The Climb

On Saturday, June 21st, advocates around the world joined together to raise awareness of perinatal mood disorders during the 2nd Annual Climb Out of the Darkness.  Before I leap into the story of our climb with Team DFW a bit about the event from the Postpartum Progress website:

“Climb Out of the Darkness™ is the world’s largest event raising awareness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety/OCD, postpartum PTSD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression. The event was created by and benefits Postpartum Progress Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit that raises awareness and supports pregnant and new moms with these illnesses. Women around the world participate in this grassroots event by going on a hike outside on the longest day of the year to shine a light on maternal mental illness. Climb Out of the Darkness is open to anyone and everyone who supports a healthy start for new families.”

The morning of the climb started much like any other morning when I’ve got somewhere to be:  Thing 2 up at you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me a.m., Thing 1 stubbornly refusing to go anywhere or put on pants until his various and illogical demands were met, and me seriously considering letting the whole damn family go without pants if it would just give us some forward momentum.  Then I realized I’d forgotten to get gas the night before and was at 1/4 tank.  My plans for a healthy, wholesome breakfast and early arrival to prepare for my soul cleansing climb were replaced with donuts and coffee from the gas station and frequent panicked glances at the “ETA” on Google Maps.  Yep. Just a normal morning.  See how happy and unfazed I am? *Note:  No Xanax was involved in the making of this photo.*

By about 1/4 mile into the “short, easy” portion of our hike, and after hearing that our team leader was not feeling well and not planning to participate in the long portion, I began to tell myself there was no way I was going to make the full climb.  And then, as we walked and chatted and sang (I have a toddler and a preschooler-we have a song for everything), I realized I was enjoying myself.  The weight of the 4 year old on my back (thank you lillebaby for making that possible) didn’t seem so burdensome, and I noticed how peaceful the trail was.  Thing 2 had a moment…ok, a series of moments…when we thought she wasn’t going to last the whole hike and we’d have to turn around, but thankfully she just needed some munchies.  
Climbing is hard work, you know.  

As we walked, Thing 1 and I looked for trail markers, pointed out giant butterflies and interesting looking plants, and discussed the yellow crocodile cow hybrid (the Croco-Moo) that lived in the creek bed (the imagination of a 4 year old is a beautiful thing).  I realized that, on this symbolic climb out of the darkness, I had the luxury of knowing it was a finite journey and was able to really take notice of and enjoy what was happening around me.  The farther we went, the better I felt.  I was proud of myself and of my family for sticking it out, and I was definitely proud of my teammates for persisting despite their own challenges.
All three families on our team finished the entire climb, and I’m beyond proud of that.  We talked openly and without fear of judgement about our experiences with perinatal mood disorders.  We laughed.  We climbed.  (I rocked the carrier muffin top…)
And at the end, we made plans for next year because, even when you’ve climbed out and back into the world, you carry your battle scars with you.  And the best way to help others is to bravely display those scars to the world at large in the hope that a single person fighting their own personal battle sees your scars and knows that their wounds will not consume or destroy them.  That they can rise above the darkness and shame and thrive in the sun.  

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