This summer, I made the decision not to lead my local Climb Out of the Darkness event next year. It was a hard decision, but this year my heart just wasn’t in it. Some of that was the fall of Postpartum Progress. But if I am honest, I wasn’t super into it last year either.
Organizing an event and busting your butt to reach as many people as possible for support and participation is a lot of work. And for three years, from January through August organizing my Climb was all I did. Dinner wasn’t ready because I spent nap time figuring out why someone said they joined my team when they weren’t registered. I stayed up late reaching out to businesses for sponsorships. I didn’t play with my kids because I had to answer emails about when shirt orders might possibly be ready or when were photos getting posted.
At the end of the day, all that work was worth it for the local moms and families who I reached. I know I provided them with resources and hope and someone to talk to. I helped bring in support groups to our area because we didn’t have any, and I’m damned proud of that. I don’t regret sandwiches for dinner at all. But I do regret not giving my family enough attention.
So, I told my co-leader I couldn’t do it next year. I wanted to focus on other things…My family mostly. But I’d also like to put more work into this space. I can’t do that and organize a Climb. I’ve tried for two years and I’ve failed. The Climb won each time. I just couldn’t figure out the right balance to make everyone, including myself, happy.
Knowing that the Climb will still go on in my city helps with the guilt. I feel like it was my baby, but even parents have to let their babies go at some point.
There have been a couple people who made the assumption that because I’m not going to lead a Climb, I’m giving up on helping moms. That’s far from the truth. You don’t need an event or particular organization to define your advocacy. (I’m looking at you, fellow Warrior Moms.) I’ll always be an advocate because of my personal experience with pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety. I’m not going to stop raising awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). I just want to do it in a different way.
I’ve been sitting on a particular idea for an entire year now. Self-doubt and self-criticism have kept me from taking a leap of faith with it. But now that I’ve firmly made the decision to be a Climb participant vs a leader, I’m diving in.
Starting next month, I’ll be starting a blog series called Surviving the Darkness. This will be an interview series featuring PMAD survivors — parents who developed a PMAD, fought, and came out on the other side.
The harsh reality is that many moms don’t survive. The stigma associated with mental illness, medication, and therapy still prevent many from seeking help. And many people don’t even realize there are other illnesses to watch out for besides postpartum depression.
My hope is that this series will help inspire parents to seek help or give them the courage to talk to their healthcare providers about a treatment option they hadn’t considered before. I want them to realize that many of us have been in their shoes at some point. I want people to realize that the journey to getting better is different for everyone and treatment isn’t a one size fits all deal — but you can survive.
I’m going to follow up with more about this project next week, but in the meantime, if you’re a PMAD survivor and want to participate, send me an email (email@example.com) with the subject Surviving the Darkness Project.
Linking Up At: