Who was Emily Cook Dyches?
In short, she was a committed mother, a caring daughter, a loving sister, a compassionate and kind neighbor and, most importantly, she was the beautiful and supportive girl of my dreams. She was the one who smiled at you and put you at ease with her expressive eyes—just because she could. She was the person at the community or church event who actually took the time to talk with you and hear your story. She was the mom who learned your kids’ names and asked about them when she saw you. She was the neighbor with the untidy house and smiling children. She was the mom who worried about not measuring up, but always put her best foot forward. She was the wife who supported her husband and worried more about his well-being than her own. She tried to improve her weaknesses. She worked to develop her talents. She judged when necessary, but always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Emily was just as common as anyone in most areas, but where it mattered most—namely interpersonal relationships—she was a shining star. She left an impression everywhere she went. And, unfortunately, she was someone who suffered with a debilitating postpartum mood disorder.
How can that be? How can someone who is seemingly ‘so well adjusted’ have a mental illness? That only happens to the other guy or gal, right? At first blush, it seems impossible and after further exploration it seems completely unfair and even more improbable. It’s too bad mental illness doesn’t deal in ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ and ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’. Those principles are just not found in the playbook of this nasty opponent.
Emily loved the piano. She often played to the delight of her biggest audience—the kids and me. Along with many religious pieces, like Come Thou Fount and Our Savior’s Love, she willingly learned and played whatever I downloaded from the internet. My two favorites: Journey’s Faithfully and then the theme song from The Office. She put a smile on my face every time she passionately played those songs for us on the old, massive, refinished church piano in our living room. Those are days and moments never to be forgotten.
Em, as she was affectionately known by her family and closest friends, had a special bond with her children. She regularly played Clue, Spoons, and Old Maid with them when asked, even when playing such games was not the most convenient choice. She spent countless warm spring and summer evenings at the local elementary playground bonding with her young children while at the same time smiling at me with her big, beautiful hazel eyes, with a look of full support and attention. She was not the perfect mom by any stretch of the imagination. We often laughed about our individual shortcomings. She wasn’t flawless…but she was attentive. She took notice and cared. She valued the impact of motherhood and structured her life and priorities around her beliefs. She wanted so desperately to have a fifth and final child, even though she was only a couple years away from her dreaded 40th birthday. We decided to take the leap and add one more to the fold…
In March of 2015 Emily gave birth to a healthy, blue-eyed, bouncing baby boy—Trey Hudson. Immediately following the delivery however, Emily experienced a traumatic event which caused her great fear and concern. Due to the capable care of the competent clinicians caring for her at the time, Emily made it through this scary event physically unscathed, but likely carried with her some negative emotional effects upon leaving the hospital and returning home two days later.
Upon arriving home, to take care of her newborn and start her new life as a mother of five and wife of a busy husband, she experienced difficulty nursing Trey. This caused great alarm to her. I immediately sensed something was quite different about her. Her sensitivity to small matters was overly heightened and her ability to reason seemed impaired. We decided to seek professional assistance.
From there Emily was diagnosed and treated for postpartum depression and anxiety. She was treated for the illness for several months. During the process we found pockets of very good help, but as a whole the journey was frustrating and the resources seemed disjointed. In short, there were many times I felt like we had exhausted every one of our options and I simply didn’t have anywhere else to turn. Thus, we have created this website to raise awareness and coordinate local resources.
All of Emily’s suffering came to a climax on the afternoon of February 24, 2016. While riding as a passenger in a car on the interstate, she experienced a major panic attack. This panic attack ended up taking her life. Not knowing how to fully respond to what she was experiencing, Emily exited the vehicle and fled to what she perceived was a safe place. Unfortunately, that panic led her into the path of oncoming traffic. She sadly was struck and killed on impact, leaving my children without the mother they loved and needed so much, and me without the girl who made my world turn.
We are now left to pick up the pieces, and that we will do with dignity and grace, just like she exemplified in everything she did. We cry and mourn, but we don’t blame and point fingers of scorn. We hope and create, but we refuse to find reasons to shrink and hate. Our mission now is to raise awareness through light, hope, and knowledge. And that we will boldly and honorably do, in her name, by sharing with the world The Emily Effect.
For more about Emily’s story, KSL TV did a special segment on Emily that aired on May 19, 2016 on the 10 PM news. More information, including a link to the video and text transcript, can be found here.