Before giving birth to her second child, singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette knew she may have to face postpartum depression (PPD) once again.
The iconic songstress best known for her chart-topping album, Jagged Little Pill, had struggled with PPD after the birth of her first child, Ever Imre, now 6. In a recent interview with People Magazine, Morissette describes being “at the ready” to face the darkness once again.
As it was, the singer says that her PPD returned “within seconds” of giving birth last June to her a baby girl, Onyx. “There are days I’m debilitated to the point where I can barely move,” she describes, adding; “It’s very isolating.”
Symptoms such intense physical pain, insomnia, lethargy and “horrifyingly scary” visions of her family being harmed were not new to Morissette, but this time she was more aware of what was going on. The singer admits to waiting to get help for her PPD the first time around until her son was 16 months old.
I can relate, as I waited until my third child was 18 months old before getting help for my depression. My doctor informed me that because my PPD had gone untreated for so long, it would now be considered major depressive disorder. What I had considered to be a condition that would just go away with time, was now going to be a bigger part of my life than I ever imagined.
Morissette admits that she is still struggling with her illness today, 14 months after giving birth, noting that it is “four times worse” this time around:
“I’m used to being the Rock of Gibraltar,” she explains, “providing, protecting and maneuvering. 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.”
The hopelessness and debilitating darkness that surrounds you can be such a difficult thing to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced PPD. Even the smallest tasks seem insurmountable. And it can strike anyone – even celebrities who seem to have it all.
Morissette tells People that she is treating her illness with a “combination of medication and homeopathic therapies, exercising daily, working with therapists and channeling her struggles into music.” She adds, “I wrote many, many songs over the last three months. I had to start writing songs, or I was going to implode.”
Finding a creative outlet can definitely help. I dealt with my pain through writing, but that wasn’t enough. Eventually, I realized that medication was necessary for me. I fought it and have started and stopped numerous times, but have come to realize that I am a much healthier person when I take my medication regularly.
According to Morissette, her “main priority” is to make sure that her children are “loved and bonded with and provided for,” adding that she “doesn’t want it to be their burden.” Morissette also reveals the toll that her illness has taken a toll on her marriage to husband, rapper Mario “Souleye” Treadway. “Poor Souleye sometimes gets the dregs of my exhaustion at the end of the night. Even holding hands at this point is a deeply intimate experience.”
And Morissette knows that it’s not just her family that has noticed the change in her. As she says in the interview, “There are people who are like, ‘Where’s the old Alanis?’ and I just think, ‘Well, she’s in here. She’s having a minute.’” And that’s a perfect way to describe it. Some days I don’t feel at all like myself, but I know that the real me is still inside somewhere. “I just know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and try not to beat myself up,” she says.
Still, Morissette is aware of the stigma surrounding her illness. “The stigma remains in a really big way,” she reveals. “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.’”
I, too, am sorry that she – or anyone – has to experience depression. It robs us of so much, but speaking our truth may be the first step to a healthier life. Darkness can be broken by letting in the light, seeking the help that we need, and never giving up.