Gwyneth Paltrow, Bryce Dallas Howard on Their Dark Postpartum Days

On her GOOP website, Paltrow and theEclipse star share harrowing insights about depression

Postpartum depression is not easy for any woman who has endured it to talk about. Now, two of Hollywood's leading ladies, Gwyneth Paltrow and Eclipse star Bryce Dallas Howard are opening up about their personal experiences with the often misunderstood illness.

"When my son, Moses, came into the world in 2006, I expected to have another period of euphoria following his birth, much the way I had when my daughter (Apple) was born two years earlier," Paltrow, 37, writes in a newsletter from her website, referring to her struggles after giving birth to her second child. "Instead I was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life. For about five months I had, what I can see in hindsight as postnatal depression, and since that time, I have wanted to know more about it."

In the same newsletter, 29-year-old Howard, who found out she was pregnant just five days after her 2006 wedding to Seth Gabel, talks candidly about her harrowing days with PPD. The Eclipse star, who admits she hardly remembers giving birth to son Theo in 2007, says, "In those moments after giving birth, I felt nothing." 

Howarsays that at first she could only refer to her son as "it" and that "breast-feeding was even more painful than giving birth." She adds that even after talking with a lactation consultant, "I felt incompetent. I refused to give up, forcing myself to do everything possible so that my son would consume only my breast milk with no supplementation. I forged on, barely sleeping, always either breastfeeding or pumping and never getting the hang of it. Occasionally I drifted off for a few minutes, but that decision to "feed at all costs" left me no room for recovery, no space to explore my feelings, no time to rest." 

"I definitely felt I was a rotten mother -- not a bad one, a rotten one," Howard writes, adding, "Because the truth was, every time I looked at my son, I wanted to disappear." Luckily, she didn't disappear and found help after the PPD put a strain on her marriage. She explains, "My husband began shooting a television series, and late evenings when he returned home, I would meet him at the door, shaking with fury. He would ask what he could do to help, but knowing there was nothing he could do, I screamed expletives at him, behavior he had never experienced in the seven years we had been together."

After nearly a year and a half of suffering PPD, Howard, with the help of her husband,  friends and family, started seeing a therapist and went through a "critical shift" when filming a movie in which she played a woman with insane delusions. Howard also cites Brooke Shields' book Down Came the Rain about her experience with PPD a "revelation" with her own recovery.

The actress (daughter of Ron Howard), concluded, "Postpartum depression is hard to describe -- the way the body and mind and spirit fracture and crumble in the wake of what most believe should be a celebratory time. Do I wish I had never endured postpartum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am. I still mourn the loss of what could have been, but I also feel deep gratitude for those who stood by me, for the lesson that we must never be afraid to ask for help."

Have you, or someone you loved, ever suffered postpartum depression? Chime in below.

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