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my story: lisa vlooswyk

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Lisa Vlooswyk, known as “Longball” among golf enthusiasts, talks fast. She’s quick to list her athletic achievements, from competing in gymnastics at seven to track and field in high school and university and, since 2000, conquering the golf course by excelling at women’s long drive. Her nickname (coined by reporters who couldn’t spell or pronounce her last name when she came onto the scene) appropriately reflects her current top four ranking in the world.
However, the one thing Vlooswyk felt she couldn’t win at was taking care of her newborn son. “My husband and I read all the books,” she says. “Then we had this baby, and he didn’t read the books. He wasn’t eating or sleeping properly. Nothing went right. I found this very, very stressful.” With no history of depression in her immediate family and after a happy pregnancy that had allowed her to stay active, Vlooswyk didn’t expect a slump, and admits that her type-A personality likely fired up her postpartum depression. “I’m extroverted and social, but I shut everyone out,” she says. “I had the blinds closed and I didn’t answer the phone.”
Vlooswyk finally let Krista Nauss, her best friend since childhood, into her post-baby cocoon. “She kept banging on the door, yelling, ‘I have Starbucks,’ and wouldn’t go away. She gave me a hug. She listened to me,” she recalls. Vlooswyk, who didn’t recognize what she was suffering from, hit the course again and proved what many studies report: Exercise helps relieve the symptoms of postpartum depression. Two months after giving birth and having healed from her C-section, she jumped back into a routine of cardio, light weights and golf. “It helped me feel like myself again,” she says.
In hindsight, Vlooswyk wishes she hadn’t pressured herself to be perfect and that she had reached out to friends sooner. Today, she pays it forward by speaking at events like the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for WOMEN. She tells new moms to ease their worries: “It’s normal to feel like you’re not doing everything right. That doesn’t make you a bad mom…and if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, talk to somebody.”
–Juliette Lie Baxter

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