Having suffered severe postpartum depression and anxiety after the 2014 birth of her daughter, Charlotte, it has been something of a personal mission for Rebecca Budig to keep an open conversation going about the mental health issue that impacts so many new mothers. On the most recent episode of State Of Mind, the soap-hopper was an open book as she chatted with host Maurice Benard (Sonny, GENERAL HOSPITAL) about her personal journey and how she grappled with very dark thoughts when her daughter was a newborn.
Best known for her roles as GUIDING LIGHT’s Michelle, ALL MY CHILDREN’s Greenlee, and GH’s Hayden, Budig confessed that she never had any issues prior to Charlotte’s birth. “You don’t have to have suffered from depression for it to develop. I had both depression and… extreme anxiety,” she explained, adding that there were days when she working at GH when she would go home in between scenes just to lay eyes on her daughter. “I would do my first set of scenes, I would throw my clothes on, race home just to see her, only have like 10 minutes, and race back to work.”
Thinking back to how her postpartum depression began, Budig said that the “enormous” pressure she felt to breastfeed Charlotte, coupled with a lack of a support system around her, was daunting. “She wasn’t gaining enough so I wasn’t producing enough, so I just went down a rabbit hole. I can’t even give her this,” she recalled. “I didn’t take any motherhood classes; I think that contributed to it as well. Not knowing what to do, not knowing how to handle this baby. I was kind of alone. I had my husband, but I didn’t have my mom because she couldn’t fly, I didn’t have my sisters because they had kids. So I didn’t have a tribe of people around me. I didn’t have anyone taking care of me in that way.”
Charlotte was born in September; by December, Budig knew something was wrong. “I didn’t feel like myself,” she shared. Thankfully, her therapist recommended a psychiatrist who specialized in postpartum issues, and she began treatment. But it was a long road before Budig felt like she was coming through the other side. “Pervasive sadness… not feeling like a good parent. Internalizing her crying. It was up and down. Sometimes it was worse than others. I tried medication, and it really exacerbated it. I remember the week I first took it, I just really wanted to kill myself.”
Eventually, weekly visits with an acupuncturist who specialized in fertility issues gave Budig the greatest solace. “[Charlotte] was like 3-and-a-half, four, by the time it started to dissipate. People don’t realize it can last that long. It was a really hard time.”
Looking back, Budig confessed that she wished she could experience the early days of motherhood with another child since her first experience with Charlotte was so clouded. “It’s very shameful… because it’s supposed to be the best time of your life.”