The Power of Peer Support - Guest Blog by Amber Weakley of Postpartum Support Charleston
"Postpartum Support Charleston saved my life."
"It isn’t talked about enough. The shame and guilt associated with it is debilitating. And the numbers of women affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders is rising."
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Postpartum depression. Maternal mental illnesses. Whatever you want to call it, mothers are struggling.
Postpartum Support Charleston is here to help.
They were vital in my personal postpartum experience. I am evidence that peer support is crucial to recovery.
Throwback to 7 years ago when I was debilitated by postpartum depression after my first son was born. It hit me like a brick wall. I was sad, crying all the time, wasn’t able to keep up with the housework, and couldn’t find joy in my own precious baby.
I knew I needed to reach out to Postpartum Support Charleston.
It was the hardest step in this whole journey - asking for help. But I will never forget that phone call from the volunteer, reassuring me that things were going to be okay, and that I wasn’t alone in these emotions.
That was life changing.
Just knowing that someone was there who cared about what I was going through. That support from my peer, a fellow mother, was so powerful.
I eventually had my second son, and after experiencing similar symptoms that escalated into intrusive thoughts, I connected with Postpartum Support Charleston again. I started attending their walking support groups around Charleston.
"Imagine being in this dark place and feeling like the only mother who could ever have these terrible feelings."
Then imagine speaking to someone who has experienced this, too. It’s a healing light that illuminates your mind. It’s knowledge that you are not alone.
The scientific evidence reiterates the fact that peer support is shown to dramatically improve your mental health. It improves communication skills that you have with other people in your life, and increases the social support network that is so crucial for new mothers.
Postpartum Support Charleston currently offers multiple options for peer support.
"All of these aspects of motherhood are tough, but Postpartum Support Charleston is here to remind you that you are worthy, and you are worth love and support."
First off, they have a Mom Mentor program that allows volunteers who have experienced maternal mental illnesses in the past to connect one-on-one with new and expecting mothers. Wonderful bonds are made between these mothers and their Mentors.
They also host a closed Facebook group, just for mothers with mental health concerns. This is a judgement free group that mothers are welcome to post questions and comments about motherhood and receive motivational reminders daily.
Support groups are held 3 days a week with Postpartum Support Charleston.
-Sundays at 3pm - Virtual Group
-Thursdays at 9:30 am - Walking Group in North Charleston
-Fridays at 11 am - In-Person Support Group on James Island
While they have you covered with peer support, they also want to make sure that mothers are receiving the best professional counseling that Charleston can offer. They offer a list of clinical counselors and psychiatrists in the area who specialize or are certified in perinatal mental health.
Seeing a therapist who knows what maternal mental illnesses are and is certified to treat these illnesses can be crucial for the recovery of a mother. Please visit their website www.ppsdupport.org or email them at email@example.com for assistance in finding a mental health professional.
Postpartum Support Charleston saved my life.
I built bonds with other mothers who knew what I was going through.
I built courage and love for myself to know that I was the best mother for my baby.
I built the strength to develop a self-care practice that can still bring me through rough days.
All of these aspects of motherhood are tough, but Postpartum Support Charleston is here to remind you that you are worthy, and you are worth love and support.
- Amber Weakley is the Outreach Coordinator for Post Partum Support Charleston, and shares with us the many struggles of PMAD, and the impactful work that PPD Charleston offers to women.