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 !