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Why other moms needed to hear Chrissy Teigen's postpartum confession
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By Andrea Peyser
March 10, 2017

Why other moms needed to hear Chrissy Teigen's postpartum confession

It’s hard to shed a tear for Chrissy Teigen, a glamorous, trim and wealthy woman who seems to have it all: A fabulous career as a supermodel and TV personality with a cookbook-writing sideline, a loving hubby in musician/actor/songwriter John Legend and an adorable baby girl. At 31 years old, she’s in her prime.

But don’t be so critical of Teigen because she’s beautiful and successful. She’s no different from the rest of us.

At what appeared to be the happiest time of her life, the stunner was hit with a crippling one-two punch of anxiety and sadness so severe, it nearly sapped her ability to work and her will to soldier on. It’s all because of something she shares with ladies around the globe, and even some dudes.

Postpartum depression is real. And it’s hell.

“Getting out of bed to set was painful,’’ she shared in an essay in the April issue of Glamour magazine. “My lower back throbbed; my shoulders — even my wrists — hurt. I didn’t have an appetite, 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.”

The funk set in after the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model went back to work last August as co-hostess of Spike TV’s “Lip Sync Battle’’ after giving birth in April to her and her 38-year-old husband’s first child, Luna Simone Stephens.

“When I wasn’t in the studio, I never left the house. I mean, never.

Not even a tiptoe outside.’’ she wrote. She spent frequent, often sleepless, nights on a couch, sometimes with Legend. She threw up a lot. Teigen joins celebrities who’ve come forward with confessions of postpartum issues, including Brooke Shields, Courteney Cox and Gwyneth Paltrow. If it can strike them, it can afflict anyone.

Even me.

After I had my now-teenage daughter, I slid into anxiety and anger.

I had no idea why. With a guilty conscience, I left the little one I loved more than anything on earth with a sitter one morning to visit a mental-health professional. Her reaction floored me. She wanted to know if I had considered harming my child. Never! This question, which I perceived as a harsh judgment, may help explain why many women, particularly those of color or lower incomes, fear having their children taken away from them and avoid seeking help, according to Ann Smith, a nurse practitioner and president of Postpartum Support International. Organization personnel connect the afflicted with caregivers and provide training to social workers, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, teaching them to show compassion and understanding.

In its mildest form, “baby blues’’ is characterized by mood swings.

“They’re up, they’re down, they’re crying, they’re laughing,’’ said Smith. According to experts, this affects about 75 to 80 percent of new moms, and symptoms disappear in two to three weeks without intervention.

About one in seven moms suffers mild to severe clinical mental-health episodes collectively known as “perinatal mood disorder,’’ and this can start during pregnancy. In addition to the depression, anxiety, loss of appetite or bingeing, insomnia or loss of energy and inexplicable fits of anger, some 50 percent of these women experience “intrusive thoughts,’’ Smith explained. They fantasize “50, 60, 70 times a day of harm coming to the baby, maybe at their own hand.’’ It’s scary. Additionally, some 10 percent of partners —male and female — are estimated to suffer.

At the worst end of the spectrum, about one or two out of 1,000 new mothers experiences postpartum psychosis — they see visions or hear voices that don’t exist, and these may tell them to hurt or kill their children. Think of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five kids in a bathtub in 2001.

The good news, said Smith, is that all these things are treatable, through psychotherapy or medication.

The difficult part is getting mothers to quit blaming themselves.

Teigen underwent a physical examination in December and received an unexpected diagnosis. Now, just speaking up about postpartum depression and anxiety helps her cope.

“I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling.

Sometimes I still do,” she wrote. … “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.’’

With this golden girl’s example, let’s hope other people find permission to heal.

©2007-2024 Andrea Peyser and; No Reuse without permission.
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