This was a rocky year for Climb Out of the Darkness. Planning season started for me in January. I debated a LOT between October and then on whether I wanted to lead a Climb this year. I wasn’t happy with communication between our leadership and the rest of the Climb leaders the year before. I finally decided that if I could find a co-leader I’d give it one more shot. I did, and things started out well. I started to find a spark of excitement about the possibility of our city’s Climb growing again this year. The Climb would be in its fifth year, and there was a lot of excitement amongst Climb Leaders about that milestone as well.
Then at the end of February, Postpartum Progress fell apart. The board was accused (for a second time) of microagressions towards Women of Color. Within four days sponsors were called upon to withdraw their support of the organization. A petition was formulated and circulated asking 1) for the board to step down and be replaced by a more diverse group of people or 2) the dissolution of the non-profit.
The board chose Option 2.
Once again, I felt like the communication between Postpartum Progress and its volunteers and followers was less than ideal. Climb Leaders were told to “stop and breathe” while Postpartum Progress began finding organizations to take over their programs. While we did, important pieces of information were handed out by board members on their personal Facebook pages – NOT formal posts on blogs, websites, or group Facebook pages we followed or belonged to. I felt maybe this was a sign. I wasn’t super excited about leading a Climb this year…Maybe this was a sign that I needed to sit this year out while everyone got their acts together.
It was my co-leader that insisted we move forward. Our city needed an event like this, she said. Deep down, I knew she was right. So, we stopped and breathed for a couple weeks before learning that Postpartum Support International (PSI) would take over Climb Out of the Darkness. Then we were told to stop and breathe again for a few more weeks while PSI figured out their own logistics of taking on a world-wide event.
Nearly three months before Climb Day, things started falling into place. But my momentum was shot. I decided to refocus and keep in mind the point of Climb Out of the Darkness: honoring our journeys through perinatal mental illness. Even if I only walked with my co-leader, that would be enough. I stopped pursuing sponsorships. I didn’t go out of my way to deliver fliers to local businesses like I did last year. I’ve been doing what I can with the time and energy I have — which lately, hasn’t felt like much.
I’ve likened my experience with this Climb to my experiences recovering from postpartum depression and/or anxiety. I’d be moving along towards the light at the end of the tunnel only to wake up one day and find myself several steps back. Plus, I was constantly being told to “Just Breathe” (*insert eye roll here* – I can’t stand that advice, despite it having some good effects).
Recovery from a PMAD isn’t linear or always easy, and neither has the planning process for this year’s Climb.
In light of the organizational shift, the 5th Annual Climb Out of the Darkness doesn’t appear to be as big as previous years – either in size or money raised. But like we tell new Climb Leaders every year: size and money aren’t what matters; it’s knowing you reached out and raised awareness in your community. So that is what I’m doing here today.
There are still many Climbs being organized around the world and Climbs are being organized in places where there hasn’t been one in the past. I haven’t had as much experience with Postpartum Support International, but they were the organization I was secretly hoping would take over Climb Out of the Darkness. I’m so glad they did. An event like Climb Out of the Darkness is one of its kind; one that is very much needed. I didn’t want to see it dissolve along with its founding non-profit.
What is Climb Out of the Darkness®?
Climb Out of the Darkness® is held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the most light on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The event features mothers, fathers, and others across the globe joining together to climb mountains and hike trails to represent their symbolic rise out of the darkness of perinatal mental health crises and into the light of hope and recovery. By joining, you’ll help us shine the light of hope with our words and advocacy so that our fellow mothers and fathers receive better information and better treatment, and new families will get off to the healthy and strong start they deserve.
Who is Postpartum Support International?
Postpartum Support International (PSI) was founded on June 28, 1987 by Jane Honikman in Santa Barbara, California at the first annual conference on “Women’s Mental Health Following Childbirth.” The mission of promoting awareness, prevention, and treatment of mental health issues related to childbearing was created by this global network of individuals and organizations. Since its founding, PSI’s vision has been to establish a postpartum parent support network in every community worldwide.
Whether you’re a new mom, seasoned mom, a significant other or friend, or just someone who wants to raise more awareness about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, I hope you’ll consider registering for a Climb near you. These are free, family-friendly events that are being organized by women who have “been there” with these illnesses. Some will involve a hike up a trail and some (like mine) will involve a one mile walk along a path. Each will be unique but they’ll all be special.
Most Climb Out of the Darkness events are being held between June 17 and July 2. To find and register for a Climb near you visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/COTD2017