At the end of April I helped to organize and participated in a retreat aimed to provide support, community and respite for mothers currently experiencing or with a history of postpartum depression and/or anxiety. The weekend-long event was put on by Madison Area Parent Support, a fabulous group which I’m lucky to be a part of, and was the first of what we hope will be an annual retreat. The mission of MAPS is to provide support and services for parents (both moms and dads) in the Madison Area who are suffering from a perinatal mood disorder or who perhaps just need a little bit of extra support in their parenting journey.
While proper recognition and treatment of postpartum depression, anxiety and other related disorders continues to improve, frank discussions and nuanced understandings of maternal mental health are still not as widespread and taboo-free as they should be. And because I am passionate about helping to change this undeniable fact, I co-created an activity for this year’s retreat participants called “Portraits of Strength.” Lynn Peyton, LCSW and I worked together to design an activity that would allow the amazing women attending the retreat to reflect on their own strengths and to recognize and appreciate the things that make them uniquely beautiful human beings, in addition to wonderful mothers. The activity consisted of a guided meditation and reflection designed by Lynn, followed by a set of formal portraits taken by me. Each set of photos I took told a beautifully human story showcasing the love, pain, strength, grief, determination and perseverance that are part and parcel of the experience of perinatal depression and/or anxiety. Without further comment, here is one set of those photos. I hope you too can both see and feel her beauty, love and strength.