Postpartum depression is an illness that's left many new moms feeling afraid, anxious and alone. But with more and more people speaking out about it, we're all making progress—which is why we commend Alanis Morissette for opening up about her experience with postpartum depression (PPD).
In a new interview with SELF, Alanis is quite candid about being pregnant at 45 as a mom of two young kids. Like most moms, her mental load is a pretty heavy one, but she feels she was prepared for the physical load of a pregnancy after 40
"I think this pregnancy is different from the first two times because of my ability to sense what's going on inside my body in a lot more of a subtle way," she said in an accompanying video.
Alanis Morissette speaks out to SELF
Physically, Alanis says she was ready for this pregnancy and she's ready emotionally, too.
In her new interview with SELF she explains that her previous experiences with postpartum depression have readied her for this pregnancy and for getting help afterward.
"Not singularly relying on myself to diagnose myself is key," she told SELF. "Because the first time around I waited."
This isn't the first time Alanis has talked publicly about waiting a long time to get help when she was suffering from PPD. Like a lot of mothers, she didn't get help for PPD right away, instead suffering for a year and four months after the birth of her first baby.
"The stigma remains in a really big way," the singer previously told People. "There's this version of eye contact that I have with women who have been through postpartum depression where it's this silent, 'Oh my God, I love you. I'm so sorry.'"
Psychologist Venus Mahmoodi of the Seleni Institute, a nonprofit destigmatizing maternal mental health care, says this is common. "A lot of times they don't realize that it's depression or anxiety, they're just so focused on their baby," Mahmoodi explains. But as time goes on they start to notice something's not right, and that's when they realizing they need help, she says.
When Morisette became pregnant with her second child, she tried to prepare herself for the return of PPD best she could. She tells People, "I had a pretty good sense that it was going to happen again." She was right. The You Oughta Know singer says she felt the return of PPD symptoms just minutes after daughter Onyx.
Having support is key, says Alanis (and professionals)
According to Mahmoodi, "If someone has experienced postpartum depression after their first child is born there is a higher chance of them developing postpartum depression after the second is born. It's not necessarily worse, but if they've never gotten treatment they're likely to just be feeling continuously worse and worse."
The physical pain, scary thoughts about her family being harmed, insomnia and lethargy she'd struggled against the first time came flooding back. Alanis says her PPD was four times worse the second time around.
"I'm used to being the Rock of Gibraltar, providing, protecting and maneuvering," she told People. "It had me question everything. I've known myself to be a really incredible decision-maker and a leader that people can rely on. [Now] I can barely decide what to eat for dinner."
Morissette leaned on her husband, rapper Mario "Souleye" Treadway during her battles with PPD. And, according to People, she's treatied her depression with medication and homeopathics, exercise, therapy and—of course—music.
We applaud Morissette for making sure this illness doesn't make her quiet. This is a song so many mamas need to hear.
[A version of this post was originally published September 7, 2017. It has been updated.]
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