you struggling with postpartum depression. She recently had her third baby and  has never experienced postpartum depression before. So, you know, your body can do just crazy things that you’re not prepared for and it’s okay.’ He suggested I get on an antidepressant and anxiety med. That’s something that I feel like people have been a little controversial about because no one wants to say they’re on an anti-anxiety med. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to share that, but I really feel like getting on something has helped me so, so much.

During the first six months of Neely Wynne’s life, I felt like I sort of lost myself a little bit. I was just focused so much on her. I eventually realized that I need to make time for me too. So I started waking up 30 minutes in the morning to have my quiet time. That is something I do every day now. It just starts my day off on the right foot. If you take time for yourself to do the things that are non-negotiable, it puts you in a better place.

Kelly Wynne is based in Austin, Texas. You can find her company online at kellywynne.com or follow her on Instagram @shopkellywynne.

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