Postpartum depression, like any mental illness, doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone. I understand this personally because after my third child was born, it happened to me. When you experience a darkness like depression you hope that your loved ones will be there, offering support.
Chrissy Teigen recently wrote a powerful essay revealing her struggle with postpartum depression. Shortly after, her husband, Grammy award winning artist John Legend, voiced his support for her in an interview for People magazine.
“For me as a husband, it was my job to do the best I could to support her and understand what she was going through and do whatever I could do to help her. I feel like that’s the least I could do,” John says.
Chrissy has also described John as being “exactly as compassionate, patient, loving, and understanding as he seems.” What a caring husband!
Having a supportive partner can have a huge impact on treatment for depression. It was actually my husband, who’s a mental health nurse, who first recognized the symptoms of my postpartum depression. I was in heavy denial, sure that as my baby grew I would feel normal again. He lovingly encouraged me to make an appointment with a doctor, and to be honest about how I was feeling.
One part of my treatment has been opening up about my struggle through writing and sharing my experience with others. Chrissy’s essay was inspiring because it showed the world that even those who you would never guess — who seem to have it all — could be suffering. John says he is proud of his wife for sharing her story and “glad she wrote about it.”
“I think it was powerful for her to let a lot of women know they’re not alone, and no matter how much money you have or fame, anybody can feel that,” he continues. “And it’s hard for anybody no matter how successful you are and how many resources you have.”
I remember feeling so confused about the sadness that had invaded my life. I had everything I ever wanted: a loving husband, three healthy boys that I adored, and a writing career that I had always dreamed of pursuing. In Chrissy’s essay she describes some of the same confusion. “I had everything I needed to be happy. And yet, for much of the last year, I felt unhappy.”
When you love somebody, you want to understand how they are feeling. Empathy is a crucial part of being supportive, and John seems to understand that, saying, “[As a man] you don’t know internally what it feels like.”
My husband has struggled with depression so he could relate to how I was feeling, though it’s, of course, not the same. But showing some understanding makes all the difference.
John also mentions the importance of becoming educated about postpartum depression for your partner. “You should read about it and understand what it is and really just be there to help,” he notes.
In the end, it all comes back to love — and you can tell that this man loves this woman; that they are in this together. “You need to be present and you need to be compassionate,” John says. “We’re all learning and trying to figure it out as we go. At least do that and try to figure it out together.”