Lake Bell is getting candid about her mental health in the aftermath of her traumatic birth experiences.
The actress, 40, recently appeared on an episode of The Conversation with Amanda De Cadenet podcast, in which she revealed that she had briefly suffered depression after welcoming her second child, son Ozgood a.k.a. “Ozzi”, in May 2017.
Bell — who has been outspoken about the impact of her son and daughter Nova’s similar, yet traumatic home births — said she was initially against taking medication, due to her very “holistic” life, but ultimately decided to take it after coming to terms with how much she was struggling.
“I had never felt that before,” she explained. “My heart aches for those who feel that through the hardship of their life every day, like, I have felt it. I know what it is and it’s a monster. It’s a demon.”
“I had gone through life not understanding medication at all, not being on board,” Bell admitted. “I would think of it as something that was the last resort, as opposed to the first…”
“My judgment came from living a holistic life and very wellness-centric life and, ‘I only take Advil if it’s absolutely necessary,’” she continued. “It’s the organic f— kumbaya way of living, very new age.”
Bell first began to spiral downward in the days and weeks after welcoming Ozzi. Her son was born with his umbilical cord around his neck, which cut off his oxygen flow, and required him to spend 11 days in the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ NICU.
“We didn’t know whether he would be alive or walk or talk,” the mother of two admitted of her mental state at the time. “I was like, ‘I need something, I can’t be a person. I don’t know how to be… I had a little daughter too so I was like, ‘I gotta be a person and I don’t know how to find that!’”
It wasn’t until one night where Bell recalled how she was “swirling with dark space” in the room she gave birth to Ozzi in. Her then-2½-year-old daughter sensed her mother’s internal demons, prompting the star to take control finally of her mental health.
“I remember my daughter saying at one point… ‘Go away, monster, you go away!’ and I was like, ‘What? Are you okay? Is there a monster here?’ and she said, ‘He’s still here. Go away monster. You can’t play here!’” she shared.
“I know what she’s talking about,” Bell admitted on the podcast of her daughter’s reaction. “She feels like I’m not ‘normal mommy.’ She feels like there’s a f— demon in the goddamn room and she wants it to get the f— away. It was a feeling of a little person being very intuitive to there being a cloud of darkness here and she was trying to get it away.”
After that night, Bell said she “begged” for medication to improve “my own well-being and for my family’s well-being,” and was prescribed to a very low dose of Zoloft.
“It took me to a place where I could be. I could just be,” she said. “It was rational. I needed to just be Lake and I felt, finally like, I could breathe the air that Lake breaths, not like some other person that I don’t recognize.”
The actress, who revealed she was on Zoloft for a year before tapering off, also admitted to feeling guilty for not initially listening to her body before she delivered her son, who came out at a whopping 11 lbs.
“I had a lot of cues that I was too big to birth at home but the midwife was not available to make that call and I felt let down for sure,” she said, before noting that taking medication and seeking professional help from therapists should not be looked down upon for those who are struggling.
“I think parents, we really are in it together,” she said on the podcast.
This wasn’t the first time that Bell discussed feeling guilt and experiencing depression after Ozzi’s birth.
In July, the actress Bell opened up about the “most egregious up and down of [her] entire life” and revealed that taking medication helped her cope with the many emotions she was feeling at the time.
“I took [the guilt] on because I insisted on having a home birth. I’ve dealt with that since. You could blame the midwife, you could blame yourself, but ultimately the result is the only thing that matters,” she said. “I’ve gone through therapy and was medicated for a year-and-a-half. I did wean myself off but I was on antidepressants to help kind of regulate. I barely take Advil but I was like, this is absolutely imperative in order for me to function.”