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As public as Britney Spears’ life has been, her new memoir, The Woman in Me, shows just how little her fans truly knew about what she was going through. In its pages, the superstar has opened up about getting an abortion, her past relationships, flings, and breakups, and her struggles with her family and alcohol. The newest revelation Spears is sharing: how being under constant scrutiny affected her mental health after having kids.
As much as Spears loved being a mom — “my boys gave my life meaning,” she wrote, per Self — she acknowledged that “becoming a mother while under so much pressure at home and out in the world was also much, much harder than I expected it would be.”
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She detailed how her “confusion and obsession about their safety” was made more intense as the media attention grew, leading to feelings of depression and loneliness. Spears isolated herself from friends and experienced trust issues, feeling like she was “being watched from every corner.”
Spears believes the experiences contributed to her going through “just about every symptom of perinatal depression,” and later, a “severe” bout of postpartum depression. (Perinatal depression is depression that occurs “during or after pregnancy,” per the National Institute of Mental Health; postpartum depression is a type of depression that occurs after giving birth, with symptoms like “frequent crying, fatigue, guilt, anxiety, and [possibly] trouble caring for their baby,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.)
“Every part of normal life had been stripped from me,” Spears remembers. She didn’t feel able to make “normal mistakes as a new mother of two babies,” or to go out in public “without becoming a headline.” Per Cleveland Clinic, having “limited social support” can increase the risk of experiencing postpartum depression, and Spears, for all her fame, clearly felt isolated and alone. “I didn’t know where to go or what to do,” she wrote.
Spears is choosing to open up about the experience now in order to support to other parents going through similar mental health crises, she explained. “Unfortunately, there wasn’t the same conversation about mental health back then that there is now,” Spears said. “But I hope any new mothers reading this who are having a hard time will get help early and will channel their feelings into something more healing.”
If you or someone close to you is experiencing postpartum or perinatal depression, speak to your doctor ASAP. Therapy and medication can both be used as effective treatment.
Before you go, check out these affordable, effective apps for mental health:
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