Today I’m so pleased to share an interview with postpartum depression survivor Sara Binkley-Tow from Moms Bloom. She’s the Warrior Mom who, with her husband, recently attempted to swim 50 miles across Lake Michigan to raise awareness of postpartum depression and raise money for PPD non-profit organizations.
Just like those of you who have struggled against the currents of postpartum depression and won, Sara and Jeff struggled against the currents of Lake Michigan and won.
Our training started a year ago with strength training in the pool which included pulling a rubber bucket attached to our feet for the majority of the year. We were in the water at least three times a week and did dry land workouts as well. In May, we started open water training in 50-degree temperatures that ramped up from 5 miles to 30 miles. The training in many ways was the most difficult part. It was a lot of hours in the water and we traveled each weekend to swim in Lake Michigan. As a family, we sacrificed a tremendous amount, but we knew the cause to raise awareness was much more important. We were grateful to be given the opportunity to be a voice for families struggling. That was what kept us going.
We were hopeful that we would bring awareness to PPD, but we were amazed by how far it spread. We were/are tremendously grateful for the support.
We swam between 48 and 51 miles just under 32 hours. If we would have had the right water conditions, we would have completed the swim. Many people don’t realize the power and magnitude of Lake Michigan. In many ways it compares to the ocean; the biggest difference is that the lake is fresh water and free of ocean creatures. But the lake can be more dangerous because of the weather conditions, swells, water temperatures and currents. We knew physically we were prepared, but unfortunately, at the end (when we could see land) the weather did not cooperate. After many miles behind us we came face-to-face with a 9mph current at the point of Big Sable Lighthouse (our landing site). We were only able to travel less than 1mph so it was like being on a treadmill. Even though we were still swimming miles, we were not making forward motion and we were left with 11 miles off shore, but would have been more like 15+ miles due to the conditions.
Yes, we were overwhelmed by the amount of people that reached out or followed our journey. We were most humbled by the stories of moms and dads who reached out for help after hearing our story and felt safe to do so.
Yes. Of course we wanted to finish the swim because that is what we set out to do, but we realize it is truly more about the journey and the awareness that we raised. Many people have said that the way it ended is much more powerful and have made many parallels to the struggle with PPD. We couldn’t have even started this journey without the support we received. We are not sure what will come next, but we hope people will continue to follow us and reach out with their own stories of getting through the blue.
We do not know the totals yet, but will be working on this over the next few weeks. We are hopeful people will continue to donate.
To that end, if you’d like to donate to Through the Blue, visit their website here and click the donate button at the top of the page. Postpartum Progress is pleased to be one of the recipients of their funding.