Since the death of estranged husband Ric Ocasek last September, Paulina Porizkova has been vocal about the grief process, telling fans in November that “the unexpectedness, the unfairness and unpreparedness of Ric’s death suddenly rendered grief a whole new beast ... it hijacks your body and rides in you.”
This week, the 54-year-old model alluded to the impact that grief has had on her mental health, sharing that she and her doctor agreed that her “current depression needs to be processed rather than medicated ... at least for now.” Commenters responded with countless messages of support, some sharing their own treatment suggestions, both natural and medicinal.
On Thursday, the mother of two — who is writing a memoir — returned to Instagram to elaborate on her experience with mental health, noting that her previous post “seemed to hit a lot of nerves.”
The Czech star revealed that she was diagnosed with a panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder at around age 19, but opted to “white-knuckle” it without medication until her 40s. At that point, Porizkova began taking antidepressants; when she eventually weaned herself off the medication, she began to experience depression.
“Personally, I suffer from panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, and have most of my life,” she shared. “My first panic attack hit me at 10 years old. Until I was diagnosed at about the age of 19, I thought I had a heart condition and was going to die young. I kept it quiet, because I felt undesirable enough. Yes, this is the same time as my first SI [Sports Illustrated] cover and major career events. (And yes, this will be talked about in my memoir). I white-knuckled it until my 40s, when I finally caved and went on antidepressants. I only experienced depression AFTER I weaned off medication.”
She went on to explain why she currently intends to push through without resorting to medicine, and shared her qualms about living in an “over-medicated world” where “everyone would rather pop a pill than do the work.” She added that she’s not totally against using medication, should she feel it necessary. (The pill sandwiched between her teeth in the photo shared with her post is a vitamin D3, she explained.)
“I am so incredibly grateful for modern medicine and that it is available when we truly need it,” Porizkova wrote. “But I also think we are an over-medicated world. Everyone would rather pop a pill than do the work. Including myself. I still have to take a Klonopin every time I go to the airport.
“But the way I see it, a lot of situational depression (depression that comes from events that happens to you) can be your body telling you that you are in a bad spot. You need to move. You need to change. If you medicate that, you will stay in the spot, feeling OK — but to me, that’s not living to your fullest potential.
“If I am in a depression where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I white-knuckle it. If I’m in a depression where I know there is a light, but cannot see it, I still white-knuckle it. If I come to believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel, hand over the pills!”
It’s not the first time Porizkova has spoken openly about using antidepressants. In a 2011 essay for HuffPost, she wrote of turning to Lexapro shortly after being the first contestant to be voted off Dancing with the Stars in 2007. Though she called the time that she took the medication the “two most mellow years of my life,” it also dulled certain senses and negatively impacted her sex life with Ocasek, writing that she felt “as though I was being touched through a barrier, or, in this instance, a thick and cumbersome rug.”
Since sharing her post, Porizkova has connected with commenters relaying their own battles with anxiety and depression, both with the help of meds and without. Kyle Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was among those thanking the model for speaking out.
“I also suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder,” the reality star responded. “I believe being open and honest about it is the first step in feeling better. I ‘joke’ about it as a way of opening up about it and it has helped me tremendously. Thank you for your honesty.”
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