Climbing Out and Supporting Others

Climbing Out and Supporting Others

amanda davisby amanda davis (theta Upsilon, University of South Carolina)

This fall, Amanda Davis co-hosted the first Climb Out of the Darkness walk in the Midlands region of South Carolina. Motivated by her own experiences with perinatal mental health, Amanda brought together families, survivors and providers to raise awareness and funds for Postpartum Support International. She shares about the event and her passion for perinatal care in this blog.

Climb Out of the Darkness is the world's largest event raising awareness and funds for perinatal mental health concerns. The funds raised go directly toward Postpartum Support International and its state chapters to provide services that support perinatal mental health. Although South Carolina has held several Climbs throughout the state, this was the first time the event was held in the Midlands.

I experienced PTSD and postpartum anxiety after my first child was born due to premature birth and a NICU stay. This also led to peripartum anxiety during my second pregnancy. I experienced another traumatic birth with my second child. At four months postpartum, my physical and mental wellness spiraled downward, and I went through a six-month battle with postpartum anxiety and depression. My body lost its ability to sleep, and sleep deprivation became a chronic thing for me. It took seeing 11 different doctors and trying 21 different medications to help me find the right kind of treatment to feel well again. It was a terrifying time in my life. I never want another mom to have to fight that hard to receive the treatment they deserve in order to feel well while raising their child.

Learning I was not alone in what I was experiencing made all the difference in the world. 1 in 5-7 moms and 1 in 10 dads will experience a perinatal mood and/or anxiety disorder (PMAD). PMADs do not discriminate. Ensure you are getting rest, sleep, exercise/movement, nutrition, and have some sort of support. It's OK if you need extra help to feel yourself again. Support, therapy and medication are all great ways to help you be well again. You aren't alone.

Amanda (right) and her event co-host being interviewed at the ClimbAmanda (right) and her event co-host being interviewed at the ClimbI learned of Postpartum Support International from a colleague and friend, Brooke Wymer Ellis. We had both experienced perinatal mental health concerns and found a 2022 Climb event to attend in Charleston, SC. It was such a great experience for us. We looked into what it takes to hold a Climb Out of the Darkness and discovered anyone can hold this event in their local area. Together, we volunteered to be Climb leaders for the Midlands. The Climb Out of the Darkness office helped with training, guidance and onboarding as a whole.

Our Climb could have been as simple as five friends walking in our neighborhood, if we had preferred. But we knew we wanted this to make an impact on our community. This meant contacting as many providers as possible; using marketing strategies to reach participants; and staying in constant communication with sponsors, exhibitors, and each other for planning purposes. I learned you cannot do everything on your own, support is key, communication and quick responses help move things along more quickly, and most importantly, Columbia, SC wanted and needed this kind of event.

Participants preparing for the walkParticipants preparing for the walkWe held the event at Gibson Pond Park in Lexington, SC on October 7, 2023. We had approximately 108 attendees and raised over $11,000, and we had 23 monetary sponsors, 23 in-kind sponsors and 14 exhibitors. I never thought I could make an event like this happen, but with determination, it turned out to be a success.

All sorts of emotions came up for me! Part of me worried, "What if no one shows up?" or "What if no one cares?," but I truly felt joy, healing and hope throughout the event. Joy because I felt this event was important for our participants. Healing for myself as well as others in our community, even individuals who weren't able to make it there with us. And hope that the Midlands can be a place of mental wellness for families.

Sometimes just knowing there are people out there who care can make a difference. I have never felt more supported by other women than when I became a mother. When you find the right village, you have each other to lean on to say, "Yeah it's hard", or "I've been there,” or "Have you tried this?" Sometimes you need validation that it's OK to not love every part of motherhood. You can dislike middle-of-the-night wakings or blow-outs or medical worries and still love your children at the same time. I truly feel I found hope for wellness again after another mom told me she understood how I was feeling, and I could see she had made it to the other side.

Affirmation cards at the ClimbAffirmation cards at the ClimbMotherhood isn't something that can be done all alone. We need our village, our people, our support. Our wellness matters. We can get there with the help of each other. Alpha Chi has continued to be woven through my journey since college, but my sisterhood has shone throughout my postpartum journey. I have had moms reach out to me to offer support as well as receive support as I share my experiences, and I do the same with them. I'm so proud to say Alpha Chi is absolutely a part of my village.

Amanda is the director of maternal wellness with Impact Clinical Consulting LLC. She has a husband, Chase, and two little girls, Millie Jane and Adeline, and says, “My daughters are the reasons I will continue to fight for the perinatal community’s wellness.” Learn more about Climbs, support and opportunities for involvement at