From photos, you’d think Allison Goldstein had the perfect life. She was married to a great guy and had a brand new baby girl, Ainsley. She was an award-winning elementary teacher, much beloved by her students and her community. But unbeknownst to those closest to her, Allison was being tormented and lied to by postpartum depression—and she never let on.
Photo: Mallory Hudson
That’s why her family was shocked when Allison wrote a goodbye email that was several pages long, checked her 4-month-old daughter into a day care center, drove herself to a dirt road, and took her own life. They literally had NO warning, as Allison kept her depression to herself, and put up a good front that everything was just fine.
“I’m so sorry that I didn’t know how to describe this pain and seek help” she wrote in her goodbye email.
Her grieving family is now breaking the silence that Allison couldn’t bring herself to break, hoping that by telling her story, they will save lives—even just one life would be so worth it—and to encourage families to dig deeper and ask hard questions even if everything seems fine on the surface.
“If this can happen to Allison, it can happen to anyone,” her mom Carol Matthews says.
“Just the days before, she was just the happiest, smiling,” said her father.
“To lose your sister and best friend of 32 years and you just didn’t see it coming,” Allison’s sister, Mallory Hudson, echoed. “I mean without a doubt, you did not see this completely normal new mom to just fall apart so quickly…I wanted red flags. I wanted big alerts.”
It is exactly because they received no warnings and red flags from Allison that her family is speaking out, urging loved ones and spouses of new moms to go the extra mile to make sure they aren’t also hiding a crushing, life-ending depression and pretending that everything is fine while secretly planning a permanent way out.
“She called me every day and asked for advice and to talk. It never really alerted me to anything that wasn’t a new-mom question. She was just that good at keeping it to herself,” Hudson told Mom.me.
Photo: Mallory Hudson
Though her family hopes other lives will be saved by speaking out about Allison’s story, they do want her to be remembered for more than just the way she died. “She was a phenomenal mother, daughter and sister. She truly was a beautiful, beautiful person. I want people to understand that despite her excellence in motherhood and devotion to her husband, she had an illness,” Hudson added.
Adrienne Griffen, a founder of postpartum support Virginia, says suicide is the leading cause of death for women in the first year postpartum—and that’s a frightening statistic that makes this discussion very, VERY necessary.
Postpartum depression and psychosis tells a new mom terrible lies about herself and her life—tells her that it will always be this way, and that there’s no way out, that her family is better off without her. It’s up to friends and families of new moms to be proactive and speak truth into their lives—even if we have no reason to suspect that anything is wrong.
It’s something Allison’s family wishes they had known enough to do—and it’s why they are putting their pain on display to encourage other families to ask new moms the hard questions about their mental health.
“The disease that it is lied to her,” Allison’s sister said. “It twisted so many of her memories about being a new mom, a wife — so many things — it just lied to her. And it’s awful, it’s scary, and it happens and it happens so much more often than we realize.”
As they help to care for baby Ainsley, Allison’s family will tell her how much her mom loved her—and continue to bring awareness about postpartum depression to others.
If you are a new mom and are even feeling a bit blue, please reach out! Postpartum Progress is a GREAT place to start. You are NOT alone, and this world is a BETTER place with you in it.
See more Allison’s story below.