Everyone who experiences postpartum depression (PPD)—about 11 percent of new moms in the U.S.—has a very individual experience. For some, it may be more subtle, while others may have debilitating symptoms. For model Kayla Rae Reid, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte's wife, PPD felt like extreme exhaustion and a sense that she was "dead inside," she revealed in a YouTube video this week.
Reid, who says she's had anxiety her "entire life," describes her PPD symptoms as both mental and physical.
Reid, who gave birth to her son Caiden (now 11 months old) in June 2017 says that she realized she was feeling off about three months after welcoming her son. "I felt like utter crap constantly. That was one thing [where] I was like, 'This can't be right. I feel like death,'" she says in the video.
She recalls feeling freezing despite having a normal temperature and finding everything overwhelming and tiring. "I was so exhausted to the point where I just wanted to sleep all day long. I did not want to wake up," she says. "I'd go back to bed and just lay there. That was really sad because I'm not like that," Reid continues, describing herself as normally a very energetic person with a full to-do list.
"I also was just questioning my life I guess," she says, recalling a moment when she asked her grandmother to watch her baby and went to the grocery store for some fresh air and alone time. "I ordered a sandwich and sat down and [thought] to myself, 'Is this truly what life is? Is this what life is like? Does everyone feel like this?'" she says. "I just was so envious of every single person in the grocery store thinking, 'Man, I wish I was them.' I don't even know why, but I felt like they were living the life and I was on pause. I was dead inside."
On top of all that, Reid says she felt guilty for feeling the way she did. "Here I was struggling with my own issues, and there are women who can't have children, who have a hard time getting pregnant, or have babies that are unfortunately in the NICU. 'Look at me sitting here being depressed and not wanting to live my life,'" she says. "I had a healthy baby and pregnancy, I have a husband, supportive family, all these things to be thankful for—and I felt really bad. I felt disappointed in myself that I was dealing with my postpartum."
Although she still doesn't feel like she's "overcome" her PPD, Reid says she has found medication, online support groups, and hiring a personal trainer helpful in managing her symptoms.
"I did my research, talked to my doctor, and he prescribed me Zoloft, which I'm still currently on," she says, explaining that it doesn't make her feel like "a zombie." Instead, she finds that it actually makes her feel more motivated to do things like work out and helps her get good sleep. Although she says she tried to wean herself off the medication before filming her video, "I felt myself slipping back," she says. "I just hate the stigma about someone being medicated, I think that's really heartbreaking."
She also credits an anonymous PPD online support group with making her feel less alone and helping her accept what she was going through. After spending a night reading and talking to other people on the forum, Reid says she ran and told her grandmother, "I have PPD." And her grandmother responded, "I know. It's OK. We can get through this, it's not the end of the world, people survive this. But now you know."
Reid says fitness also helped her feel better, but she needed to get a trainer "because I could not get my ass up. I was so in my sunken hole that I didn't even want to leave the house," she says. "I just felt like a bump on a log for sure."
But, after three months of medication and working out with a trainer, Reid says she began to see a change.
If you're feeling any symptoms of postpartum depression, it's important to talk with your doctor to figure out the best treatment approach for you.
That may include some sort of counseling or talk therapy and/or medication, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. But, as Reid's story illustrates, the symptoms may not obvious, so it's especially important to be aware of your body and what is (and isn't) normal for you.
"Postpartum is very real. It's very hard for me to put my words together because it makes me very uncomfortable to discuss," Reid wrote in the caption for the video. "PPD comes in so many different forms and everyone deals with theirs differently. I wanted to share a few key memories and things that have helped a lot along the way. It's very hard to be open about something so personal and hard to admit. By sharing my story my hope is that we can continue more conversations and not be so afraid of this dark disease."