Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

Grab Your Big Girl Panties and Ass-Kickin’ Boots

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Boot heels all in a rowGreetings Warrior Moms and all my fellow Climbers,

Katherine and more than 100 amazing Climb Out of the Darkness leaders have been working furiously behind the scenes to get ready for 2014’s Climb out of the Darkness.  Many people are asking what we plan to do with the funds we raise and what we did with the money we raised last year.  Great questions.  And they are easy enough to answer with a list of specific projects that I’ll set out in a minute.  But here’s the thing.  What we, and by we I mean all of us volunteers, supporters and lovers of Postpartum Progress, need to get our head around is this—what we are setting out to do is much bigger than this list of projects.  We are raising money so we can put on our big girl panties and our ass-kickin’ boots to become an even bigger force for awareness and support for moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

This, my friends, is no small feat.  And while keeping the proverbial lights on at the blog and creating great new educational tools for moms and their health care providers are really important and critical projects, they aren’t enough. They aren’t enough to end the suffering of women who struggle with maternal mental illness without knowing they have a treatable disease.  They aren’t enough to ensure that there will be comprehensive and quality medical care for all these women.  They aren’t enough to halt the generations of women who suffered in silence or who were shunned for their illness.  They aren’t enough to stop the damage being done to the families caught in this cycle.

I am going to stand on a mountain top on June 21st and scream ENOUGH!! —Enough. With. The. Darkness.

Yes, my big girl panties are on. And, for the record, they have gotten just a wee bit bigger during motherhood.  But so has my ass-kickin’ strength, thanks in large part to overcoming my postpartum OCD.  And we are going to do our very best here at Postpartum Progress to create a world-class non-profit that has the staff to maintain our existing programs and to grow our delivery capabilities so we can double the awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders around the world in the next five years.  And to do this, we need to free up Katherine’s time to focus on leadership and strategy, like going after grants with foundations and corporate sponsorships so we can create even more powerful programs reaching even more women.  With a powerful organization behind us with significant funds to invest, we can start to launch a major global awareness campaign.  And we know we can succeed because we are powered by you — Warrior Moms. Our strength and unique knowledge comes from the fact that we serve a motivated community of survivors who engage with us in a variety of ways to help our community heal.  And we know how to connect with families struggling with maternal mental illness with inspirational, hip, and evidence-based information.

Back to the question at hand.  We can say to potential donors that a $10 donation, for example, will keep the lights on for our blog for a day. For $50, donors can help us educate and support more than 20,000 moms for just one week of the year.  Last year, Climb Out of the Darkness raised $42,000 last year and with that money we:

  • Developed and will soon distribute an important infographic that shows the downstream effects on mothers, families and societies from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
  • Updated our non-profit website (the .org) and thus tripled its traffic, reaching even more women with the message that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are temporary and treatable
  • Launched a private forum for women struggling with maternal mental illness that now supports more than 340 moms across the country
  • Continued to run and grow the most widely read blog in the world on maternal mental illness, with 1.1 million pageviews last year
  • And we still had enough funding leftover to continue our project to develop educational materials for moms and their healthcare providers.

This year our goal for Climb Out of the Darkness is to raise $100,000, and as of today — the first day of Maternal Mental Health Awareness month — we have already met nearly 30% of that goal thanks to the tireless survivors and current sufferers of these illnesses who believe in us and are standing up and speaking out on our behalf. But let’s also say that even $100k isn’t going to allow us to accomplish our biggest objectives. It takes $3 million dollars to launch a real, multi-pronged, effective public awareness campaign to forever change the course of women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. We’re excited about all we have the opportunity to accomplish, but we’ll never be able to do it without you. If you feel Postpartum Progress made a significant impact on your recovery, or even helped save your life, we need you. Stand proud with us as we tell our friends, families and neighbors that we have big goals. Join us in the Climb. And, in the meantime, you can tell everyone you know that Postpartum Progress will be launching some pretty amazing stuff in the next 24 months, including updating and expanding our blog including a Spanish language version, creating a video PSA, and starting the development of a mobile app that supports moms through PPD and related illnesses.

Join me in kickin’ ass and thinkin’ big!

Love,

Deborah Rimmler, Board of Directors, Postpartum Progress

 

photo credit: © Kevin Largent – Fotolia.com

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Big News!!! Announcing the 2015 Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference

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In 2004 came Postpartum Progress the blog.

In 2011 came Postpartum Progress the nonprofit.

In 2013 came Postpartum Progress’ Climb Out of the Darkness, the world’s largest event raising awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

And in 2015 …

Warrior Mom ConferenceANNOUNCING THE FIRST-EVER WARRIOR MOM CONFERENCE, a patient-centered, community-focused conference for survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and those still working toward full recovery. There are several great conferences focused on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders mainly aimed at clinicians and organizations in the maternal mental health field, but this, my dear Warrior Moms, is for us!!! Get ready to get together in Boston next year!

The Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference will be a time for us to do three things together: CELEBRATE recovery, BUILD community, and DEVELOP powerful skills for raising awareness and advocacy to help our fellow Warrior Moms around the world.  We will offer self-care workshops, Q&A sessions with top experts in reproductive psychiatry, keynotes and panel discussions, a live PPDchat with its creator Lauren Hale, and so much more we can’t wait to tell you about! The conference will allow us to gather together to share stories and information in a caring and supportive environment.

Here’s what you need to know now:

  • The conference is July 11-12, 2015 (SAVE THE DATE!!), in beautiful Boston, Massachusetts. We’ll be taking over Boston’s beautiful Back Bay at the St. Botolph’s Club – a historic brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue that is the perfect setting for our powerful yet intimate gathering.
  • Early Bird registration is $125 until June 1, 2014, wherein the registration fee will go up to $150. Registration will be capped at the first 125 tickets sold, so you’ll want to register as soon as possible to avoid missing out on all we have planned for that weekend!
  • We are working with area hotels to provide attendees with great rates on lodging — that information will be forthcoming.

This conference wouldn’t be possible without the work of three very special Warrior Moms: Susan Petcher, A’Driane Nieves and Miranda Wicker. Together with the help of other volunteers they have worked their butts off to make this happen, and I am forever grateful to them for their dedication, leadership and hard work.  They are leading the charge on making this an amazing event, and I cannot WAIT!

Spots to attend this conference are limited, so if you want to be the first to know when registration opens up (soon!), sign up for our email alert by clicking the button below and filling out the super short form. Don’t miss it! We want to see you in Boston!

Be the first to know!

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Join Climb Out of the Darkness 2014 – World’s Largest Event for Moms with PPD & More

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Climb Out of the Darkness 2014Well friends. It’s that time of the year. I’m so excited! Registration is now open to the public for Climb Out of the Darkness™ 2014.

New here? Wondering what Climb Out of the Darkness is? It’s the world’s largest event raising awareness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and OCD, postpartum bipolar disorder, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression and anxiety. The event was created by and benefits Postpartum Progress Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports pregnant and new moms with maternal mental illness.

Women around the world participate in this grassroots event by going on a hike, climb or walk outside on the longest day of the year (June 21st) to shine a light on PPD and related illnesses. The event is open to anyone and everyone who supports our cause. Anyone can participate, as long as they register, and registration is free.

There isn’t a single Climb, but many being held throughout the world. To participate in Climb Out of the Darkness™, you have several options:

  1. You can join a group Climb. Group Climbs are open to all. To see the current list of Climbs and join one in your area, check out our Climb map here. Then register here, and be sure to click “Join A Team” and select the city location for your Climb during registration from the drop down list. We already have 85 teams in 34 states and 5 countries, so check them out!
  2. You can choose to do an individual Climb. This means you plan to go on a Climb by yourself, or just privately with your own family or friends, and prefer not to join a larger group of women you don’t know.  Just pick the spot where you plan to Climb and then register by clicking “Fundraise as an individual” in the registration process.
  3. You can start and lead a group Climb. If you’d like to be a Climb leader in your area and allow others to join, go for it!  Group Climbs are groups of approximately 10 or more. As a Climb leader – we like to call them Sherpas! – your responsibilities will include recruiting participants to your Climb and encouraging fundraising and team spirit. Just indicate when you register that you’re click Create a Climb, and then name your team based on the state and city of your Climb (for example, Georgia – Atlanta, Alaska – Anchorage or Texas – Austin). We’re happy to email you a team leader guide if you just send us an email to postpartumprogress [at] gmail [dot] com. Team Climbs can be created anytime between now and May 15, 2014. Just please make sure to look at the map first and check if there’s a Climb already in your area before you create one. 

Registration for Climb Out of the Darkness 2014 is being hosted by Crowdrise. So go here NOW!!, and register by clicking the blue button. Be a part of something BIG!!!! We can’t wait to Climb with you.

For more info:  Climb Out of the Darkness FAQ

To sponsor: Climb Out of the Darkness Local & National Sponsorship Info

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What Postpartum Depression Recovery DOES NOT Look Like

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postpartum depression recoveryI’m going to give you a little tough love today because I care about you and there are some very important things I want you to know. So I’m going to give them to you straight. Here is what full postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression recovery DOES NOT look like:

> Your recovery does not look like the other mom’s treatment plan. You are not her. She is not you. Your plan is the only one that matters.

> Your recovery does not look like a race. It is not about who’s the fastest and the best at getting better. It’s not helpful to hurry. There are no ribbons for who gets there first. In fact, racing too fast can sometimes send you right back to the starting line. Be patient and gentle with yourself.

> Your recovery does not look like doing this all by yourself to prove how smart, or strong, or accomplished or how good of a mom you are. Postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum PTSD and postpartum psychosis are real illnesses. REAL. They require professional treatment. Trying to prove something is a waste of your energy that is better focused on taking care of yourself so that you can get well. You don’t have to prove anything. (And P.S. Don’t worry. We already knew you were awesome.)

> Your recovery does not look like a refusal to accept that you might have a mental illness. It sucks. I know it. I promise you I know it. The first time a doctor told me I had a mental illness (“postpartum OCD”) I was like, “No way. No how. Not happening.” Except it was, in fact, happening. I had to get past that to be open to getting the help I needed. Also, a maternal mental illness is not a prison sentence. It’s not an indication that you’ve done something wrong, or that you shouldn’t be a mom, or that you can’t handle being a mom, or that you are a bad mom, or that you are weak, or defective, or failing, or all those terrible, horrible bad adjectives we use to describe ourselves in the midst of it. It’s an indication that you have an illness and that you probably have some risk factors that led to that illness, and that it’s important to find out what the illness is and what those risk factors were and then address them. I’ve probably said this ten thousand times but postpartum depression is temporary and treatable with professional help.

> Your recovery does not look like you hanging on until you’ve gotten way too sick because you didn’t want anyone to think you needed help. Everyone needs help. EVERYONE. We know asking for help sucks. But we need you to do it anyway.

> Your recovery does not look like a medal ceremony where you’re standing atop the podium because you made it through without ever taking any medication. Not everyone needs medication, for sure. For many, therapy works just fine. And I don’t mean therapy like going once or twice, but going as often as your therapist says you need to — therapy is a treatment at this moment and not a nice-to-have.  You’re not better or stronger for not taking medication if it’s called for in your particular situation, or for not going to therapy. I’ve seen way too many women get so much sicker than they ever needed to be, and take longer to recover, because they refused a treatment plan.

> Your recovery does not look like you doing all the crafty things that moms say they do on Pinterest or Facebook. Don’t waste your time trying to keep up with other moms, many of whom aren’t doing all of that stuff anyway. You do not have to have the world’s best first birthday party for your baby. You do not have to have a perfectly clean home where you make sure everyone is perfectly fulfilled and perfectly dressed and perfectly fed. Your baby does not need to be reading by age one. Or speaking multiple languages. Your baby just needs you and not all that other stuff. And if and when you are able to take breaks — BREAKS ARE IMPORTANT! — your baby is absolutely fine being with another caregiver who loves him or her, or takes good quality care of him or her. Very fine.

> Your recovery does not look like having the perfect family and the perfect partner and the best support system in the world. Because maybe you don’t. Maybe your family doesn’t understand, or your spouse is not being helpful. I hate that for you. If I had a magic wand I’d make sure every mom with maternal mental illness had the most amazing and understanding and comforting support team around her. It’s what each and every one of you truly deserves. Except I don’t have a magic wand and some of you aren’t getting the help you deserve. It’s unfair and I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. At the same time, I want you to know you can still get better even when you aren’t in the perfect situation. It makes it much easier to have that support, for sure, but if you don’t have that kind of support please don’t think all is lost.

> Your recovery does not look like quitting your treatment plan the first week you feel better. Do yourself a favor and don’t do that.

> Your recovery does not look like smooth sailing the whole way through. You will have good days and bad. You will go along fine for a while and then have a setback and be shocked and worried about it. Setbacks are common. They are not a sign that you will never get better. They are just setbacks. You will get past them.

> Your recovery does not look like being quiet if your treatment plan isn’t working or your healthcare provider isn’t helping you. You are the MOST IMPORTANT PART of your recovery plan. How you are feeling. How you are following the plan. What symptoms you are still having and which ones you aren’t. Which side effects, if any, you can deal with and which ones you can’t. Speak up. Share as much as you can. This helps your healthcare pro see how things are going and what changes might need to be made to your plan. If a doctor just gives you a prescription and doesn’t set up appointments to keep following up with you, insist on follow up or find a different doctor who is interested (as they should be!) in making sure you are getting better.  You never know who might be the most helpful to you during this time. It could be your OB, or your pediatrician, or your primary care provider, or a therapist, or a social worker, or a community clinic, a nurse, or the other moms in a postpartum depression support group who can direct you to more experienced help. So speak up.

I get so many questions about recovery. How long does postpartum depression recovery take? When will I get better? Why am I not getting better? Why is she already better and I’m not? Do I have to follow this treatment plan? When can I quit this treatment plan? There are so many different answers to those questions depending on who you are as a unique individual. There is not a single correct answer. So your recovery does not look like anyone else’s. It looks like yours.

What matters to me is your individual health. That you give yourself the time and space to get better. Your postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression recovery looks like your plan, based on your specific set of symptoms and risk factors, in your timeframe and on your path. We’re behind you. You’re not alone.

~ Katherine

 

For more on this, you might like this story with 70 unique and individual and wonderful moms, all sharing the thing that helped them recognize they were getting better from postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, and more.

 

Photo credit: © graletta – Fotolia.com

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