Saturday, June 21, 2014

Go, Me!

This morning I went on a hike as part of the Climb Out of Darkness fundraiser organized by Postpartum Progress. I hiked to celebrate my recovery from postpartum depression; I hiked to raise awareness about PPD; I hiked to help erase the stigma that haunts so many women who suffer from PPD; and I hiked to raise money to support Postpartum Progress.

I was not very aggressive in my fundraising efforts (just a few posts on Facebook) but I raised $375 - woot woot! Next year, I am going to hike again, and fair warning: I'm going to be a bit more obnoxious and post about it here, Facebook, instagram and send emails and maybe even some good old-fashioned letters seeking donations.

I learned about the hike when I was searching for organizations that help women with postpartum depression. Bad news: there are very few such organizations. As someone else mentioned on Facebook, it is easier to find grief counseling for the loss of a pet than it is to find help for the most common pregnancy complication. 

I had so much trouble finding PPD organizations that I strongly considered started a non-profit myself.  I still might! I am very impressed with Postpartum Progress, but if we are going to destroy the stigma of PPD, and help the women who need help, there need to be a lot more organizations out there. I am writing my memoir about having PPD to help raise awareness, BUT I WANT TO DO MORE. I have so many ideas percolating in my head, I sometimes have to dance to burn off the energy. (Pippa loves when mama dances like a crazy lady.)

Anyway, the hike. Women hiked in teams or they hiked alone. I hiked alone because I could not find a local team. Next year, damnit, I am spear heading Team Pasadena! (Or if someone else wants to do that, I will be their loyal sidekick and slice oranges for my fellow hikers.)

I hiked to the waterfall in Eaton Canyon Natural Area in Altadena. Nathan and I have done this hike before, so I knew it was safe and doable. Most importantly, the trail is busy with families and couples but not overcrowded. This meant I could enjoy nature and listen to birds, but I did not feel like I was in any danger of being raped by a hiking psychopath. (It's L.A. County - you have to be smart. Women have been attacked recently in Griffith Park.)

I thought a lot about my recovery from postpartum depression as I hiked. The hike truly was symbolic of my journey through the hell of depression:
  • I hiked up and down. Some parts of the trail were easy and other parts made my thighs burn. My recovery sometimes felt very easy and other days, it was incredibly different.
  • The trail crossed rocky stream beds, and it was sometimes unclear which way I should go. My recovery from PPD was also not straightforward and I did not always know what was the best thing to do. But I managed to reach the waterfall, and I recovered from PPD as well.
  • There were other people ahead of me on the trail who I could sometimes glimpse and hear. Although I did not realize it when I was plunged into the darkness of depression, hundreds and thousands of other mamas were plodding along ahead of me. I was never alone.
  • The trail sometimes split in two, and there were multiple ways to pass around a boulder or tree. There are multiple ways to kick PPD in the ass. 
  • I drank plenty of water and wore sunblock and hiking shoes. I was not going to be a martyr and get a sunburn for the sake of hiking to a waterfall! The same goes for mamas - don't be a martyr because that is what society suspects. You have to take care of yourself and enjoy the journey.
  • I made it to the waterfall! And I kicked PPD in the ass!
  • On the way back to my car, I hiked past many fellow hikers. Some were friendly, some were not. Some people know how support a loved one who is suffering from PPD. Some do not. (And that is okay. PPD is so stigmatized and misunderstood, our loved ones do not always know how to react and be supportive.)
  • Some hikers asked me how to reach the waterfall and I pointed the way. I am now trying to find ways to support mamas who are currently suffering from PPD. I recently emailed with a new mom - a total stranger - about the medication I've been taking. I hope I helped her at least a little!
I could spend all day writing about the hike and all the things it made me think about. It was so wonderful. I felt so excited as I waved goodbye to Nathan and Pippa this morning, so exhilarated as I set forth to the waterfall, and then so happy to get home and hug my baby and husband. Thank you Postpartum Progress for organizing such an inspiring event!