This weekend I will be attending the first ever Warrior Mom Conference hosted by Postpartum Progress. I am both exhillarated and terrified about what these two days will bring.
Katherine Stone has created an unparalleled community of support that is bringing awareness and education to postpartum mood disorders (depression, anxiety, psychosis).
It was this exact community that helped me to recognize what postpartum anxiety looked like (me!) as I struggled with it after the birth of my daughter. For me, all of the support I have received from this community has been via my computer. I would sit and scour that website for hours, then click over to their facebook page and do the same thing all over again. This will be the first time I come face to face with rooms full of other Warrior Moms. This will be the first time many of us meet in person.
I have read (and re-read) the agenda for the conference. Started to think about what I will need to pack. I've mapped my walk from the train station to the hotel I am staying at. Then mapped the walk from the hotel to the center where the conference is being held. I've started putting together all of the practical pieces. What I haven't done much of is allow myself to think about all of the emotions that will be flowing through me as I am surrounded by such a large group of other women that can identify with some of my exact feelings. Some of those feelings have passed, been processed and worked through. But there are still so many that are with me on a daily basis. And my gut is telling me that for these two days, there won't be much hiding from them or compartmentalizing.
It's ironic to me that, as a doula, I spend so much time telling mothers and families to reach out and connect. Yet it's that exact thing that was the absolute hardest for me to do when my anxiety was at it's worst. I am constantly telling my clients "You're not alone", but I never felt so alone in my life as I did then. So for me to think about being in a room with so many other women that can understand that - well it feels like it's going to be awesome and completely overwhelming all at the same time.
I know I am going to leave this experience having learned more than I can imagine right now. I also know I am going to need time to process all of the messy emotional parts before I can come back here and share all of the ups and downs I will undoubtedly feel. I'm packing a small journal to keep with me during the days and the conference has built in "self care workshops" (I told you this organization is brilliant!). In the meantime, please share the Postpartum Progress website and Facebook page. You truly never know how far your reach might go or if someone you care about is struggling. Awareness and education are vital pieces in continuing to help support mothers and their families.