Friday, July 01, 2005

She's nicer than I am...

Here is Brooke's response to Tom "Fucking RE-TARD" Cruise:

War of Words

By BROOKE SHIELDS, The New York Times

I WAS hoping it wouldn't come to this, but after Tom Cruise's interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC show "Today" last week, I feel compelled to speak not just for myself but also for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression. While Mr. Cruise says that Mr. Lauer and I do not "understand the history of psychiatry," I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is caused by the hormonal shifts that occur after childbirth. During pregnancy, a woman's level of estrogen and progesterone greatly increases; then, in the first 24 hours after childbirth, the amount of these hormones rapidly drops to normal, nonpregnant levels. This change in hormone levels can lead to reactions that range from restlessness and irritability to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

I never thought I would have postpartum depression. After two years of trying to conceive and several attempts at in vitro fertilization, I thought I would be overjoyed when my daughter, Rowan Francis, was born in the spring of 2003. But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. This baby was a stranger to me. I didn't know what to do with her. I didn't feel at all joyful. I attributed feelings of doom to simple fatigue and figured that they would eventually go away. But they didn't; in fact, they got worse.

"If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease."
-Brooke Shields


I couldn't bear the sound of Rowan crying, and I dreaded the moments my husband would bring her to me. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted to disappear. At my lowest points, I thought of swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window of my apartment.

I couldn't believe it when my doctor told me that I was suffering from postpartum depression and gave me a prescription for the antidepressant Paxil. I wasn't thrilled to be taking drugs. In fact, I prematurely stopped taking them and had a relapse that almost led me to drive my car into a wall with Rowan in the backseat. But the drugs, along with weekly therapy sessions, are what saved me - and my family.

Since writing about my experiences with the disease, I have been approached by many women who have told me their stories and thanked me for opening up about a topic that is often not discussed because of fear, shame or lack of support and information. Experts estimate that one in 10 women suffer, usually in silence, with this treatable disease. We are living in an era of so-called family values, yet because almost all of the postnatal focus is on the baby, mothers are overlooked and left behind to endure what can be very dark times.

And comments like those made by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general.

If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease. Perhaps now is the time to call on doctors, particularly obstetricians and pediatricians, to screen for postpartum depression. After all, during the first three months after childbirth, you see a pediatrician at least three times. While pediatricians are trained to take care of children, it would make sense for them to talk with new mothers, ask questions and inform them of the symptoms and treatment should they show signs of postpartum depression.

In a strange way, it was comforting to me when my obstetrician told me that my feelings of extreme despair and my suicidal thoughts were directly tied to a biochemical shift in my body. Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable. With a doctor's care, I have since tapered off the medication, but without it, I wouldn't have become the loving parent I am today.

So, there you have it. It's not the history of psychiatry, but it is my history, personal and real.

Brooke Shields, the author of "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression," is starring in the musical "Chicago" in London.

7 comments:

BipolarPrincess said...

Did you see the poll on AOL? 94% agree with Brooke. Who are these 6% assholes????

Boycott Tom Cruise

Kat said...

Good for her! She pretty much put him down without lowering herself to his level.
BTW I'm in Knoxville too. What are the odds?

Rae Ann said...

Princess, yes, I did see that aol poll, and I voted in it too. That 6% is just either stupid or being contrary to just be contrary.

Wow, kat, that's cool!! What part are you in? I'm way out east almost to Grainger county.

gina said...

I agree with
Tom that taking vitamins and excercising can do tons for depression, in fact that is agreed on by pychologists- however postpartum depression- 1)is directly related to hormones. 2) comes at a when it is physically not safe to exercise (and you are not getting the sleep you require) 3) could be extremely dangerous (and lead to fatalities) if left untreated and it worsens. I don't understand any religion that preaches instead of offering real help.

Kat said...

West close to the mall, but I grew up in north near Fulton High.

mr_g said...

I once hypnotized someone to help her deal with her post-partum depression...and it worked. Cruise is a complete moron...but if indeed we are ever attacked by volcano-dwelling demons, I guess we'll be glad he's with us then, won't we...

Rae Ann said...

gina, it's true for people who are mildly depressed that dietary and lifestyle changes can make a big difference. But some of us are medically depressed just like any other disease. you can't separate the biological and the environmental aspects. It's not all of either, but for some it's more one than the other. if it weren't for the antidepressant effexor I'd be dead. That's sad, but true.

kat, that's so cool! I didn't go to high school around here but my husband went to West High.

mr g, oooh, I want to be hypnotized!! Maybe that would get rid of my demons. lol