Chrissy Teigen — model, cookbook author and arbiter of Twitter troll justice — can always be counted upon to be truthful and genuine in spite of her celebrity status. It’s part of her irrefutable charm, and makes her seem relatable to every woman, despite the fact that she’s famous and married to singer-songwriter John Legend (and living a decidedly non-relatable lifestyle).
Recently, Teigen penned an essay for Glamour about her private struggle with postpartum depression following the birth of her baby daughter, Luna. For those who are familiar with Teigen, the essay was a surprising departure from her searingly funny Twitter feed and happy-go-lucky Instagram account.
In the essay, Teigen admits that she has an extremely fortunate life — but that postpartum depression is in indiscriminate force, and it can effect anyone.
Teigen discusses how lucky she is to have her husband, John, and how she realizes their relationship is mushy as hell.
Let me start here: To a lot of you, I think, I seem like the happiest person on the planet. I have an incredible husband—John and I have been together for over 10 years. He has seen my successes and failures; I’ve seen his. He has seen me at my worst, but I will say I don’t think I have ever seen him at his. He’s exactly as compassionate, patient, loving, and understanding as he seems. And I hate it. OK, I don’t hate it. But it can certainly drive you nuts sometimes when you’re as cynical as I am. If I weren’t me, I would politely excuse myself to make the most epic eye roll of all time if a woman talked to me about her significant other the way I just did to you.
Although Teigen says everything in her life seemed perfect, her inner life was filled with unhappiness for reasons that were utterly mysterious, until she visited her doctor.
I had everything I needed to be happy. And yet, for much of the last year, I felt unhappy. What basically everyone around me—but me—knew up until December was this: I have postpartum depression.
Teigen explains that, following the birth of her daughter, and John and their baby lived in a rental house and a hotel while their home was under construction. She says that she often blamed her depression on their transitive living situation.
I blamed whatever stress or detachment or sadness I was feeling at that time on the fact that there were so many odd circumstances. I remember thinking: “Maybe I’ll feel better when we have a home.”
When Teigen returned to work at Lip Sync Battle after her maternity leave, she found herself becoming easily irritated by innocuous questions and bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. She felt tired and aching all the time, and was totally sapped of her energy. She was unsure whether or not she could be a co-host on the show anymore, and could barely summon the gumption to leave the house.
I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy. I blamed it on being tired and possibly growing out of the role: “Maybe I’m just not a goofy person anymore. Maybe I’m just supposed to be a mom.”
When I wasn’t in the studio, I never left the house. I mean, never. Not even a tiptoe outside. I’d ask people who came inside why they were wet. Was it raining? How would I know—I had every shade closed. Most days were spent on the exact same spot on the couch and rarely would I muster up the energy to make it upstairs for bed. John would sleep on the couch with me, sometimes four nights in a row. I started keeping robes and comfy clothes in the pantry so I wouldn’t have to go upstairs when John went to work. There was a lot of spontaneous crying.
However, a doctor’s visit soon explained why Teigen was feeling this swirling vortex of negative emotions.
Before the holidays I went to my GP for a physical. John sat next to me. I looked at my doctor, and my eyes welled up because I was so tired of being in pain. Of sleeping on the couch. Of waking up throughout the night. Of throwing up. Of taking things out on the wrong people. Of not enjoying life. Of not seeing my friends. Of not having the energy to take my baby for a stroll. My doctor pulled out a book and started listing symptoms. And I was like, “Yep, yep, yep.” I got my diagnosis: postpartum depression and anxiety. (The anxiety explains some of my physical symptoms.)
After the diagnosis, Teigen says she started taking an antidepressant, and began to feel more like her old self again. Although there were still bad days, there were no more terrible days — although Teigen says it was still difficult to control the guilt she felt.
I also just didn’t think it could happen to me. I have a great life. I have all the help I could need: John, my mother (who lives with us), a nanny. But postpartum does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do.
Teigen says that she is fully aware how difficult postpartum depression is for women who aren’t in such a privileged situation. She also says that she feels the need to talk about her experience as a way to de-stigmatize the reality of PPD, and let other women know that it can happen regardless of circumstance.
I know I might sound like a whiny, entitled girl. Plenty of people around the world in my situation have no help, no family, no access to medical care. I can’t imagine not being able to go to the doctors that I need. It’s hurtful to me to know that we have a president who wants to rip health care away from women. I look around every day and I don’t know how people do it. I’ve never had more respect for mothers, especially mothers with postpartum depression.
I’m speaking up now because I want people to know it can happen to anybody and I don’t want people who have it to feel embarrassed or to feel alone. I also don’t want to pretend like I know everything about postpartum depression, because it can be different for everybody. But one thing I do know is that—for me—just merely being open about it helps.
Teigen says that John has been the most supportive partner imaginable, and that his patience with her post-pregnancy adjustment has been truly inspiring.
I know he must look over at times and think: My God, get it together. But he has never made me feel that way. He wants me to be happy, silly, and energetic again, but he’s not making me feel bad when I’m not in that place. I love John and Luna more than I can imagine loving anything, and John and I still hope to give Luna a few siblings. Postpartum hasn’t changed that.
Pospartum depression is a mood disorder which affects roughly 10 to 15% of women in the United States every year. It’s important to realize that PPD is not only extremely common, it’s important to take away its stigma. Women who experience PPD should not bury their feelings under a layer of guilt — rather, they should understand that it’s important to talk to their doctors and seek out help, so that they can start experiencing life and motherhood to its fullest. Hopefully, Chrissy’s open letter will encourage other women to feel supported on their postpartum journey, and educate the general public about the hormonal and emotional realities that come with giving birth.