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Mena Suvari speaks openly about the effects of a caesarean section. (Photo: Rachel Luna/FilmMagic)
Mena Suvari says she has battled postpartum depression "every day" since giving birth to her 1-year-old son Christopher.
In a new interview on the Broad Ideas podcast with Rachel Bilson, the 43-year-old actress opened up about dealing with anxiety from a young age and how it's taken more form since motherhood.
"I try not to hide much anymore," the American beauty actress explained of her willingness to speak openly about her struggles. "If I could relieve someone's suffering, I would like to do it. I'm more than willing to be that person because it breaks my heart to ever...think about someone else going through a lot of what I've been through, so it kind of makes sense to cave in. This is how I live my life.
"This old lady just doesn't want to play games anymore," she added. "We need to talk about these things."
In her 2021 memoir The Great Peace, Suvari writes about surviving sexual abuse at age 12 and overcoming drug addiction as a young actress in Hollywood. Writing the book, she said, was cathartic and helped her cope with much of that old pain.
"The mindset I was in when I was 12, all the little things that happened to me as a very young person, I think it creates a mindset," she explained. "I have memories of feeling alone. very alone That nobody would ever ask [if I was okay], nobody would ever really care, nobody would ever really do anything, and that's how I just learned to do everything on my own - and that's why nobody noticed. I became very good at doing what was asked of me.”
Recalling Christopher's delivery, Suvari says she spent "24 hours at home" and "24 hours in the hospital" in labor. At one point, the hospital gave her an epidural, which "they had to do again."
She ended up having an emergency c-section.
"I still feel like I can leave some room to be sad that I didn't have [a vaginal] birth," she explained, noting that she hopes speaking out about those feelings can help other women to normalize. "I just want to make that space a little bit bigger for people because it's not fair to just say, 'But you're fine, right?' 'But you didn't die.' 'But your baby is fine. '"
Still, the actress says striving for a healthier attitude is a daily chore.
"I struggle with childbirth every day," she says, later clarifying that she's referring to "postpartum depression." She adds: "All I'm doing next month is testing my hormones, so yeah, it's all very real. I deal with it every day, how do I navigate this space?”
Working with a postpartum doula to help her understand her feelings so she can better manage them, Suvari recalled a moment when she realized the extent of her pain.
"I remember sitting on our balcony and freaking out and saying, 'I have to get out of the house. I have to get out of the house,'" she recalled. "My husband said, 'You can go. You can go for a walk,' and I said, 'But I didn't think I could.' I freaked out. I thought I had to do something for myself, but I can't go. I had to learn [to let go].
"I'm still struggling with that," she continued, "not having to be in [my son's] face 24/7 to raise a good person because of my anxiety." It's a lot of work.”
Now Suvari is hoping she can help other moms who may not understand their own struggles either.
"I don't want to sugarcoat it anymore," she said. "I want to help others. I don't think it suits anyone for me to sit here and behave perfectly... especially in this day and age... We're all trying to survive and do our best and we have to help each other."
The actress has opened up in the past about how she dealt with struggles — particularly the sexual trauma she faced as a young girl.
"Everyone raved about how I looked when I was 18. But I was 12," she recalled to The Guardian in July of her childhood. "What I was told was that I'm an adult, so I can act like an adult."
Writing these experiences in her memoir, she added, allowed her to see the damage that had been done.
"I had to express myself. I had to clean that up to be able to move on...I really wanted to let it go," she said of the writing process. "I think the biggest thing is that I felt like I wasn't allowed to look at a lot of those moments as abuse or trauma because I always apologized for it. That's a big part of surviving - I had to learn how many things served me then, and they don't have to serve me anymore. I feel like things never really go away, you just gain a new perspective on them and a new patience for yourself and more compassion.
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Mena Suvari
American actress, fashion designer, model

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