Nashville star Hayden Panettiere walked her first red carpet at last night’s Critics’ Choice Awards since undergoing treatment for postnatal depression. The actress looked glowing and happy, and opened up about her decision to speak candidly about the topic to the public.
“It feels different for me because of things that I’ve gone through recently, over the last year,” she told People. “I’ve really gone, ‘You know what, I’ve been in this industry for so long, forget it!’ I’ve been hiding myself. Just putting out the smiling face, showing people this, and allowing that veil to come down — it’s like a weight off my shoulders.”
“I’m 26 years old. I’m a mom. I don’t need to be afraid of what people are going to think. I saw how much people rallied behind me when I was honest, and I didn’t know that honesty could be such a gift.”
Panettiere was indeed widely praised for her openness regarding her decision to seek treatment after the birth of her daughter Kaya, as she said she lamented the fact that this type of depression is often so misunderstood, by women and the people around them.
“Women get brushed off but it’s something that’s completely uncontrollable. It’s really painful, and it’s really scary and women need a lot of support,” she said at the time.
However, more public figures are bringing the conversation into the mainstream again; fellow actress Drew Barrymore also spoke of going through a similar situation last year.
Sunday night marked Panettiere’s first US red carpet appearance since entering treatment in October, and the actress says she enjoyed walking in front of the cameras “so much more because I don’t feel like I have to hide anymore.”
She added that she felt “extremely scared” following her first daughter’s birth but said that talking about this fear openly has helped her through the struggle.
She also said that she has used her own personal journey to address the stigma surrounding postnatal depression, while mentioning that “there is no overcoming” the often negative sentiment associated with it.
“The only important thing to me is that I’m not causing myself pain and discomfort anymore, and I can be a strong woman for my daughter to look up to,” she continued. “It would horrible for me to be going, ‘You can be whomever you want! You can do whatever you want in life!’ yet I was unable to follow the same words.”
And one of the best parts about her own journey, she says, is that she can encourage other women to (hopefully) take the same positive route.
“I’m really happy that I can stand up for the women who are out there suffering from this and let them know it’s okay. They’re not alone. It doesn’t mean they’re weak. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad mom. It doesn’t mean they’re strange. They can get help if they need it, and that’s okay.”
They are some pretty inspiring words.
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