This year, more women will develop a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder than get diagnosed with breast cancer.
These are maternal mental illnesses that can begin during pregnancy or after childbirth. They may take the form of depression, anxiety & OCD, PTSD, psychosis, and/or bipolar. These illnesses are temporary and treatable with professional help.
Yet only 15% of women will get help for them.
Pregnant moms. Moms of three week olds. Moms of 11 month olds. Moms who just stopped nursing their 15 month old. Moms who miscarried or whose babies were born sleeping. Rich moms. Underserved moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home-moms. Adoptive moms. No mom is immune to the number one complication of childbirth, yet stigma and a lack of resources prevent as many as 750,000 women from getting treatment.
I knew from my experience with perinatal depression and anxiety with my first child I needed more than a prescription for Zoloft to get me through the postpartum anxiety I developed when my second child was born. My midwife and son’s pediatricians stressed the importance of getting help; however, none of them could point me to a therapist or support group in the area to talk with.
When my searches for a local postpartum therapist or a support group came up empty, Postpartum Progress’ online support forum gave me a place to ask questions about how I was feeling on my medication or be reminded I would get well again. Their award-winning blog allowed me to read stories from mothers who had walked down a similar path as me.
Postpartum Progress is a nonprofit organization focused on increasing awareness and reducing stigma of maternal mental illnesses and providing peer support for women who suffer from them. They create innovative programs that connect women to information and help, and support them through recovery.
To help stomp out the stigma, give moms around the world a chance to share their stories, and raise much needed awareness surrounding maternal mental health, Postpartum Progress is holding their 4th Annual Climb Out of the Darkness event in June.
Climb Out of the Darkness® is the world’s largest event raising awareness for maternal mental illnesses like postpartum depression. The event is held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the most light on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It features mothers along with their family and friends joining together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness and into the light of hope and recovery.
When Postpartum Progress put a call out for Climb leaders last year, I jumped at the chance to lead one in Fredericksburg. My efforts grabbed the attention of local doulas and Postpartum Support Virginia, and because of them the Fredericksburg-area now has two support groups for pregnant and new moms that meet every month.
Meeting other mothers at various moms groups and sharing stories leading up to last year’s Climb inspired me to organize it again this year. Fredericksburg’s 2nd Annual Climb Out of the Darkness will be on Saturday, June 18. We’ll be meeting at Old Mill Park at 10am before taking a short walk (about 1 mile) along Heritage Trail. It’s a family-friendly event that is open to survivors, fighters, supporters, doctors, doulas, nurses — anyone who believes that maternal mental health is important.
Climb Out of the Darkness is a free event; however, registration is required to participate. If you would like to join us on June 18, please register here: http://bit.ly/COTDFredericksburg2016.
If you have any questions, please contact me (Emma Rinker) at COTDFredericksburg@gmail.com. I hope to see you June 18th!