Actress Brooke Shields revealed just how dangerous a turn her postpartum depression took when she decided to go off her medication cold turkey.
Shields, who first divulged her experience in a 2006 memoir (“Down Came the Rain”), described the scary turn of events in a podcast interview promoting her new two-part documentary for Hulu, “Pretty Baby.”
The “Suddenly Susan” actress said that she had not wanted to take medication when the symptoms first began, shortly after her daughter Rowan’s birth in 2003. Eventually, at the behest of family members and friends, she relented. “It was so bleak. My mother-in-law called me and said I had dead eyes. I finally said OK to get everybody off my back.”
It took nearly a year to find the right medication and for Shields to finally notice some relief. But then she made a mistake — and because she was starting to feel better, she decided without consulting her doctor to stop taking her medication.
“I started just feeling more myself so I went off … because clearly I was a doctor by that point,” Shields admitted with a wry laugh. But she went on to say that it was not long before she realized just how bad an idea that was — during a terrifying drive on California’s 405 freeway.
“I thought I was going to drive my car into the wall on the 405. You see it [happening],” she said, explaining that the depression came with clear visualizations of all the horrible things that might happen. “It has pictures. They rush, if you close your eyes, into your brain.”
Shields recalled that her first instinct was likely what saved her, saying that she had immediately called her doctor from the car. “You’re going back on the medicine immediately,” the doctor told her, and stayed on the phone with the actress until she had safely arrived at home.
Shields famously took criticism from actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise, who suggested that she should have taken some vitamins rather than opting for a prescription — and at the time, she fired right back in a statement: “I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.”