Exclusive: Peggy from The Real Housewives of Orange County Opens Up About Her Postpartum Depression

Peggy Tanous, the 41-year-old blond beauty from this season’s The Real Housewives of Orange County, had a glamorous career as a model before becoming a stay-at-home-mom to two girls, London, 3, and Capri, 1 1/2. Now she's opening up about a very real and not-so-glamorous aspect of her life: suffering with postpartum depression (PPD). We asked Peggy more about her experience and her healing process:

Why do you feel so passionately about “coming out” with PPD on national television?

Now that I feel normal again, I want everyone to know. I want to start an organization of my own. The show has so much drama already; we need to be using it for something other than drama.

You talk about how hard it was giving up your career. Some research says this sudden shift can contribute to PPD. Was this true for you?
My whole life, I wanted to be a mom. My mom was a full-time mom, and I remember being thankful she was there for us. So it was weird that I felt this way. Once I was home, I started missing the traveling and being in the shows. I was missing the adult interaction.

You talking about a gun was a poignant moment, and shows how real PPD is. Can you talk more about how you felt at that moment?
I hope people don’t get freaked out by that, but it’s true. Those were true feelings of mine: I can’t take this, I don’t know how to get out of this. I felt trapped, like I was in a box and there was no way to get out. I was a full-time model, I was used to traveling all the time, and all of a sudden I'm on the floor playing with Play-Doh and dolls and have this baby depending on me. I want to take care of this baby, but I can’t do it. So I called my sister and said, “I honestly had feelings of grabbing a gun today.” The rest of my family didn’t even know.

Your husband came on the show talking about how he wanted to do anything he could to "fix it." What was his role in you getting better?
I'm so blessed because my husband is a complete hands-on dad. Women need to ask their husbands for more help, even if it's just, ‘Hey hon, why don’t you get off work an hour early, so I can go to the gym for an hour?’ Micah was very helpful. He’d tell me to have girls lunches or he’d say, ‘I will just come home from work and have a two-hour lunch.’ I'm lucky to have a mother-in-law who is a naturopathic practitioner and homeopathist. People need to ask for help and get their families involved.

How did you actually heal?
I first started using SAMe, and that helped in the beginning. Then ... I started taking 5-HTP and that was amazing, and then I added theanine. [IVillage note: Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements.]

It’s normal for all moms to feel overwhelmed, but it’s not normal to want to grab a gun. The doctor said, ‘I want to put you on medication.’ I'm not against it, but I didn't take it because I don’t want to just make it go away but not get to the core of it.

Micah and I started going to weekly therapy together for a month, then I continued on my own. In therapy, we talked about my family background and my pregnancies. I still do therapy once a month.

Also, exercise definitely helps. I started making myself go on walks; every day I said, ‘It’s my job to walk to the park and back.’ It also helped me to have a sitter come over so I could sleep. Writing in journals helps a lot. [Another thing that] really helped me was Brooke Shields’ book [Down Came the Rain]. Here is an amazing woman who truly has everything, and she was feeling the same way I was feeling.

Why did you decide to have a second child while you were still struggling with PPD from the first?
We both always knew we wanted two kids, and when I had London, I didn’t know I had postpartum until she was a year old. I didn’t want to be too old, and I didn’t want them being too far apart. I thought it would take longer than it did to get pregnant again. I did panic at the beginning of my pregnancy with Capri, but we upped my doses: I started taking two 5-HTPs a day instead of one, and fish oil. I did have dark days where I was overwhelmed, but London is the easiest child you could have.

Did it get better -- or worse -- after Capri arrived?
When Capri was born, I was in a better place. She had colic, but I was to the point where I was, 'OK, I can do this.' I also didn’t beat myself up. The little things didn’t matter so much; we weren’t running to the doctor for every little thing. I also learned to enjoy being home. With London, I thought I had to do something outside the home to not be depressed. I was so excited to hold her -- and to have her -- and didn’t want her out of my sight. The postpartum never really left, but it was better to a degree.

The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Bravo. Peggy would love to hear from you via Facebook, her Web site peggytanous.com or Twitter, @peggytanous.

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