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Jessica Banas

My father built my first computer as a present for my 31st birthday. I had no idea how to use it… I never wanted to touch it.

Then the second time I became pregnant, I wanted to find out what had happened to me during my first pregnancy to cause me to become so unstable. I found the subject of PPD online but could not figure out how to access information. I was clueless. After a short while I gave up because I thought I would never get PPD again anyway…

A few months after having my daughter Nicole, my husband came home and told me about the Yates family tragedy. I reacted by crying uncontrollably. On the TV I saw those children’s faces… how much the boys looked like my son… how much the little girl looked like my daughter……and how they died so violently… I was inconsolable. I was horrified. I became haunted by the faces of those children.

And the media called it PPD! BUT I had PPD! Could I have done that?! Was it possible I could do that now, at three months postpartum?! I had to find out more…I had to know what happened… and I had to see of there was ANYTHING I could do. With apprehension, I turned on my computer, typed in Yates and was sent to the ABC News Message board. There I learned what PPD was. I realized that this kind of thing would continue to happen unless somebody did something to change it. I realized that I was going to be that somebody. I had to do something to prevent things like this from ever happening again… I had to at least try. For those children and those mothers…I had to try.

Still having NO IDEA how computers worked, I asked lots of questions and disregarded my fear of looking stupid for asking dumb questions. Women I have met ONLINE taught me about links, URLs, spam, Google, how to research, and much more. Kristine Skyberg had survived PPP (Postpartum Psychosis) and was able to clearly show me the differences between sanity and insanity in regards to psychotic behavior. We, in turn, tried to educate others who came to the ABC News Message board searching for answers. ABC shut down the Yates discussion; so in July of 2001, Kristine and I created the Yahoo! Group’s Postpartum Mental Illnesses Group.

While googling I found the PSI website. With the encouragement and help of Tonya Rosenberg, who strongly endorsed PSI as a force for change, I joined PSI.

In my role as a PSI coordinator, I use various techniques to inspire women to be the best they can be by using positive quotes, music, poetry, short stories, and prayer. I also use solid statistical information, books, studies, and research. It is a combination of hard facts mixed with the spiritual – an extremely effective combination.

I get women to the help they need through the PSI coordinators. I refer healed women to PSI to volunteer. I do interventions when required. I love to chat online to inform and encourage women suffering from PPD. I send e-cards to members in need. I have learned how to do HTML programming in order to update our website! Along with Tonya Rosenberg, I helped design the Memorial Page for the lives lost to PPD/PPP and personally chose “Tears in Heaven” as that site’s theme music. A fairytale I wrote about PPD a long time ago continues to inspire women to seek out help and recovery.

Moreover, I am a different person now than the one I started out to be. I am MORE because of what I do, and I am so grateful for that. I want everyone to experience the transformation that I have experienced. I want everyone to live to their greatest potential. This is my deepest desire and one that somehow I will make come true to the fullest extent possible.


Jessica is very proud of the fact that she and other PSI coordinators are seeing “3rd generation” women supporting women with PPD; the women she has helped have trained others who in turn are mentors or “moderators” for other women and families with perinatal mental health issues.

Although Jess says she has a brown thumb when it comes to growing plants, she is very good at cultivating people. In 2001 there were fewer than 300 members of the Online PPD Support Group. Today that community has grown to more than 2800; it is a very active message board and is the largest one available for supporting women with this illness.

She lives by the motto that it’s important to “act locally to help families globally.”

In Jessica’s words, “I am enriched and inspired and ‘fed’ by this work in ways I can’t begin to explain or express to you. I see miracles of change occur in women’s lives daily and am moved by this beyond measure….Someday, I will open a postpartum wellness center here in Pueblo West, and that center will invite professionals and sufferers from across the country so that women can heal and become THE BEST that they were meant to be. That is my ultimate dream and my ultimate goal.”