Mental Health and Woman on the Edge

Thanks to Canada CouncilThe Writers’ Union of Canada and Simon & Schuster Canada, Samantha M. Bailey, author of the #1 national bestseller Woman on the Edge, will be visiting Vaughan Public Libraries’ Adult Book Club on May 20, 2021. I wanted to invite Samantha for two reasons: first, she’s originally from Thornhill and used to frequent the Bathurst Clark Resource Library (had I met her already?!); second, while many would agree that her bestselling title is most successful in the gripping pace, nonetheless it promotes mental health awareness in a way, just in time for the Mental Health Awareness Week in May.

I’d save most of the conversation about this intriguing psychological thriller and Samantha’s creative process for the event night. But if you can’t wait, take a quick peek at our Vaughan Reads video :)! Don’t forget to register on Eventbrite and enjoy an evening with Samantha on May 20!book cover of Woman on the Edge

Here, I’d like to talk more about mental health. Although Samantha’s writing emphasized more on creating a suspenseful page turner than exploring the matter of mental health, postpartum depression was one of the sources that had inspired her work. Her depiction of the protagonist Nicole Markham’s postpartum depression symptoms is absorbing. I’m pretty sure it resonates with many mothers. I myself had experienced a long period of postpartum blue after I had my first child. Without any social support (no parents, no friends nearby, only a husband as inexperienced as I was), brand-new motherhood had struck me with far more anxiety than joy. Even now, I can still vividly recall how strange my feeling was when I first saw my son’s wrinkly, bruised face when he had finally been suctioned and forcepped out of me after thirty-six hours of induction and labour – my heart raced with panic and wondered if I could have returned him like returning a wrong-sized T-shirt, and that feeling had caused guilt in me in every single second of the next six weeks. I still remember I would wake up every twenty minutes at night, gasping, worrying that my son’s little life would go cold before I could enjoy it. I would constantly get up to check on his breathing, never mind he was always hungry and woke me up every one or two hours to be fed, while my body was still experiencing  severe pain from the traumatic delivery. Anxiety prevailed. Depression followed. The beginning of my motherhood was ever rough! Fortunately, the chemicals in my brain didn’t act up, and my symptoms gradually dispersed as my son became more playful about six weeks later.

But Nicole Markham was less fortunate. Her mental health condition worsened, compounded by her other experiences. Though some may disagree with how authors in this genre treat the subject of mental health and the development of the suffering characters in their books, I do think Samantha’s work has promoted an awareness on recognizing mental health – mental illnesses are like any other diseases, in need of proper medical attention. As a society, we should break down the stigma, not be afraid to talk about this matter, and help the people in need. I have a friend, whose father had mental health issue, and my friend himself had recognized his own mental health problem when he was a teenager, but he hadn’t sought help until two years ago, after over thirty years of suffering. Why? It makes me wonder.

This year, Canada celebrates Mental Health Awareness Week during May 3 – 9. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask everyone to check in with yourself and the people around you, seek help and offer help, if necessary – it feels good to help out and get help!

I’d also like to share some of the mental health resources that my colleagues have compiled as to the four pillars of mental health. We hope these resources will help you or the people you know – let’s share them!

Emotional Indicators

How are you feeling? Angry? Glad? Frustrated? Sad? How about considering the following items that can guide you to manage your emotional mental health by reducing anxiety and stress.

Social Impacts

Social isolation has long been known as a key trigger for mental illness. However, staying in contact with friends, family and neighbours and supporting relationships are beneficial to the mental health of everyone.

Financial Strategies

Financial wellness and good mental health go hand in hand. A sound financial planning helps achieve stability, overcome financial setbacks, and assist in gainful happy life goals and good mental health.

Physical Well-Being

Mental health and physical well-being are connected. Through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and quality sleep both mental and physical health can be improved.

About Heather

Heather is the Librarian II, Literacy and Readers' Advisory, with the Vaughan Public Libraries. Her job is to connect leisure readers and aspiring writers with the endless space of imagination and creation through words in all forms.  |  Meet the team