Adele on postnatal depression and ‘brave’ child-free women: “I felt pressurised into kids”

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Kayleigh Dray
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It was recently revealed that more women than ever are choosing not to have children – for any number of wide-ranging reasons.

Yet, despite the stats, these women often find themselves under a harsh spotlight.

They’re dubbed “too selfish”, or told that they will “regret it when they’re older” – and quickly come to learn that almost everyone around them will have their own opinion about what she should do with her own body.

Adele, however, has now spoken up to say she considers the choice to break away from the presumed narrative of motherhood is one of the bravest.

Speaking in Vanity Fair, the Hello singer said: “I think it’s the bravest thing not to have a child; all my friends and I felt pressurised into having kids, because that’s what adults do.

“I love my son more than anything, but on a daily basis, if I have a minute or two, I wish I could do whatever the f**k I wanted, whenever I want.

“Every single day I feel like that.”

Adele went on to explain that she is not intending to have more children in the near future, as the toll on her mental health after giving birth to son Angelo, now four, was too high.

“I’m too scared,” she said. “I had really bad post-partum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me.”

The 28-year-old went on to say that she found herself naturally gravitating towards other mothers, as she found her friends without children couldn’t relate to how she was struggling.

“My friends who didn’t have kids would get annoyed with me,” she said. “Whereas I knew I could just sit there and chat absolute mush with my friends who had children, and we wouldn’t judge each other. One day I said to a friend, ‘I f**kin’ hate this,’ and she just burst into tears and said, ‘I f**kin’ hate this, too.’ And it was done. It lifted.”

It later became apparent that Adele was experiencing symptoms of post-partum depression, although the singer admits that she did not recognise this at the time – it simply didn’t fit with her understanding of what she thought she knew about the psychiatric illness.

As the NHS explains, many women who experience postnatal depression find themselves feeling persistently sad or low, which leads to a lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world. Many find themselves feeling tired all the time, yet are unable to drift off to sleep at night – and this leads to problems with concentration or making decisions during the day. They often find it difficult to bond with their babies.

It does not, as Adele believed, always lead to frightening thoughts (for example, about hurting your baby) – which is why it took her so long to understand that she was experiencing something far more serious than the “baby blues”.

“My knowledge of post-partum – or post-natal, as we call it in England – is that you don't want to be with your child; you're worried you might hurt your child; you're worried you weren't doing a good job,” she said.

“But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I'd made the worst decision of my life… it can come in many different forms.”

In the end, she recognised that she needed to spend a little more time looking after herself and her mental health.

She said: “Eventually I just said, I’m going to give myself an afternoon a week, just to do whatever the f**k I want without my baby. A friend of mine said, ‘Really? Don’t you feel bad?’ I said, I do, but not as bad as I’d feel if I didn’t do it.”

Adele – who is currently on tour to promote her album 25 – previously said that she has “never been happier”.

Speaking in December 2015, she even admitted that she was finding it difficult to write music due to her elevated mood.

“I've never been happier,” she said on the TODAY Show. “And I've never been healthier. So I'm good. I found it impossible [to write songs] for a while. I didn't know what I wanted to write about ... What's wrong is, I wasn't sad.

"Hello is just about reconnecting with everyone else and myself. From the other side, I couldn't get over my guilt of leaving my kid to go and write a record and stuff like that. So [it's] getting over that - getting on the other side of that. It was just, you know, it's in general, just hello to everyone."

She added: "I know that sounds a bit like I'm trying to write a Hollywood movie but it's only because of him and because of our kid and stuff that I'm all right."

You can read Adele’s full interview in the December issue of Vanity Fair.


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.