postpartum depression storiesApproximately 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression after having a baby. Many more may experience depression during pregnancy, postpartum anxiety, OCD, and more. Postpartum depression is in fact the most common pregnancy-related complication, more widespread than gestational diabetes, preterm labor, or pre-eclampsia. Yet confusion and misinformation about postpartum depression and anxiety are still widespread. Myths surrounding mothers’ mental health challenges can have devastating effects on women’s well-being as well as their identities as mothers, too often leading to shame and inadequate treatment. Although postpartum and antenatal depression and anxiety are temporary when treated, untreated mood disorders can lead to long-term consequences for both a mother and her child. A mother can feel very alone, ashamed, and hopeless. And keep silent.

Mothering Through the Darkness: Stories of Postpartum Struggles will be a unique anthology with the goal of breaking that silence. With this collection of essays, the HerStories Project will try to dispel these myths and focus on the diversity of women’s experiences through the voices of mothers themselves. Mothering Through the Darkness will be the third book published by HerStories, which has already published The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain & Power of Female Friendship and My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing & Leaving Friends (to be released on September 15th).

The HerStories Project is thrilled to be partnering with and supporting Postpartum Progress with Mothering Through the Darkness. Ten percent of the profits from the sales of the book will go toward the nonprofit organization’s mission of supporting maternal mental health.

For this anthology they now have opened submissions and are seeking unpublished, first-person essays from mothers about their experiences with postpartum depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles during or after pregnancy. They’re looking for well-crafted, true accounts that explore and examine aspects of this experience. Submissions must feature a strong and compelling narrative. They’re looking for well-written prose, rich detail, and a strong, distinctive voice.

Essays submitted for the book and the HerStories Writing Contest (learn more about the contest below) will be judged by the editors of the HerStories Project, as well as several talented writers listed below whose lives as mothers or as clinicians have been affected by postpartum depression and anxiety. Essays will be judged on their emotional power, originality, and quality of their prose.


Previously unpublished and between 1,500 and 3,000 words. Please also submit a short bio of 50-100 words, including whether you’ve appeared in other publications.


December 1, 2014

The Writing Contest

Your submission to Mothering Through the Darkness can be, if you choose, simultaneously entered into the first HerStories Project Writing Contest. The HerStories Project will award $500 to one submission for Best Essay and $100 to two runners-up. All three essays will be published in the book, and each winner will receive a paperback copy.

To cover the costs of sponsoring the contest, they are asking for a $10 reading fee with your submission. If this fee presents a financial hardship in any way that would otherwise prevent you from submitting an essay, they will waive this fee and this will not affect the status of your entry. Again, you do not need to enter the Writing Contest to submit to the Mothering Through the Darkness book.

Writing Contest Judges

Katrina Alcorn is the author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink. She is a writer and a design consultant. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and documentary filmmaking from UC Berkeley and blogs at

Lisa Belkin is the Senior National Correspondent for Yahoo News. Previously she has held staff positions at the New York Times and The Huffington Post. She is the author of three books, including Life’s Work: Confessions of An Unbalanced Mom, and the editor of two anthologies.

Julia Fierro is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she recently published her first novel, Cutting Teeth, an Oprah Pick of the Week.

Kate Hopper is the author of Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood and Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. Kate holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and a Sustainable Arts Grant. She teaches classes and holds retreats for mother writers.

Lindsey Mead is a corporate headhunter with an MBA from Harvard who also writes for her popular blog, A Design So Vast. Her work has been featured in numerous anthologies

Jessica Zucker, PhD is a psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health. A consultant to PBS’ This Emotional Life and the Every Mother Counts campaign with Christy Turlington, she has been a contributor to NPR and is currently writing her first book for Routledge on maternal attachment

How To Submit

Click here to submit your essay for consideration. For more information, visit the HerStories Project website.


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