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Tess Holliday Wants Moms With Extreme Postpartum Depression to Know They're Not Alone

The model took to Instagram to share that she has battled extreme PPD after the birth of her son Bowie in June 2016. 

Tess Holliday Every Body Beautiful Symposium Refinery29 event Craig Barritt/Getty Images

From unrealistic beauty standards to breastfeeding, model and author Tess Holliday has been outspoken about a number of issues facing women and moms. But it wasn't until recently that she opened up about suffering from extreme postpartum depression

In a post she shared back in March, she explained that she had "been very open with how hard it’s been. From dealing with extreme PPD, to at times feeling really isolated and overwhelmed. My boys are 10 years apart and that comes with its own set of problems, but I’ve found support through other women." 

Since becoming a new mom (again!) I’ve been very open with how hard it’s been. From dealing with extreme PPD, to at times feeling really isolated and overwhelmed. My boys are 10 years apart and that comes with its own set of problems, but I’ve found support through other women. The other day I stumbled across @Peanut 🥜 in the App Store. It's genuinely amazing. The app shows your other mamas in your area who are at the same stage in life as you, who you share interests with beyond just motherhood. This is one of the things I LOVE about @Peanut - it recognizes that although we’re mothers, we still want to connect as women first and foremost. The app has this cool feature called Pages, to help you get advice about whatever you are dealing with from other mothers. There have been moments where I thought “can a tiny one year old really throw tantrums?!” GUESS WHAT, THEY CAN AND DO 🤦🏻‍♀️ One mom suggested teaching Bowie sign language so he can communicate what he needs to lessen the tantrums because he can’t yet say what he wants. 💡 Being a parent is really tough, but man is it worth these bags under my eyes! I encourage you to check @Peanut out, & I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me! There’s a reason they say it takes a village to raise a child! 💘 📸 @nickhollidayco #momlife

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Now, Tess is opening up even more about her mental health struggles after welcoming her son Bowie Juniper back in June 2016. In a post shared today, Tuesday, May 8, she explained that the selfie was taken a year ago, and "up until about a month ago, everyday since this photo was taken I thought in my head: 'I wish I could just vanish.'" Tess elaborated, "I’ve never had suicidal thoughts, or self harm, but the thoughts of just wanting to stop hurting and feeling helpless were new & frankly overwhelming. I’ve been open about my struggles with Postpartum Depression, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I had extreme PPD."

Does this look like someone who is suffering? This was taken a year ago today and up until about a month ago, everyday since this photo was taken I thought in my head: “I wish I could just vanish.” I’ve never had suicidal thoughts, or self harm, but the thoughts of just wanting to stop hurting and feeling helpless were new & frankly overwhelming. I’ve been open about my struggles with Postpartum Depression, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I had extreme PPD. I stopped talking about it as much because a few people told me I was coming across “too negative on social media”. (Well frankly, 🖕🏻) My “baby” is almost two, & some days are still filled with sadness, anxiety & helplessness... like today. . . As I write this, I’m in the bath with a mask on, crying to my life coach @ceramickitten via text wondering how my life is full of so many amazing things but the good bits seem hard to reach. When I get out the bath I’m going to eat something so I can take my anti depressants (I’m on month 2 of them), then I’m going to mediate & take Bowie to play with friends. . . Moms are expected to “bounce back” physically & emotionally. We are expected to “stay strong” for the family. Yet most of us (myself included) still have days where we feel like a stranger in our bodies, unattractive to ourselves (& partners), lonely because friends stop inviting you to stuff, etc. I’m grateful to have support in my life, friends to talk to, but it got so bad that I had to take action & by doing so it potentially saved my life. . . I guess what I’m saying is, moms/parental figures: you have to take time to care for YOU. Don’t let it get to the point mine did where you feel like you’re losing your mind. Don’t think because your child isn’t a “baby” that you couldn’t still be suffering from PPD, because I’m here to tell you, you most definitely can. Ask for help, talk to someone, find a support group or hell, message me. You aren’t alone & you don’t need to suffer alone. ❤️

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Unfortunately, she says accusations of being "too negative on social media" caused her to stop talking about it, she says. But the truth is that "some days are still filled with sadness, anxiety & helplessness... like today," she admitted, noting that her game plan for the day was to take "eat something so I can take my anti depressants (I’m on month 2 of them), then I’m going to mediate & take Bowie to play with friends."

She went on to note that postpartum life can be a challenging push-pull between meeting expectations and dealing with the realities of your mental and physical well-being. "Moms are expected to 'bounce back' physically & emotionally," the mom of two, who also has an 11-year-old son named Rylee, wrote. "We are expected to 'stay strong' for the family. Yet most of us (myself included) still have days where we feel like a stranger in our bodies, unattractive to ourselves (& partners), lonely because friends stop inviting you to stuff, etc. I’m grateful to have support in my life, friends to talk to, but it got so bad that I had to take action & by doing so it potentially saved my life."

Her ultimate message for other "moms/parental figures": "You have to take time to care for YOU. Don’t let it get to the point mine did where you feel like you’re losing your mind. Don’t think because your child isn’t a 'baby' that you couldn’t still be suffering from PPD, because I’m here to tell you, you most definitely can. Ask for help, talk to someone, find a support group or hell, message me. You aren’t alone & you don’t need to suffer alone."

Commenters have applauded her powerful message. "When people like you - people in the public eye - come forward and talk so openly and concisely and beautifully about such a difficult subject, you make it easier for everyone else to have those conversations too. Thank you for being brave and honest and open - I can appreciate how hard that must have been. And I'm grateful you sought help," one wrote. Another shared, "Being so open about this is helping so many moms that are going through the same thing. ANY type of mental health is completely normal and should be okay to talk about. The stigma needs to be broken. You are nothing short of amazing Tess. I'm glad you were able to recognize what was happening and started to take some control of it, instead of it fully taking control over you."

Props to Tess Holliday for fueling this important conversation. Her followers are so right. The more we talk about postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, baby blues, and similar mental health conditions, the more we can normalize it, and with hope, the more supported so many moms will feel.