If you have had any contact with me in the last 3 months, it’s quite likely (almost certain) that you have heard me mention “Climb Out of the Darkness” a fundraising event for Postpartum Progress. I’ve talked about it on the news, have been interviewed for an article in the Commercial Appeal (the local Memphis paper) and have even written a bit about it for Memphis Parent Magazine.
I might not have talked to you about why I’m doing this though. I have many reasons, honestly, and I would be remiss if I ignored my own struggle with anxiety after I quit nursing my son (Yep, it can happen then too). However, in the interest of brevity, I’ll give you my TOP 3.
1) One in Seven
According to Postpartum Progress, one in seven pregnant or new moms will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD), approximately 15%. If we run the numbers in Shelby County just based on the number of babies born (in 2011 that was 13,993) then we can assume at least 2,098 women suffered symptoms of one of these disorders. Now, that’s assuming that each of those births were singletons, so it’s perhaps less than 2,098. BUT, we have to consider that in Shelby County, 30% of all children are living in poverty (higher than the national average of 21.9 percent). Let’s adjust our assumptions a bit to reflect that the number of women who deal with symptoms of a PMAD bumps up to 25% when you factor in poverty level.
That being said, we have to assume that more than 2,098 women are dealing with a PMAD each year in Shelby County. We have to assume that, because we are not calculating for any pregnancy losses, miscarriages, abortions, or stillborn births. Let’s just throw out a number-2,400, is a nice round number. The Orpheum Theater seats 2400. There are enough women struggling with a PMAD in Shelby County right now, to fill (or almost fill) the Orpheum Theater.
Climb Out of the Darkness is showing the community that there are women in this city (and all over the world) that are struggling.
2) Limited Resources
Okay, so approximately 2,400 women in Shelby County are struggling with a PMAD each year. Want to take a guess on how many support groups there are for these mamas? 5? 20? Nope and nope. Try as I might, and believe me, I’ve tried and tried, I can locate exactly zero groups currently meeting that offer support for PMADs.
But wait, aren’t there like 10 different new moms groups in town? Yes. There are, and I love that. All new moms need support and I’m thrilled there are options for them. Humor me for just a minute and I’ll tell you what the issue is with this. When a mom struggling with a PMAD goes to a group of moms not struggling with a PMAD, she is not getting any help for her symptoms.
- What is more likely happening is that she is thinking something like this:
- “Wow, these women are all so healthy and they all love their babies SO much. What is wrong with me?”. Or, perhaps she’ll think…
- “I could never tell any of these women how I really feel because they’ll think I’m crazy. Or they’ll call DCS and take my baby.” Or, even worse…
- “I am the worst mother on the face of the earth because these women are all so much better than I am. They are all perfect and amazing and I should just go home and die. My baby will be better off”.
Climb Out of the Darkness is raising awareness about the importance of a supportive community.
3) Calling all Warrior Moms!
PMADs are completely treatable. Repeat, having a PMAD does not mean that you will always feel this wretched. There is help. There is hope. You are not alone. Without treatment the symptoms can and usually do persist.
Finding treatment is difficult, see above about the support groups and then just for fun go Google “Memphis” and “Postpartum Depression”. We’re working on that, really.
Asking for help is difficult. It’s scary. It’s sad. But, knowing that there are other Warrior Moms, in the community that have been where you are, who have walked (or maybe crawled) the same gnarly path , makes it less scary. Climb Out of the Darkness exists to introduce you to your tribe of Warrior Moms and to assist you in finding the help you need so you can get better.
Climb Out of the Darkness is a chance to look at the faces of other moms who know about your storm and who want you to get better.
You should get in on this. New climbers are registering to climb with us on 6/21 through the Old Forest at Overton Park, every week. You don’t have to have had a PMAD to climb with us. All you need is love y’all. It’s totally free to register but, if you don’t want to join us to climb, that’s cool, then you can donate to the cause. Every dollar raised goes directly to the operation expenses of Postpartum Progress to help raise awareness and educate the public about PMADs.