Chrissy Teigen often speaks without a filter, whether it’s in 140 characters on Twitter or in interviews, and her latest cover story is no exception. In the April issue of Glamour magazine, the model and Internet darling, used her cover story to open up about her postpartum depression in a letter she penned. It’s as relatable as anything else Teigen says too.
If you were unaware that Teigen struggled with postpartum depression, you wouldn’t be alone. The mother of Luna, who turns one year old next month, begins her letter by acknowledging that she hid it well. “Let me start here: To a lot of you, I think, I seem like the happiest person on the planet,” she writes. “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.... 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.”
Part of the reason that it took so long for Teigen to realize she was suffering from postpartum depression was that she thought her feelings might be attributed to other stressors in her life. “After I had Luna, our home was under construction, so we lived in a rental home, then a hotel, and I blamed whatever stress or detachment or sadness I was feeling at that time on the fact that there were so many odd circumstances,” she writes. “I remember thinking: ‘Maybe I’ll feel better when we have a home.’ ...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.’”
Since many of her symptoms were physical, Teigen first thought to problem-solve through physicians. “Getting out of bed to get to set on time was painful,” she writes. “My lower back throbbed; my shoulders—even my wrists—hurt. I didn’t have an appetite. I would go two days without a bite of food, and you know how big of a deal food is for me. One thing that really got me was just how short I was with people.... I wondered: Am I making this all up? Is this pain even real anymore?.... Before, when I entered a room, I had a presence: head high, shoulders back, big smile. Suddenly I had become this person whose shoulders would cower underneath her chin. I would keep my hands on my belly and try to make myself as small as possible.”
Another reason it took so long for Teigen to figure out her diagnosis: The absence of conversations around postpartum depression—especially in previous decades—which she’s helping to change with this letter. “Before this, I had never, ever—in my whole entire life—had one person say to me: ‘I have postpartum depression,’” she writes. “Growing up in the nineties, I associated postpartum depression with Susan Smith [a woman now serving life in prison for killing her two sons; her lawyer argued that she suffered from a long history of depression], with people who didn’t like their babies or felt like they had to harm their children. I didn’t have anything remotely close to those feelings. I looked at Luna every day, amazed by her. So I didn’t think I had it.”
“I also just didn’t think it could happen to me,” Teigen writes. “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.”
It was a relief, however, when Teigen finally realized she was struggling with postpartum depression. “I remember being so exhausted but happy to know that we could finally get on the path of getting better,” she remembers. “John had that same excitement. 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.)
The moving letter—which you might want to read with a box of tissues at your side—comes to an end with Teigen addressing her fellow mothers who’ve had similar journeys: “I know I might sound like a whiny, entitled girl,” she writes. “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... Phew! I’ve hated hiding this from you. XX, Chrissy.”
You can read Teigen’s April cover story for Glamour in full here, and pick up the issue on newsstands starting March 14.