Celia Behar remembers the moment she realized her misery had a name. For three weeks during the fall of 2006, she had been lying in bed holding her newborn daughter, H, sobbing uncontrollably and apologizing to her baby. She was sorry because she couldn’t feel anything. She was sorry because she didn’t want to be there or anywhere. She was sorry because she kept looking at the bottle of Percocet sitting on her nightstand and imagining taking it all. A 33-year-old therapist living in Ithaca, New York, Behar could not understand what was happening to her. Then she remembered Brooke Shields sitting on Oprah Winfrey’s couch in a 2005 segment.Shields had described the same hysterical tears, the same terrifying rage and self-hatred, the same numb detachment. ”
Don’t ignore the symptoms of postpartum depression,” Shields said to the camera. “Find out what medicine’s available.” So, that’s what Celia Behar did. She called her obstetrician, who immediately prescribed Prozac.I thought, ‘I guess this is just motherhood.'”The Prozac was a Band-Aid,” says Behar. “I could never really relax. But it got me functioning enough so that I wasn’t a sobbing mess. And I told myself that the rest of it, still feeling sad underneath and really anxious and full of rage, that was normal. I thought, ‘I guess this is just motherhood.'”Prozac also brought side effects: insomnia, migraines, nausea, dry mouth, shaking hands. Behar went off it within a few months when her depression began to lift, though she was still anxious and barely sleeping. She was told not to take anti-anxiety medication while breastfeeding. She coped without help for a year, before returning in 2007 to her doctor, who dismissed the issue as “hormones” and prescribed an endless supply of Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Ambien.
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