Confession: I think Brooke Shields is kinda amazing, both for having survived being a child star with class (and managing to remain successful through adulthood) and for initiating a long-overdue public dialogue about postpartum depression.
And, even more importantly, for having great hair.
So I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear that she received an advocacy award from the Hope for Depression Research Foundation on Monday. During her acceptance speech, Brooke once again described the depths of her struggle with the disease, saying, “All I wanted to do was disappear and die.”
The 44-year-old actress, who wrote about her journey through depression in the book “Down Came the Rain,” told the audience she felt her life was meaningless after the birth of her first daughter.
“[I thought] I should not exist. The baby would be better off without me. Life was never going to get better — so I better just go,” she said. “We think and we feel that we should just be able to handle it on our own.”
Brooke has two daughters, Rowan, 6, and Grier, 3. After a miscarriage and seven IVF attempts, she gave birth to Rowan in 2003 with her husband, TV writer Chris Henchy. “I finally had a healthy beautiful baby girl and I couldn’t look at her,” she said. “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.”
She consulted a doctor for help and was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance. “I learned what was going on inside my body and what was going on inside my brain. I learned I wasn’t doing anything wrong to feel that way. That it was actually out of my control,” she said. “I didn’t [fight] at first — but finally I did. I survived.”
I suffered from severe depression in college — it runs in my family, big-time — so I have been on high alert after giving birth to Miss Skye. I have not yet experienced any of the symptoms, other than the everyday frustrations of being a new mother, but am thankful to Brooke and others for making women aware that postpartum depression exists, that it is common, and that it is not only okay but NECESSARY to ask for help. That we are not alone.
And how do I repay Ms. Shields for this…? By posting a crazy-ass picture of her. That’s how I roll.