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.

Why These Women Are Climbing Out of the Darkness of PPD

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climbing out of the darknessThis weekend, Postpartum Progress’ 3rd annual Climb Out of the Darkness will take place in cities in towns throughout the world. Some of the women participating, all of whom are survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPD, have shared with us why they are Climbing. I know many of you will recognize your story in theirs, and I hope it inspires you to keep climbing out of the darkness.

Because I was very excited to be a mom.
Because I was told how wonderful it would be.
Because it was the complete opposite of wonderful.
Because I thought it was “just the Baby Blues.”
Because I knew it would be hard, but not miserable.
Because I felt like I was existing inside a great big cobweb of quiet anger.
Because I was terrified of that anger.
Because I wanted to reach out, but felt like nobody could truly see me or hear me.
Because I was faking it every day.
Because I was ashamed of how I felt.
Because I wanted to nurture and connect with my son, but the more I tried to connect, the more disconnected I became.
Because I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life.
Because my husband and I existed with a lonely chasm between us due to my inability to express what was happening inside of me.
Because I waited 15 months to find help.
Because Postpartum Progress was instrumental to my recovery.
Because I climbed out of the darkness of postpartum depression!
Because I love my son and my husband more than anything.
Because other moms need to know they are not alone in the darkness…
Because it’s scary to share the truth.
Because … I am a Warrior Mom! ~ Ali

I Climb for my daughter, my husband, my parents, and my in-laws. This was my support system in my darkest time. They were there when I wasn’t there mentally, emotionally or physically. They came to therapy and psychiatric appointments. They visited me in the hospital. They kept my daughter healthy and alive when I couldn’t. They woke up with me to feed Sophia. They kept calm and cool in a situation that should’ve driven them crazy with worry. They have my utmost gratitude and love.

I Climb for myself. Somehow I survived an ordeal that rattled my brain and mentality to points this depression sufferer never thought imaginable. I battled by going to therapy, admitting myself into the hospital and taking my meds. I came out stronger.

I Climb for other mothers who have, are or may suffer … To be their support, to show them they are not alone. There is a whole Warrior Mom Family out there to lean on. ~ Stephanie

Because I want better for every woman, child and family.  ~ Kristen

Because a co-worker once told me that only selfish people get PPD, and sadly her complete ignorance is not that uncommon.  ~ Teresa

My ‘baby’ turns 11 today. His pregnancy was what brought me here, to all of you. I was not sure we would make it through, but we did and EVERY SINGLE birthday he has makes me so very grateful. ~ Lara

My daughter turns two on Friday, and Monday will mark two years since my world was turned upside down by postpartum anxiety. I’ve been looking back at photos from when she was tiny and my heart breaks remembering how much I missed in my swamp of anxiety. And, because I expect so much more of myself than I’d ever expect of anyone else, I struggle with the knowledge that I STILL, two years later, am not back to “normal.” So, this week, I’m especially thankful for Postpartum Progress and all of you wonderful ladies. I’m grateful that I have a place to go when I’m feeling lost–a place where I know I’ll be understood. This is why I Climb, so that ALL mothers may know that they have a safe place too. ~ Amber

Because when I had my first I had NO idea what was wrong with me … I was even “taught” about PPD In a parenting class in high school. The only thing I ever heard about was a woman wanting to hurt herself or her baby. I was the complete opposite. I had a debilitating fear. After my second was born I hit rock bottom, and I started to realize how incredibly lucky I am to live in Grand Rapids. The support here is unlike anywhere. I now have a deep passion for working with moms with PPD, being involved makes me feel like I’m making a tiny difference in someone’s life. I want to be apart of the change, and I want every city in the world to have the kind of help and support that we have in GR. Women deserve it. ~ Tabitha

I climb for my brother, sister-in-law and my nephew. I climb to support them and also to encourage others to get help with postpartum depression. I climb because it doesn’t just affect the mom in the family, it takes it’s toll on dad and baby, too. I climb because both of my sisters-in-law have experienced PPD, and they are worth speaking up for. I climb because of the countless friends who have suffered in silence, who had nowhere to turn. I climb because even though I can’t conceive a child I know the impact of a new baby on a family. I climb because Topeka has very few resources to help new moms with PPD. ~ Melanie

I’m climbing because I was ashamed to be diagnosed and I waited forever to get help because of it. I am climbing because I want to help find those moms that are afraid to say anything and tell them there is power in their voice.

I climb because there was a point in time where I did not want to be here anymore; and thankfully, I survived that to be the advocate I am today.

And most importantly, I climb because there is a strong genetic link to my diagnosis, and I want my little girl to know it’s okay to ask for help. And if she does get PPD I want her to know it’s okay to seek treatment and that I will be here to guide her along the way! ~ Christina

I climb because I know what the darkest pit looks like and now I know what the top (or at least close) looks like. I climb because I know how it feels to think you can’t take another step and continue pushing further up that hill. I climb because I know what it feels like to think you have no hope and I know what it feels like to find Postpartum Progress and realize that I am not alone. And finally, I climb because without this group and without this climb, I don’t know where I would be but today I can stand here, loving my two babies more than anything in the world, and hopefully help others who are or have been in the same place. ~ Rebecca

I grew up without my mom present in my life and I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to grow up with a healthy mom and I want moms everywhere to get help even if they aren’t feeling strong enough to seek it out themselves. I want them all to know that self-care is not selfish. Postpartum Progress helped save me. I’m so glad I’m still here for these cuties! ~ Lucy

I’m climbing for myself and every mother who has struggled with postpartum depression and other perinatal mental illnesses.

I’m climbing to raise awareness and erase the stigma attached to mental illness. When a woman becomes a mother she expects (and is expected) to be on cloud nine. When she doesn’t feel ecstatic, it can be very upsetting. And when a mother feels absolutely awful it can cause her to become reclusive.

Society makes it so hard for women to admit that their thoughts and emotions aren’t normal because they feel shame. I want to change that ~ Jolene

I am “climbing” because I know the struggles of depression. Everyone deserves to have a “winning” chance at life. Your support team, whether it’s the community, family, friends, church, therapist, or coworkers can make a huge difference to finding a path that’s right for you to succeed. This group can help so many that struggle with PPD and is an outlet where they can not only receive help, but find some kind of normalcy. ~ Christal

I climb because I worked HARD to get here. My family is strong because I am, they have traveled this road with me! I push every day to climb out of the darkness! ~ Heidi

I am climbing for my two little superheroes. Because they saved me in so many ways. ~ Avery

I climb so others don’t feel alone. I am 16 weeks pregnant and am hopeful that I have the knowledge to make my next postpartum period much better even if PPD comes back. Knowledge is my fight song. ~Alicia

I climb for mamas and families who have struggled and who might struggle. I felt so alone during my battle and I’d give anything to help another mama not feel that way. ~ Anna

I’m climbing for my little peanut and for all the mamas out there fighting! Six months postpartum! I thought I’d never get to this point or feel like myself again. So grateful for my support team and Postpartum Progress! ~ Sylvia

I am Climbing so that other moms can also enjoy moments like this without guilt or shame over all the moments they missed because of postpartum depression and anxiety. So that every last mother who wonders if her illness ruined her child forever can be present enough to realize that the answer is an emphatic “no.” So that the hundreds of thousands of us who were and are in the darkness of mental illness – and all those who love us – can rise up to bring each other into the light of transparency and community. ~ Bethany

I am in the midst of recovery again, though light years ahead of where I was four years ago. So this year, I Climb for myself, my two incredible daughters and the husband that has been my rock throughout both struggles. I Climb for the mothers who are suffering silently in shame, and those suffering who don’t even know that this is not how motherhood is supposed to be. And most importantly I talk to anyone that will listen, in the hopes that anyone who knows a mom that may benefit from my experience can and will share it. ~ Lesley

Why I climb…
– in celebration of coming through hell
– in thanksgiving for the deep love I now have for my son
– in support of all the other mamas out there who struggle
– to make people aware of the seriousness of PPD and related illnesses
– because “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it any more” that maternal mental illnesses aren’t taken seriously by some, and that so many medical providers have no idea how to handle any cases they encounter.
– to show that I’m a SURVIVOR and a WARRIOR ~ Mariah

Why I climb… Because I miss “me.” Because my husband misses “me.” And my kids should know the full “me,” too. ~ Jessica

I climb because 4 years ago I was crippled in fear of my thoughts. I could not move, nor did I want to.
But Postpartum Progress opened my eyes and had me name my illness, postpartum OCD & depression.
There is hope, it is not permanent. ~ Chrissy

As of this morning, there are more than 2,100 Climbers registered to participate in Climb Out of the Darkness, and they have raised $191,000 for Postpartum Progress. If you’d like to register to join us or to donate to help us reach our $200,000 goal this year, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/COTD2015.

Photo credit: Fotolia/jessivanova


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100 Mothers Display Their Strength After PPD & Anxiety [video]

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If you feel alone. If you feel ashamed. If you’re still lost. If you haven’t told anyone yet. Or ever. If you feel like you’ll never get better. If you have gotten better and yet you still look over your shoulder.  If you still grieve for the moments that have been lost to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. If you’re looking for people who’ve been where you are and who truly understand. If you’re ANY of these things, watch this video. 

Postpartum Progress is so happy to launch our official video for Climb Out of the Darkness® 2015. We’re thrilled that we were able to secure the approval to use Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” thanks to Sony ATV. We’re thrilled that around 100 Warrior Moms shared their pictures from around the world so that we could show you

We hope you give this video a thumbs up on YouTube. We hope you share it with other mothers who have been through or are going through maternal mental illness, and the people who care for them.

Even more, we hope you:

1) Take your own Warrior Mom muscle pic, upload it to your Instagram account, AND BE SURE to include the hashtags #climbout #warriormom and #myfightsong. We’ll share those pics on Instagram (follow us on Instagram at @postpartumprogress and you can see the photos we’ve already put up) and on Facebook.

2) Join us at your local Climb Out of the Darkness next weekend. You can find a list of Climbs and how to join them here:  http://postpartumprogress.org/climb-out-of-the-darkness/find-a-climb/  Registration is free. And if you go, you’ll very likely be meeting at least one of the mothers appearing in our video!

3) Ask someone to donate on your behalf! Anyone can donate to the Climb here.

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The Racial & Ethnic Disparities of Identifying & Treating Postpartum Depression

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Jasmine BanksDid you ever wonder if you were suffering from postpartum depression because a friend talked to you about their experience? Did you read a book that reflected your experiences? If you found a narrative that fit with your experience, did you have access to health care because you had a treatment team that believed you?

Often times women dealing with postpartum depression or anxiety will report their difficulties finding a diagnosis and/or helpful treatment and support. Everyone is still working hard to understand PPD and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. As part of this conversation, though, there are two key words that are often overlooked: Exposure and access. These two words are important factors that impact the well-being of protected classes of people. Protected classes of people often have double the difficulty when dealing with maternal mental illness because in order to obtain help you have to be exposed to stories and information that reflect your experience, and then you need access to the processes that allow you to obtain help.

Postpartum depression is a serious debilitating illness that affects approximately 10-20% of women. This statistic, though, is a measure of women who were able to identify what they were going through. Imagine the women, for instance women of color, who aren’t added to this statistic because they don’t have exposure and access to understand what they are suffering with?

A psychiatric study by Katy Backes Kozhimannil and her colleagues yielded results that concluded that, “… there were significant racial-ethnic differences in depression-related mental health care after delivery.” These results outline a stark reality for women of color: they are less likely to be screened for PPD, and less likely to get treatment and receive follow-up care. The results also showed that it was more likely for treatment teams to attribute symptoms of Black and Latin women to other ailments, and not PPD.

To make it plain, while many women are never screened, women of color are bypassed in the screening process even more so, and when they do display symptoms of PPD, other factors are often blamed, so these moms won’t get the help they really need. This reality means it is vital for women who are at risk for perinatal mood disorders to be strong self-advocates. How, the question becomes, can one advocate for something that you haven’t been made aware of? If you have been exposed, how then does one self-create access in a system that either doesn’t offer access to people who look like you, or offers less-effective help or many fewer options?

Awareness for postpartum depression is increasing, yet there are still women who are falling through the cracks due to systemic oppression and racism. We must care for the most vulnerable among us. The Postpartum depression conversation should involve early intervention, treatment, and awareness for ALL women.

The study I mentioned above also cited:

“The differences in initiation and continuation of care uncovered in this study imply that a disproportionate number of black women and Latinas who suffer from postpartum depression do not receive needed services. These differences represent stark racial-ethnic disparities potentially related to outreach, detection, service provision, quality, and processes of postpartum mental health care. Although suboptimal detection and treatment rates are not uncommon for this condition or in this population (7,42,43), these results emphasize that postpartum depression remains an underrecognized (sic) and undertreated (sic) condition for all low-income women, especially for those from racial and ethnic minority groups.”

Over the next 6 weeks I’ll be having leading a conversation here at PostpartumProgress.com about ways to improve the conversation as it relates to women of color and postpartum depression. We will talk about stigma, social constraints, patient-provider communication, and involving more women of color in the change agency efforts. Postpartum Progress means progress for ALL women, which means some difficult and important conversations. I hope you’ll join me.

Jasmine Banks is a writer and Mental Health Professional with a Master’s of Community Counseling and a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and Communications. Jasmine is a Postpartum Psychosis and Depression survivor. You can find more from her on her blog JustJasmineBlog.com or on Instagram (Djazzo).

Founder’s note: One of the goals at Postpartum Progress is to expand our reach and support so that all women are getting the information and help they need. As you all know, in general most women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are not getting the right help. It is also true, though, that women of color get even less access and have even fewer options than the general population. I’ve been an advocate for more than a decade now and I know this to be true because I have seen it with my own eyes. I’m thrilled that Jasmine is joining us to share her experience and knowledge so that we can open our eyes to what all types of women are experiencing and figure out what we can do better. ~ Katherine

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Stand Together for Moms With Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

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climb tee 2015Three years ago Postpartum Progress started an event called Climb Out of the Darkness®. We had no idea what it would become. We only knew we needed an event that would bring together moms from around the country and around the world who wanted to stand together, publicly, to raise their voices and stand up for maternal mental health.

The 3rd annual Climb Out of the Darkness is happening this June, on Saturday June 20th in most locations. At this event, moms like you (and hopefully, INCLUDING YOU) will walk paths and hike trails in solidarity with every mom who has ever had and will ever have postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, postpartum PTSD, or depression or anxiety during pregnancy. We want the world to know how common perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are, and that we need more and better help.

There are already more than 1,200 registered participants in the 2015 Climb Out of the Darkness. The events are being held in places like Anchorage, Alaska and Gainesville, Florida. London, England, and Topeka, Kansas. Concord, Massachusetts and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Detroit, Michigan and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Raleigh, North Carolina and Camano Island, Washington. We currently have 10 Climbs in California, 8 in Texas, 6 in Pennsylvania, and 6 in Washington, and in Colorado and in Florida. There are 5 each in Michigan and New Jersey. We have group Climbs and we have private family and solo Climbs. We have teams led by survivors, teams led by doulas, teams led by therapists and teams led by hospitals.

climb map 5 26 2015

The more of you who join in, and bring along the family members and friends and colleagues who care about you and who care about the mental health of mothers, the better. When we join together in massive numbers, we cannot be sidelined. We cannot be ignored. It’s easy to participate. Registration is free. You are not required to raise money, but if you do decide to fundraise for our nonprofit and you raise $100 or more prior to June 30th, you will receive our official 2015 Climb Out of the Darkness t-shirt (the design is pictured above).

No matter your level of participation, we want you to be part of the Climb. If you’d like to see what it looks like to be standing side by side with other women who have been through exactly what you have, check out some of our photos from past Climbs.  If you have questions, check out our FAQ. If you want to find and join the Climb closest to you, check out our map and Climb listing. If you don’t see a team in your area and want to start one, go for it!! Just email our event manager Amanda Hope at climboutofthedarkness@gmail.com.

If you were thinking you were alone in the world when it comes to struggling with PPD or a related illness, just look where women are climbing!!

  • Alabama: Anniston, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa
  • Alaska: Anchorage
  • Arizona: Phoenix, Tucson
  • Arkansas: River Valley
  • California: Berkeley, LA/Valley, Long Beach, Mission Peak, Palmdale, Sacramento, San Jose, Santa Barbara, Upland, Walnut Creek
  • Colorado: Boulder, Colorado Springs, Durango, Ft. Collins, Red Rocks
  • Connecticut: Meridien, Fairfield, New Haven
  • Delaware: Wilmington
  • Florida: Gainesville, Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Satellite Beach, West Palm Beach
  • Georgia: Atlanta, Savannah, St. Mary’s
  • Illinois: Chicago Downtown, Chicago Western Suburbs, Mt. Vernon, Rockford
  • Indiana: Ft. Wayne, Indianapolis, New Albany
  • Iowa: Mason City
  • Kansas: Topeka, Wichita
  • Kentucky: Louisville
  • Louisiana: New Orleans
  • Maine: Portland
  • Maryland: Baltimore, Gaithersburg, Hagerstown
  • Massachusetts: Concord, Groton, Lincoln, Worcester Co.
  • Michigan: Detroit, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing
  • Missouri: Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis
  • Montana: Missoula
  • Nevada: Las Vegas, Mesquite
  • New Hampshire: Portsmouth
  • New Jersey: Chatham, Hoboken, Jersey Shore, Lincroft, Long Valley
  • New York: Buffalo, NYC, Rochester, Hudson Valley/Housatonic (CT)
  • North Carolina: Charlotte, Raleigh
  • North Dakota: Bismarck
  • Ohio: Cincinnati, Newark
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City, Tulsa
  • Oregon: Corvallis, Eugene, Portland
  • Pennsylvania: Central PA, Emmaus, Lancaster County, New Castle, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
  • Rhode Island: North Kingstown
  • South Carolina: Charleston, Little River
  • Tennessee: Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville
  • Texas: Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Ft. Worth, El Paso, Houston, Pearland, Tyler
  • Utah: Ogden, Salt Lake City, Springville
  • Virginia: Centerville, Fairfax/Loudoun Counties, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Virginia Beach
  • Washington: Bellingham, Camano Island, Kitsap, Olympia, Redmond/Bellevue, Seattle
  • Alberta: East Red Deer County, Edmonton
  • British Columbia: Kelowna, Victoria
  • Nova Scotia: Cape Breton, Halifax
  • Ontario: Ottawa, York
  • Saskatchewan: Moose Jaw, Regina
  • Prince Edward Island: Charlottetown
  • United Kingdom: London
  • United Arab Emirates: Dubai


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