Alanis Morissette is very familiar with postpartum depression; the singer, songwriter and soon-to-be mom of three has been diagnosed with the condition twice. But Morissette is doing what she can to protect herself this time around. In a recent interview with Self, Morissette shared her struggles with postpartum depression in the hopes that her candor and transparency may actually help prevent it.
“I had postpartum depression both times,” Morissette said. “It felt like tar had taken over my whole body, and I was underwater. I kept having that image of wanting to get above the wave.” But it was quite awhile before Morissette was able to come up for air. “The first time around I didn’t seek help for a year and four months, and the second time around I waited four months.”
The good news is that Morissette learned a lot from her experience and, this time, she is prioritizing her mental health. “This time I’m not waiting even four minutes. I have said to my friends, I want you to not necessarily go by the words I’m saying and as best as I can, I’ll try to be honest, but I can’t personally rely on the degree of honesty if I reference the last two experiences… even if I say I’m okay, I want you to resist believing me at first.”
Of course, her latter comment may not make sense to someone who has never struggled with a mental health condition or perinatal mood disorder. If she’s hurting, she should reach out; she should just ask for help. But depression is tricky and insidious. Depression lies, and I would know. I had severe postpartum depression with my daughter and, in spite of my experience, awareness and knowledge, I struggled after the birth of my son.
It took me weeks to admit this truth.
That said, there is no way to prevent postpartum depression. “Even when women take steps to protect themselves, they can still experience depression and anxiety,” Karen Kleiman, a social worker and the founder and director of The Postpartum Stress Center, told Self. Still, there are ways in which women can lower their risk. You can work with your therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist and/or OBGYN to devise a plan. You can speak with close friends and family members in advance, and tell them exactly what you are worried about — and what you may need — and you can try to minimize the risk by eating regularly, sleeping regularly and exercising often. Studies have shown that a mere 20-minute stroll around your ‘hood can elevate your mood.
As for Morissette, despite her struggles, the Jagged Little Pill singer loves being pregnant. “I’m one of those women that actually really enjoys being pregnant,” Morissette admitted. But she does worry how the new addition will affect her other children. “[I just want to] integrate [them] as quickly and smoothly as possible so that my two kids really don’t feel like they’re losing their mom… I’m terrified, but there’s no other choice.” And we get it. But the best thing Morissette (or any new parent, for that matter) can do is to take it one second, one minute, and one day at a time.
For more information about postpartum depression and/or other maternal mood disorders, visit Postpartum Progress. You can also contact Postpartum Support International — 1-800-944-4773 — or text “START” to 741-741 to immediately speak to a trained counselor at Crisis Text Line.