It’s been just over a year since we published Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience, an essay collection written by 35 women sharing their experiences with postpartum and post-adoption depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Since its publication last November, the Singapore Committee for UN Women endorsed the book, and it was one of Foreword Review’s IndieFab Book of the Year Finalists. We still believe the essays in this collection have a powerful message to share. Journalist Lisa Belkin wrote of the anthology:
“Every one of these stories is about the descent into the depths, the belief that these mothers feel alone and at fault, and then their recovery. Each story has power on its own, but the essay collection as a whole really drives home to me how many women suffer, how similar their suffering is, and how it’s a tragedy that they think they are the only ones going through this and it is theirs alone to bear.”
Our incredible contributors continue to be powerful advocates for spreading their messages to their community: you are not alone, ask for help, you can get through it.
Recently, in my home state, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched an educational campaign to help women recognize the symptoms and get help. As part of Postpartum Support International, this organization shares resources for both mothers who are struggling as well as their family members and friends. It is a powerful campaign designed to spread awareness and make resources for seeking treatment more accessible to mothers.
This campaign reiterates the important message the contributors of Mothering Through the Darkness conveyed so powerfully:
For women with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, each day can be a struggle. Having a new baby is hard but we can help make it easier for you. You are not alone. You are not to blame. You can get help. http://www.postpartum.net/colorado #youarenotalone #Colorado #newmom #mentalhealth #PRD
One of the campaign’s most important messages is how to support a loved one experiencing postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders. They remind us:
Pregnant and new mothers need empathy and support from loved ones. They may find it hard to be honest about their feelings and accept help in the beginning. Be patient and be available.
- Encourage her to get help from a professional.
- Help her find a support group and local resources.
- Spend time listening without needing to offer solutions and advice.
- Look after the baby or older children, or discuss other childcare options so she can have a break.
- Take a simple action like cooking and cleaning without taking over these activities or expecting anything in return.
- Encourage her to take care of herself by eating, resting, walking and limiting alcohol use.
If you are suffering, please remember that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and help is available to you. If you have a loved one who needs help, please reach out. You can find more information on the campaign, including resources for families, here.
For providers and others (bloggers, advocates) who want to spread awareness and provide resources, please use this fantastic toolkit. We encourage you to spread this message on social media, so please take advantage of the materials here!
And to the brave and gifted writers who shared their words with us in Mothering Through the Darkness, one year later, we are still so grateful for your words, so moved by your stories, and so honored to have worked with you on this deeply important project. Thank you so much.
~Stephanie & Jessica
**You can order a copy of Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience here.
**We recently announced our brand new online writing course, which will begin November 28th. Using Our Words to Change Our World is for anyone—professional writer, blogger, or not— who wants an opportunity to process our emotions after a difficult election, to understand better how to have an empathetic dialogue with those who may not agree with us, to practice self-care, and to learn from some incredible guest instructors about how to more effectively write opinion pieces. Please join us for a unique self-paced course unlike any we have ever offered– it will undoubtedly be a powerful experience within a supportive community. You can find out details and sign up here.
**You can purchase our most recent essay collection, So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood, right here. Like Mothering Through The Darkness, it aims to make motherhood less isolating and to shed light on those less-than-perfect moments and real life parenting challenges.