In preparing to write this post honoring my friend and activist/entrepreneur, Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress, I searched my gmail, which has also archived my old hotmail account, to see when we first found each other. I dug up an email from Katherine dated April 15, 2009, which would've been a few weeks after my daughter's fifth birthday and about a year after I started getting help and taking medication for my anxiety disorder. Katherine wrote:
This Mother's Day - Sunday, May 10 -- Postpartum Progress will host its first annual Mother's Day Rally for Moms' Mental Health. Each hour, on the hour, for 24 hours straight I will post a different "Letter to New Moms" written by survivors of and experts on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
That email signified just one of Katherine's countless efforts to make moms suffering from mental illness feel more normal. I did write that post, and Katherine and I have written for one another on the subject of maternal mental health again and again, knowing we can prop each other and even strangers up over the miles with our voices.
The first time I remember clearly having a long conversation with Katherine in person was at Type A Mom in 2010. She was a little intimidating with her long, red hair and tall, lanky self and these totally adorable sparkly heels, which she later said her kids bought her. The kids and the shoes stuck, because it's important to remember even people who present as physically beautiful and loomingly tall and effortlessly stylish are people with insecurities and doubts. It's easy to meet people at blogging conferences and think they are perfect, but nobody is perfect, and everyone has her struggles. Katherine embodies that dichotomy for me.
Here is this person who looks completely pulled together but who is so willing to share her pain in order to make the rest of us sitting around in our yoga pants and flipflops feel human again. For that, Katherine, I salute you.
Last year, while covering the Olympics at BlogHer, I had to come up with a group of bloggers who fought for their dreams, and the very first person I thought of was Katherine, who said:
I always felt I needed to do something meaningful with my life but continually struggled to figure out what it was. Then I was struck with postpartum depression and I had this gut reaction – the kind that nags at you that you can only ignore for so long until you must act – that I needed to help other women. It's hard to imagine something so awful could lead you to your avocation, but it pushed me toward focusing my life on being a voice for suffering pregnant and new mothers.
It's been my great pleasure and honor to watch Katherine over the years blossom and grow and fight to become the owner of the most widely-read blog on PPD in the world. Thank you, Katherine, for all that you do. You are amazing. Congratulations on ten years at Postpartum Progress.