From her brown eyes to the occasional purple streaks in her hair, everything about Lucy McEwen looks bright. She's the type of person who seem to always be smiling sweetly, expressing care for others and fiercely loving her two small children. But there's another side of Lucy that her friends also know as an incredibly brave survivor of postpartum depression and advocate for other moms fighting the same battle.
"After my daughter was born, I started struggling," said Lucy. "Every single time she cried, I would cry too. I sat on my bed in the middle of the night, nursing her, tears flowing along with the milk.
I had very little motivation to get up and go anywhere with her. I struggled to do basic household chores, much less feed or dress myself. I nursed her, changed her and we slept. I played with her, but I found it difficult at times to feel joy. I did the bare necessities and sometimes a little more. I had days when I could do everything and felt like super mom. Then I'd be back in the thick of it, deep in the darkness once more.
I struggled greatly with exhaustion, lack of motivation, feelings of sadness, anxiety and loneliness. I wanted to be with her all of the time, yet I felt stuck with her. I felt as though the world would be better off if I were not around."
Lucy is one of roughly one million women who struggle with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Postpartum depression, which can affect women within the first year of baby's life, is the most common complication of childbirth.
Although so many women are affected, only 15 percent ever seek treatment for their symptom, which inspires many like Lucy to tell others about their own experience to help fight the stigma and encourage women to seek treatment.
Lucy is a participant in Postpartum Progress' Climb Out of Darkness which is the world's largest event raising awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The organization plans the climb every year around the longest day of the year in an effort to "shine the light of hope" so that moms will receive better information and better support and their new families will get off to the strong start they deserve." Mothers walk, hike or climb alongside fellow moms who understand the struggle they face.
Participants of the climb also raise funds for Postpartum Progress, which is a fantastic resource that greatly helped moms like Lucy. Postpartum Progress uses the funds to distribute free educational materials, maintain an exceptional blog and private support forum, train peer support leaders and "advocate for better support, less stigma and increased services for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders", according to their website.
"Postpartum Progress was a great source of hope for me to see that this happened to many, many women who then went on to lead normal, happy lives," said Lucy. "I met so many amazing women who inspire and encourage me to work and fight harder than ever before to break the stigma and help moms all over the world get the help they so desperately need."
After enduring postpartum depression and armed with the knowledge she gained and support from friends and family, Lucy was proactive after her care when she was pregnant with her son. She formed a postpartum plan along with her birth plan which ensured she enjoyed her time with visitors, made time for herself, ate, took her medication and did everything she needed to take care of herself so she could take care of her toddler daughter and newborn son.
This post originally appeared on fortheloveofwineandcoffee.com
If you're pregnant, currently struggling or just interested in finding out more information about this issue, check out this awesome resource.
You can find a climb near you by clicking here.
You can donate to Postpartum Progress and support Lucy's climb team here.
Lucy has also recently become a postpartum doula! You can follow her on Facebook here.