Plus-size model Tess Holliday has long used her Instagram account to advocate that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. She’s been equally empowering and candid about her own journey to motherhood. The 32-year-old Holliday is a mother of two boys, Rylee (12) and Bowie (2). On Tuesday, Tess Holliday posted a powerful Instagram about unrealistic expectations placed on new moms—and every mom can totally relate.

Despite her youngest being nearly two-years-old, Holliday opened up about the extreme postpartum depression she’s faced since giving birth to Bowie in 2016. In March, the model posted to Instagram, “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.” Tuesday’s Instagram was even more candid, putting her vulnerability out there not as a grab at fan sympathy or pity, but in solidarity with a community of moms just trying to keep it all together.

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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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“Moms are expected to ‘bounce back’ physically & emotionally,” Holliday wrote on Instagram. She continued, “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.” She thanked her friends, family and other supports in her life to keep her from spiraling downward. “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,” Holliday warned other moms.

According to women’s health website Postpartum Progress, as many as 1 million women each year suffer from postpartum depression up to 12 months after the birth of their baby. But in Holliday’s case, her youngest is about to turn 2—and she addressed her critics directly on Instagram: “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.”

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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Holliday closed out her ‘gram with some important advice for any mom who feels like she’s struggling: “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.”

Preach, mama.

—Keiko Zoll

Featured Photo: Tess Holliday via Instagram

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