Climb Out of the Darkness is a global event held on or near the longest day of the year annually to help shine the most light on maternal mood disorders like postpartum depression and anxiety. On the day of the event, local organizers gather supporters to climb mountains and hike trails, which is symbolic of the rise out of the darkness of maternal mental illness into the light of hope and recovery. This year, both Peoria and Bloomington-Normal are hosting events. We spent some time talking to Cat Brown, the organizer of Peoria’s event, about this year’s climb: 

Heartland Doulas: Why did you choose to get involved in Climb Out of the Darkness and host an event in Peoria this year?

Cat Brown: I am personally on my own journey through PPD/PPA, as well as dealing with my lifelong diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I came across this organization, Postpartum Progress, and it really helped to shine a light on the reality of these disorders. The event, Climb Out of the Darkness, is a very real, physical way to mark the journey. We have so many wonderful resources in Peoria for pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting, and this felt like a great way to take all of that a step further and provide even more support for moms and their families.

HD: People often believe there is a stigma surrounding mental illness, so it isn’t talked about. We are grateful to you and others who are willing to share their stories so that others may know that they are not alone. What is one thing you would like to tell a person who feels like they may have postpartum depression?

CB: Help is out there. As hard as it feels in the moment to reach for that help, it is there. Talk to anyone you can about it, whether that be an OB or midwife, a friend, a doula. Just talk about it, as that is the first step to finding the right help for you, whether it be counseling, therapy, essential oils, supplements, a support group, meds, etc. Help is out there.

HD: We love that bit about the help. As postpartum doulas, we see how important it is for our clients to receive help. No one has to go through this alone. We’re so glad you are spreading the word through this event! Speaking of, how can people participate in the event?

CB: We will be hosting our family-friendly hike on Saturday, June 18th at Detweiller Park at 11am. You can view the Facebook page for the Peoria event to see more details. We hope that everyone reading this will visit their local crowdrise page (find Peoria’s here) and register for their local Climb! Even if you can’t physically attend, when you register and share it helps raise funds and spread awareness. You never know whose life you’ll touch just by sharing information surrounding postpartum disorders and maternal mental illness.

HD: It’s so awesome that you are hosting this in Peoria. We have amazing readers who will share the event far and wide and help get the word out.

CB: The more we talk about postpartum depression and anxiety, the more moms are going to reach out for help with their struggles. This is something that no one should have to go through alone.

HD: You mentioned raising funds. Can you tell us more about that?

CB: Yes! You can donate to the cause at our crowdrise page. The money goes to Postpartum Progress, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy, childbirth and new motherhood. 

HD: Sometimes people assume that postpartum depression simply means being sad right after you have a baby, and the first step toward getting help might be reading the Postpartum Progress site and finding out that there is more than just depression to maternal mood disorders, which can even happen during pregnancy and reach far beyond the early postpartum period. We are so glad that your event is helping to raise funds that keep this site going. What is one last thought that you would leave us with?

CB: 1 in 7 pregnant & new moms will have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. There is no reason that even one of us has to go through this alone!

HD: Thank you so much for sharing this information with us. We wish you all the best success in your event!

Central IL Climb Out of the Darkness Events:

Peoria‘s Crowdrise Page
Peoria’s Facebook Page

Bloomington’s Crowdrise Page
Bloomington’s Facebook Page



About Kate Herzel

Kate Herzel is the co-owner of Heartland Doulas alongside Stacy Ash, and together with their combined 20 years of experience and 7 doulas, they help people have really amazing birth and postpartum experiences. In her spare time, Kate enjoys cooking with her kids, brewing beer with her husband, and entertaining for her friends.