AceShowbiz - Actress Alyssa Milano has opened up about her struggles with anxiety and postpartum depression for Mental Health Awareness Month.
The former Charmed star explains an anxiety disorder "most likely triggered by postpartum depression" led to a secret battle with mental illness that took over her life and sent her to hospital begging for psychiatric help.
"In 2011, two years after suffering a miscarriage, I learned that I was pregnant with my first son, Milo - and it was a dream," she writes in an article for Time.com. "My miscarriage was heartbreaking, but this pregnancy was beautiful...".
"Following this idyllic image of motherhood, I wrote a strict birth plan: no induction of labor, no pain medication and no c-sections," she continues. "I equated a natural birth to my value as a woman and as a mother - and I was determined not to stray from that course".
However, Alyssa began to experience complications days before her due date and had to be induced for a C-section. The actress was left in "excruciating pain" from the surgery and suffered her first anxiety attack when she returned home from the hospital. Milano then had another attack when her son "spiked a very high fever and had a febrile seizure" in her arms.
Her condition continued to worsen when she returned to work, fearing something could happen to Milo while he was in the care of someone else, and so she checked into a mental health facility.
"Finally, I hit a wall," she adds. "One early morning, I went to the emergency room... and asked for a psychiatrist and got help. I felt as though I had no choice. I asked to be committed; I stayed in a public psychiatric ward for three days".
"At last, I began to feel as if my pain was recognized, but it wasn't easy...," she continues. "But throughout this process, I also found angels - including my psychiatrist and my therapist. They convinced me that I had the bravery to face my illness, the value to seek help and the strength to recover...".
And now she is hoping her big reveal will help others speak up about mental health issues.
"Let's demand that our lawmakers pass policies that open - not restrict - our access to mental health services," she writes. "Let's remind each other that no one should have to face these challenges by themselves...".