There’s no doubt celebrities influence our daily lives. From the first royal families to the first movie stars, we’ve had a fascination with what they are doing and how they are living. This influence carries over into the products we buy, places we go and causes we support.
Celebrities also wield a lot of power when it comes to reducing stigma and changing public opinion. Think, how did our view of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS change when Magic Johnson stepped forward and spoke about his status or when Michael J Fox first announced he was battling Parkinson’s disease? Lately more and more celebrity moms have come forward to speak about maternal mental illness and I’m grateful. I’m glad not because I want postpartum depression to become trendy or anxiety to be in vogue, but because in coming out with their own struggles, these famous mothers are helping to reduce stigma.
So today, I offer you this list I’ve compiled of famous mothers and their statements on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Some are known for TV and film, others for writing careers or athletic accomplishments, but what they all have in common is the awesome title of Mom and the badge of the survivor of maternal mental illness. So here in no particular order:
A four-time USA Outdoor 400-meter hurdles champion, Lashinda battled fatigue and postpartum depression after giving birth to her twin boys in 2007. Regarding the lies her depression told her "I was only 24, 25 at the time and I felt like I couldn't be pretty anymore. No need to put makeup on, no need to dress up because you're a mom. And moms stay home." Lashinda went on to claim the Olympic Silver Medal for Team USA in 2012 looking like a Warrior Queen. Take that depression.
You ought to know…this rock star mom has been pretty vocal about her views on birth, parenting AND her battle against postpartum depression. “I just thought it was a swampy chapter, if I soldiered it out, that it would go away,” the singer, told ET Canada. “I came to realize that the longer I waited, the more intense it would become.” In sharing her struggle, Alanis hopes to inspire other moms to reach out,
“I think if there is any goal in me talking about it, it would be to eradicate the shame around it,” she explains. “It’s just what happens sometimes and, for me, I just waited way too long to reach out for help.”
In an interview with Gotham Magazine, the actress spoke about her struggle with a serious case of postpartum depression by saying that the feelings of euphoria she enjoyed while pregnant "all came crashing down the second [Frankie] was born; "expecting to feel fulfilled," Amanda said she instead felt "sleep-deprived beyond belief" and ambivalent about motherhood. She added, "I want to be honest about it because I think there’s still so much shame when you have mixed feelings about being a mom instead of feeling this sort of 'bliss.' I think a lot of people still really struggle with that, but it’s hard to find other people who are willing to talk about it."
Bryce Dallas Howard
Wrote a real honest, raw account of her struggle with postpartum depression for her pal Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP. Bryce opened up about the dark secrets many who are struggling keep and the turmoil of weathering the storm. Definitely worth the read.
The actress and mom shared that no one told her about postpartum depression until after she got it. Angie fought through it after all three of her daughters were born. In an interview with Pop Sugar she said She considers the disorder to be “the dirty little secret your friends forget to tell you about motherhood. “ Way to go Angie, thanks for bringing up the topic no one seems to want to talk about (well except for those of us in the know).
Gina Lee Nolan
Yes, Gina, the Baywatch bombshell herself endured postpartum depression after three of her four children. We hope Gina makes good on her idea to write a book about her experience one day.
Brook Shields and Marie Osmond both wrote books about their journeys that have been repeatedly hailed by readers. The very real message of hope both ladies offer is worth the price of picking up a copy.
I simply could not publish this without mentioning the amazing Patty Duke.
The late actress has been honored for her efforts for bringing more awareness to mental illness. Her struggle with mental illness was well documented in her autobiography A Brilliant Madness. At one point she was dubbed “the poster girl for bi-polar disorder” and her work as an advocate lives on today. “Anna (her given name) fought for civil rights, gay rights and the rights of working actors to name just a few. Her greatest achievement was confronting her mental illness and making her story public. She crossed the Nation speaking and campaigning and lobbying for mental health. My mom took her place as a mental health advocate in the greatest tradition of noble leadership.” - Sean Astin, Actor & Patty Duke’s Son
I’m glad all these women shared their experience with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. I only wish the media would continue to talk about ALL the women who are suffering, you know the one in every seven mothers experiencing these illnesses. Perhaps one day People or Time will report on the difficulties in getting help or the lack of appropriate care for the estimated 1.3 women suffering with maternal mental illness.
I’m glad they are willing to report on Alanis, along with other celebrities with postpartum depression, like Bryce. And Gwyneth. And Kendra. And Lisa. And Amanda. And Angie. And Brooke, Drew, Hayden.
To all of the moms in the spot light, thanks for helping shed some light on the dark side of motherhood. We appreciate your voice as we struggle to reduce the stigma of mental illness and motherhood.
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the