“I started feeling suicidal,” Griffin tells Refinery29. “I went to a clinic close to where I live and told someone there I wanted to kill myself. Unfortunately, they said I didn’t have the right insurance, so they turned me away. I went back to my car… I just remember feeling so alone.”
Griffin’s sister-in-law pointed her to the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network. They have a holistic program called AHN Women that helps women experiencing postpartum depression. It was a three-hour drive away from Griffin’s home, but the program got her in to see an expert right away. She joined their outpatient program, and found herself sitting on a green couch next to Chrissy Teigen months later.
Teigen, AHN, and Griffin have became part of a campaign that launched Thursday in the United States called #MyWishForMoms, which aims to create open dialogue among women about postpartum depression and anxiety. Teigen talks to moms like Griffin about the issue in videos to be released in the next few months.
“Part of my healing was being really open about my struggles with postpartum depression,” Griffin tells Refinery29. “I felt ashamed because I had this new gorgeous baby who almost never cried. He was a good baby from the get-go. But I was struggling. I loved doing an interview with Chrissy Teigen because even though we were in really different situations, we’d both gone through this postpartum depression.” It’s true. Griffin and Teigen live divergent lives. “She went through IVF and really wanted a child. My pregnancy was a surprise. She’s famous, and I’m a girl from Ohio. But it affected us both really similarly.”
Sarah Homitsky, MD, a psychiatrist and medical director of women’s behavioural health at AHN, says that postpartum depression is more common than people realise. “Women are not alone, and they don’t realise that,” Dr. Homitsky tells Refinery29.
Up to one in seven new moms develop postpartum depression, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Postpartum depression is characterised by extreme feelings of sadness, anxiety and exhaustion that can threaten the well-being of moms, babies and their families.
Just in time for Maternal Mental Health month, the model, author, and activist got involved with AHN, and together they’re producing a series of video interviews of Teigen talking to women who’ve struggled postpartum.
“When I was approached with this opportunity to help be the voice for women experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety, I thought, ‘This is perfect!’ Teigen says. “I’m grateful to be able to use the platform that I’ve been given to reduce the stigma that many women feel when talking about these very real and treatable conditions. I wish I had known that postpartum depression can happen to anyone, because I didn’t think it could happen to me. Here I was with my perfect, little Luna and a supportive husband, yet I was truly struggling.”
Postpartum problems are common, but can be treated. Treatment looks different for everyone, says Dr. Homitsky. “We incorporate psychotherapy, mindfulness, cognitive behavioural stress tolerance, and perinatal baby yoga,” she notes. “There’s a push across the country to make mental health treatment for this time period more mom-and-baby-focused. People who are depressed postpartum are often unintentionally disengaged with their baby, and it doesn’t make any sense to remove the baby from the treatment.”
Teigen revealed that she ate her placenta to combat postpartum depression the birth of her second child, USA Today reported. Dr. Homitsky says she doesn’t recommend this treatment method. “It’s something we get asked about a lot,” Dr. Homitsky says. “In terms of research, it doesn’t suggest prevention or treatment of postpartum depression or anxiety. Now, we don’t make decisions for families, but it’s not something we prescribe.”
In the #MyWishForMoms campaign videos, each of the women talk with Teigen about their postpartum struggles. The overall message of the effort is to spread hope and awareness. “My wish for moms is that they know they aren’t alone, and they are supported by the more than 500,000 women who share their experience each year,” Teigen says.
This wish came true already for at least one mom: Ashleigh Griffin. And she has a wish too: “You didn’t cause your postpartum — it’s the hormones, and this is your brain. This is not your fault.”
If you are experiencing postpartum depression, please call Parentline on 0808 800 2222