When I realized there weren't any therapists trained in perinatal mental illness in the Fredericksburg area, I got very discouraged. People pointed me to a couple of support groups, but they weren't what I needed at the time. The closest therapist with perinatal mental illness experience in any direction was an hour away. (Sans traffic. Don't get me started on the traffic.)
Since realizing I would have to commute to get the help I needed after L was born, I have wanted to see more resources for mothers struggling with perinatal mental illnesses in Fredericksburg. I have been wanting to make a difference, but unable to think of how.
Then I learned I could screen Dark Side of the Full Moon as part of my Climb Out of the Darkness fundraiser. My chance to help people realize handing a mom a prescription for an antidepressant and sending her on her way until next year is half the solution. Telling a mom you don’t have resources to help her find therapists or support groups just plain unacceptable.
So, over the spring, I planted seeds.
These seeds were flyers, emails, and letters to doctors, nurses, therapists, doulas, college professors, and birth educators, letting them know about my screening of Dark Side of the Full Moon and Fredericksburg’s first Climb Out of the Darkness event. I contacted over 300 people by the time the screening took place. I posted flyers in as many Starbucks’ as I could and wherever else I could find a community board.
I told myself not to get my hopes up of these seeds sprouting this year. Seeds take time to grow. I figured, even if the events were total flops, at least I lay some groundwork for next year. The more I raise awareness, then hopefully the more I’ll succeed down the road.
With the help of the producers of Dark Side of the Full Moon and ticket holders, the screening went live. We even had a couple of sales within an hour of our start time!
Nurses, doulas, moms, husbands, aunts, cousins, childbirth educators, local business members who work with children, and members of Postpartum Support Virginia came for the June 9 screening.
We watched. We nodded. We gasped. We cried. And, thanks to the help of Adrienne Griffin, founder of Postpartum Support Virginia, we discussed.
Little by little, I’m learning of the impact Dark Side of the Full Moon has had on the people who watched it with me:
One of the doulas of Connected Birth felt compelled to share her story after watching the film. Connected Birth has teamed up with Lean on Me Birth Services to create a support group for pregnant and new moms that will start July 9 in Stafford. The fact it will be open to pregnant moms fills me with so much joy. Perinatal mental illness during pregnancy isn’t discussed nearly as much as the postpartum period. It CAN happen during pregnancy and to have a group that pregnant moms can go to for support is huge. More information about the Perinatal Mood Disorders Support Group can be found here.
After hearing my story and reasons for wanting to screen Dark Side of the Full Moon, Postpartum Support Virginia wants to come back to Fredericksburg this fall to host a training seminar for medical professionals and therapists, and potential volunteers and advocates.
My former Bradley instructor has been able to pass on the information received at the screening to help her students.
And finally, one guest sent me a message a few nights after the screening to let me know she realizes now that what she has been feeling is normal. Now she can be a better advocate for herself in her next pregnancy and has resources to help her friends as well.
Happy tears, y'all!
My seeds might grow into something beautiful after all.
Postpartum Support Virginia is a great resource to find support groups and therapists with maternal mental illness training. I've found that seeing someone who has experience working with pregnant and postpartum mothers has made a big difference in my treatment, progress and understanding of my postpartum anxiety this time around. They may not have a local list of support groups or therapists (yet!), but if you're willing to commute, you should be able to find someone in Charlottesville, NOVA, or Richmond.
Postpartum Progress' blog is the #1 website I refer my friends to. I've started giving it to my pregnant friends who seem blissfully happy -- because I don't want to find out they've suffered and didn't know where to go for help. Postpartum Progress has a number of programs to help fight the stigmas associated with maternal mental illnesses, support moms, and provide resources to the healthcare and social support community.
The Perinatal Mood Disorders Support Group will hold its first meeting on Thursday, July 9 at 6:30pm and will continue to meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month. Meetings will be held at the Life Wellness Center next to Wendy's (147 Garrison Road, Stafford, VA 22554). For more information please call 540-384-0835.