NEWARK – Several weeks ago, Christina Boeshart had an image of a Warrior Mom tattooed on her wrist.
A symbol of postpartum depression awareness, the tattoo shows a mother holding her baby and protecting it with a shield.
Boeshart got the tattoo to symbolize her personal journey with postpartum depression — and she’s hoping it inspires people to ask questions.
It isn’t always easy for the mother of two to talk about her experiences, but she’s hoping she can help other women in need.
“I was afraid of the stigma and it took me so long to accept my diagnosis,” Boeshart said. “I want to make that time shorter for someone else.”
Boeshart and Caitlin Estep, another local mom, are co-facilitators for Mothers Offering Mothers Support, a support group affectionately known as MOMS that helps women who’ve experienced a postpartum illness.
They are organizing the first Licking County Climb Out of the Darkness walk at 10 a.m. June 20 at Infirmary Mound Park. The event is open to women and their families from all over central Ohio.
“It’s for anybody who has been impacted by it,” Estep said. “If you have a sister or a mom or an aunt or just want to show support.”
The organization Postpartum Progress estimates that about one in seven moms experience some type of perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. That can include postpartum anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression, which typically includes symptoms of sadness, anxiety and withdrawal.
If these symptoms last longer than two weeks and affect a woman’s ability to care for herself and her children, it’s time to seek help, Boeshart said.
She began experiencing symptoms several years ago, after the birth of her second child.
She connected with Estep, who had started MOMS in 2013. The two women decided to revitalize the support group and held their first meeting at the end of March.
Since then, the group has increased its membership and expanded its following on Facebook.
When she found out the closest Climb Out of the Darkness events were in Pennsylvania and Cincinnati, Boeshart decided to organize one in Licking County.
The event will involve a short, uplifting ceremony followed by a short walk at Infirmary Mound.
“They’ll become a group of warrior moms,” Boeshart said. “The event itself is focused on raising awareness and building community.”
So far, the Newark team has 22 members and has surpassed its $500 fundraising goal. Boeshart is hoping they can raise $2,000 and attract even more participants.
All the money raised will go to Postpartum Progress, which works to raise awareness about postpartum depression and help moms get the information they need.
Boeshart, who plans to attend a Warrior Mom conference in July, said she’s hoping to make the walk an annual event.
“There was a time when I didn’t want to be here. To get past that and know I struggled for a reason is really important,” she said. ” I also do this for my daughter. There is a strong genetic link to postpartum depression. I hope if she faces it in the future, she will seek help quickly and know I am a source of support for her.”
Their biggest goal is to help women realize they are not alone, Estep said
“We are able to come forward and say we have this horrible (illness),” she said. “That will hopefully help other moms feel comfortable talking about it. The sooner you can get help, the shorter the recovery time.”
IF YOU GO
What: Climb Out of the Darkness Walk
When: 10 a.m. to noon June 20
Where: Shelter Four in Infirmary Mound Park, 4351 Lancaster Road, Granville
Cost: Free and open to moms and their children. Donations will be given to Postpartum Progress.
More info: Contact Christina Boeshart at 740-281-3878, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to crowdrise.com/christinaboeshart-cotd2015.
Mothers Offering Mothers Support meets the second and last Wednesdays of every month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the downtown branch of the Licking County Library, 101 W. Main St., Newark. For more information go to facebook.com.mothersofferingsupport.
For more information on postpartum depression, go to postpartumprogress.org.