Actress and model Brooke Shields has spoken openly about her battle with postpartum (also known as postnatal) depression over the years. The 44-year-old gave birth to daughter Rowan in 2003 after reportedly undergoing several in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts and having a miscarriage.
Now, Shields advocates awareness of the disorder and strives to let all affected women know they are not alone. In an interview given to ABC News in 2007, she talks of the stigma surrounding postpartum depression and the pressures faced by women to instantly be perfect mothers: “There’s so many different things that happen, and so many changes, and we are taught that if you don’t do this beautifully then you are wrong, you are bad, you are not a good mother, you are not a good woman.“
Drawing on her own experiences of the illness, Shields published a book entitled “Down Came the Rain“. Feeling she was too young to write an autobiography, she wanted to share her experiences with the world nonetheless, in an attempt to help other women in her position.
Writing in the third person, she talks about a woman who, after a long journey through fertility treatments, finally gets pregnant and has “a perfect baby girl“, “but instead of being relieved and happy, all she could do was cry“.
It took a while until doctors diagnosed Shields’ illness and were able to treat it properly. The model points out that depressive behaviour is often just put down to a case of the “baby blues“ and not considered a real problem.
While receiving an advocacy award from the Hope for Depression Research Foundation in Manhattan last month, Shields talked candidly about how serious her depression became. After giving birth the her daughter “I couldn’t hold her and I couldn’t sing to her and I couldn’t smile at her … All I wanted to do was disappear and die“, People.com reported.
The star also spoke about an incident that led her close to killing herself and her baby during a period when she came off medication, thinking she no longer needed it: “That was the week I almost did not resist driving my car straight into a wall on the side of the freeway … My baby was in the back seat and that even pissed me off because I thought she’s even ruining this for me.“
Thankfully, Brooke Shields has survived her ordeal and is now off medication and a happy mother to six-year-old Rowan and Grier, aged three. Her battle for awareness continues however, as she tries to save as many women as possible from going through what she did.
Image attribution: Wikimedia File:Brooke Shields crop.jpgTags: IVF