I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but like so many other things, haven’t found the time. Today is World Mental Health Day so I decided to make time. Because it’s up to all of us to #disablethelabel.
I’ve shared my experiences with postpartum depression on this blog and my previous blog for many reasons. It helped me process. It helped me not feel so alone. And if it took away any shread of the stigma of mental illness, then it was absolutely worth it.
Last year, I stumbled upon an event called Climbing Out of the Darkness. It was an annual walk or “climb” on the longest day of the year (on or around the summer solstice) to bring awareness to maternal mental illness. The date of the 2015 annual event was just around the corner so I couldn’t do much mor than ask my husband and my sister to go on a short hike with me, but I decided that this year I would organize an actual COTD event in my hometown.
I’m proud to say I organized an event with about 30 participants and raised over $700. Yes, most of the participants were friends or family members, and yes $700 might not be a lot, but I’m so glad we did it. It was a simple event; several moms, some dads, some kids, some friends, some family. We climbed up a small volcanic rock escarpment among petroglyphs. We had a banner, snacks, water. We had bubbles with uplifting messages and coloring pages and crayons for the kiddos.
One thing I didn’t expect was all of the people that reached out to say thanks for doing it. Because they or someone they care about had dealt with mental illness. Another thing I didn’t expect was to organize the event in the middle of a depressive and anxious episode.
That’s right. Although, I’m past
whatever that means my bouts of PPD, I experienced a gripping case of anixety at the beginning of the summer. It sucked and while it has released me, it felt very real at the time. So I went through all the same events. Waited and hoped it would get better. Cried. Moped. Saw my doctor. Got back on medication. Went back to talk therapy. Read books. Felt sorry for myself. Put on a brave face. And eventually felt better.
So I stood up on June 18, 2016, in front of friends and family and a few people I’d just met, I talked about why I organized the event. And as my voice cracked a bit when I mentioned I was currently dealing with it, my friend Rashelle grabbed my hand. And I kept going. Because that’s what we do. We grab someone’s hand and we climb out together.
I’m so very grateful to everyone that supported this event. To those that climbed Boca Negra Canyon on a hot summer morning. To those that donated money to support the wonderful work done by Postpartum Progress. To my children who dry my tears when they shouldn’t have to. To my husband who has the fun task of navigating something that just doesn’t make sense, but never leaves my side. To my parents and in laws who love us and take care of us (and take photos of the event!). To my friends who make me smile. To those who try to understand mental illness even if they don’t. To those who understand it, but wish they didn’t. To those who suffer with things you can see. To those who suffer with things you can’t see.
We’ll be back again next year. Until then, #ClimbOut #WarriorMoms !
What is Diner en Blanc? Just the world’s chicest picnic.
I had the pleasure of attending my second DEB a few weeks ago and it was just as fun and magical as I remembered. This time around, I had my handsome husband accompany me en blanc!
70 cities around the world are fabulous enough to host a DEB event and Albuquerque is one of those. To attend, you must be invited, as it’s a bit of a secret (ssshhh!). The 2016 event grew from 1200 to 1400. I think the secret may be out, but it definitely still has an exclusive feel to it.
DEBers rendezvous at different locations around the city to be whisked away to the secret location. This year that location was the enchanting Botanical Gardens at ABQ BioPark. One of the things I love about this event is how it really tries to showcase some of the most beautiful spaces we have in Albuquerque like Balloon Fiesta Park and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. As BioPark members, we’re familiar with how lovely the botanical gardens are. Add a sea of white to that background and you have a perfect garden party. In fact, I think we may have taken some engagement photos there once upon a time.
DEB is a rain or shine event. To prove it, Mother Nature teased us with one of those funny, sunny sprinkles as everyone began to arrive. All afternoon I eyed the ominous clouds looming on the West Mesa, hoping they’d cooperate. As I drove down from the westside to our meeting spot, the sky winked with a perfect rainbow as if to say, “Okay, I’m gonna rain, but just a little.” Well played, weather, well played.
The real challenge of the evening is hauling all your gear to the event (while dressed in your most amazing white ensemble), but we’re old pros so we got this, right? In all seriousness, I will say that once you attend, you definitely learn some lessons about how to do DEB. Since you must bring your own table, chairs and decorations, for me, less is more, or light is right, however you wanna look at it. This year we invested in a cool roll up camping table and used two white folding chairs we had. We draped them in dollar store sheers because elegance on the cheap is how I roll. We also
kinda sorta learned not to go too crazy with a four course dinner. I ordered apps from Jinja and they were perfect (lettuce wraps, spring rolls, tuna tempura sushi). While we still had too much food, it was much easier than what we attempted in round one. As for decor, my ex (date) Vanessa and I raided the Christmas aisle at a crafting store a couple days before the event and we felt pretty darn brilliant as our decor was light and sparkly.
Let’s be real, Diner en Blanc is a real feast for the eyes. If you love
or even like a tiny bit of fashion, DEB is a must. For me, the diamond white outfits are the real MVP. I pretty much look at everyone who passes and secretly wish we were friends who wore the same size so I can borrow their outfits. Who knew there were so many stunning white outfits? For me, Bebe knew, that’s who. When I first began to look for something to wear, I couldn’t find anything. Rolled up to Bebe one day and found way too much. As in bought three white outfits. Good news is I have something to wear for 2017!
The ladies in our party thought we’d try a soft, bohemian look this year so I opted for a long, flowy dress. My favorite compliment came courtesy of my friend Amanda, who said my dress was full of whimsy. Just love that word! And of course I accessorized with a handsome gentleman. And what do you know, my dress included a sheath underneath that made for an awesome wardrobe change just in time for dancing.
This year we were dazzled by all the normal fanfare including the napkin twirling (signifying the start of dinner) and sparkler lighting. There were a few WOW moments this year. First, the God’s House Church choir popped up and strolled through the crowd singing Seasons of Love from Rent (my absolute favorite musical). Although our tables weren’t close enough to hear, I heard that The Noms played and they were great. Then some people got married in the Rose Garden. Like for real. Finally, it was time to dance the night away. DJ Patrick Baldonado kept the party going.
There are a lot of people who make DEB happen and to them I lift my glass of Vara Apothic White! Sandia BMW who hosted the fun preview party. Lilly Barrack who tempted us with gorgeous jewlry. Starfire PR for kindly extending an invite to cover the event. And the hair and makeup wizards at Toni & Guy Hairdressing Salon that pulled a real fairy godmother on me. Of course, shout out to Cat, Matt, Taylor and their rockstar Blanc Team. Merci beaucoup!
If I have one piece of advice to anyone thinking of joining the fete next year, bring a phone charger. As you stroll through the crowd, you will see old friends, and new friends, and news people, and cool costumes, and mayors, and future mayors, and flash mobs, and white donuts, and headdresses, and mason jars, and gorgeous scenery. And selfies. Et voila!