Mega-model Chrissy Teigen recently penned a heartfelt essay for Glamour revealing her struggles with postpartum depression, with valuable wisdom gathered from her experience. Teigen’s tale is riddled with anxiety surrounding the stigma of depression, and fear of how her peers would handle it. And we absolutely applaud her bravery for sharing her story.
Teigan's willingness to shine a light on the reality of postpartum depression hit home for us in another way, too: In our popular series Birth Days, we chronicle the journey of parents during the first six weeks with a newborn (and all the ups and downs of that time!). The show attempts to document alllllll the tough realities, from mountains of dirty diapers to up-all-night exhaustion to, yes, postpartum depression. Parenting a newborn isn't easy, and it’s valuable for everyone to know what may happen right after.
Here's some key points Teigan makes in her essay that we, and our show Birth Days, stand 100% behind:
1. Postpartum Depression Is Totally Normal.
The CDC says that approximately one-in-nine women experiences postpartum depression. In her essay, Teigen states, “Before this, I had never, ever — in my whole entire life — had one person say to me: “I have post-partum depression. Growing up in the nineties, I associated postpartum depression with Susan Smith [a woman now serving life in prison for killing her two sons]." Teigan continues, “I didn’t have anything remotely close to those feelings… So I didn’t think I had it.” Remember: Awareness is important, so women can better understand the fluctuating, intense feelings that come with postpartum depression.
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2. Trust In The People Around You. Don't Be Afraid To Talk To Them.
Teigen struggled with having her husband John Legend, and her co-workers on Lip Sync Battle witness her depression. “To have people that you respect, who are the best in the business, witness you at your worst is tough. Even though this was something I shouldn’t have to apologize for, I did want to apologize,” she said. Instead of treating her depression like a crime, Teigen went around to those close to her and explained her condition. She reported nothing but support and love from her colleagues, book publishers, and family.
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3. Talk About The Experience Of Having Postpartum Depression.
From coming to terms with having it, to sharing it with those close to her, Teigen went on to talk about her postpartum depression even more. She writes, “I started taking an antidepressant, which helped. And I started sharing the news with friends and family—I felt like everyone deserved an explanation, and I didn’t know how else to say it other than the only way I know: just saying it. It got easier and easier to say it aloud every time. (I still don’t really like to say, “I have postpartum depression,” because the word depression scares a lot of people. I often just call it “postpartum.” Maybe I should say it, though. Maybe it will lessen the stigma a bit.)”
At the end of Teigen’s letter, she elaborated on what was so special about saying it. She says, “One thing I do know is that—for me—just merely being open about it helps.” It's a lesson any woman can take to heart.
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4. Seek Help.
The entire process of coming to terms with having something wrong, and acknowledging her depression is a stepping stone towards seeking a remedy. The letter describes explaining her symptoms to her general practitioner, and then finally getting diagnosed. “I remember being so exhausted,” she writes,” but happy to know that we could finally get on the path of getting better.” For Teigen, that path included taking antidepressants, talking to her loved ones, and going to therapy.
She reports in her essay that she’s become a “much different human” over the past couple months. Teigen writes, “Like anyone, with PPD or without, I have really good days and bad days. I will say, though, right now, all of the really bad days—the days that used to be all my days—are gone.”
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5. Bring Light To The Issue, Rather Than Pushing It Further Into The Dark.
The final lesson we learned from Teigen’s bold and enlightening essay is to follow her lead. Towards the end of the piece, she says, “I’m speaking up now because I want people to know it can happen to anybody and I don’t want people to have to feel embarrassed or alone.” Teigen's experience is shared by a lot of new mothers in the world. She’s reaching out ... and so can you.
Read Chrissy Teigan's entire personal essay on postpartum depression over at Glamour.
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