How this mom's 'terrifying' postpartum depression turned her into an activist

She launched an app that helps teens deal with suicidal thoughts and mental health issues.
by Donna Freydkin /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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Two years ago, Nicole Zimmerman was a new mom who should have been basking in the joys of first-time motherhood and cuddling her newborn son.

That wasn't the case, to her dismay.

"I had postpartum depression after the birth of my son," she told Megyn Kelly TODAY. "It was a terrifying experience. Having no sense of control of what your body is going through — all I wanted to do was get help and protect my son and enjoy my son and enjoy my life.

"I wanted to seek help so I could be better for him. It gave me the strength to be better for him. I saw a therapist. With therapy and medication, it took a whole year to get totally better. It’s an ongoing process."

Nicole Zimmerman

For Zimmerman, it was nothing new. "I had been struggling with depression and anxiety. The onset age was probably 8. I just thought I was this overly emotional child who was a burden. That’s how I felt growing up," she said.

Once she started feeling better, Zimmerman began looking for full-time work, with the goal of finding something with meaning.

"I wanted to do something more and try to make the world a better place for my kid. Through postpartum I realized I had been struggling for a lot longer," she said. "I didn’t want other kids to go through that and feel alone and not be able to ask for help."

Now, Zimmerman is the program manager at the Alliance for Youth, a Montana nonprofit that helps kids deal with serious issues. She helped create the #LetsTalk app, which gives youths information and resources about mental health and suicide prevention.

According to the American Psychological Association, suicide is now the No. 2 leading cause of death of young people ages 15-24. Zimmerman, whose son, Aidan, is now 2, wants to change those numbers, one youth at a time.

"Just being able to speak out and understand it what kids are going through, it gives me a unique perspective," she said.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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