Alanis Morissette posed for a magazine cover breastfeeding her 8-month-old, and we're applauding
Alanis Morissette posed for Health‘s May cover while breastfeeding her 8-month-old son, Winter. It was in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Mother’s Day, and her track record of displaying her body however the hell she wants. (Do you remember this killer music video?) The singer, advice columnist, and self-proclaimed “empath” also opened up about her history with mental health, including postpartum depression.
When asked about her decision to shoot the cover while breastfeeding, Morissette responded: “Because I love women. I love moms so much. If I talk about it too much, I’ll start crying.”
“I just think moms are so selfless day in and day out—women are just killing it all the time,” she added. She also recognized that many mothers are “functioning sufferers.” She hopes that this realistic image of motherhood provides both validation for mothers and a little bit of “humor around it.”
Over the course of the interview, Morissette took an unflinchingly candid approach to discussing deeply personal topics. Specifically, she opened up about her experiences with postpartum depression—which she said differed each of the three times she gave birth.
“My first two children, it was mostly depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety. But the depression was so in my face that the anxiety was just background music,” Morissette said. “With this one, it’s mostly anxiety and almost no depression.”
Morissette also explained that, this time around, she’s able to conceive of her postpartum depression from a biological, and more objective, standpoint.
“I’ve come to understand that this is purely animal,” she said. “With breastfeeding, your oxytocin goes sky-high. Then cortisol goes sky-high because you’re trying to protect the baby from, you know, a potential saber-toothed tiger. You’ve got these two competing hormones.”
The Jagged Little Pill singer admitted that postpartum depression “challenges the bond” between mother and baby.
To overcome that challenge, she said: “I rely on the oxytocin and on knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” as well as the inherent knowledge that that bond “just keeps growing over the years.”
Unsurprisingly, Morissette is also a major advocate for therapy. She’s been going to therapy since she was 15 years old. (“I went to find my own therapist for my eating disorder, and it was awesome,” she told Health). Now, she instills the importance of therapy—and an openness about mental health—with her children.
“We talk about therapy all the time,” she said. “And then with feelings, it’s a big deal for me to let them feel all the way through. I want to give them the feeling that they’re not alone, that I’m right here and they can feel it all the way through…I really think the earlier you get your family into therapy, the better.”
We appreciate Morissette’s candor. We know it will help so many people experiencing the same things to feel less alone.