As most of us already know, reality TV often shows the sheen of someone’s life; not, in fact, the reality. But Bravo’s Ladies of London has pulled back the curtain more than most reality shows ever do — and revealed a group of women who at their core are just women, each dealing with their own personal struggles.
This season, cast member Marissa Hermer has given viewers a raw and brutally honest look at just how postpartum depression affected her life last year. Now, she tells Babble, she’s hoping her story can help others going through the same thing.
After the birth of her third child Sadie in April 2016, viewers watched as Marissa and her restauranteur husband Matt adjusted to life with three kids. It had been an incredibly difficult pregnancy for Marissa, who spent much of it on bedrest after developing placenta accreta (a serious condition that occurs when the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall). Her delivery was risky and potentially life-threatening. Because of her condition, Marissa had a Caesarian at 34 weeks, followed by a hysterectomy. When she was finally in the clear, she initially felt great.
“Immediately after the birth I was on such a high,” Marissa explains to Babble. “For months, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders … so after the birth when we had both made it through, I felt so relieved. I was able to go out of the house without fear of bleeding and miscarrying and felt like I was going to be able to get back to life again. That carried me for a while.”
But then, Sadie was hospitalized with a brief health scare and that euphoric bubble burst.
Suddenly, a show that for the first two seasons focused on the ultra-fabulous lives of six socialites living in London, grew to have a whole lot more weight. Suddenly, fans found themselves crying right alongside Marissa as she dissolved into tears in Matt’s arms — overcome with emotion as her baby lay in the hospital.
Thankfully, Sadie bounced back quickly. But the build-up of emotion and stress over the last year was taking a toll on Marissa. And while she did her best to put a smile on her face, she admits she was starting to unravel. And it was clear to her cast mates (and everyone watching at home these last few weeks) that Marissa wasn’t just tired, she was suffering from postpartum depression.
In Tuesday night’s episode, Marissa travels to Edinburgh, Scotland with the cast, six weeks after having Sadie. In nearly every other scene, Marissa can be seen breaking down into tears, to the surprise of her cast mates. At one point, she pleads with former friend Juliet Angus for a reprieve from their fighting, telling her: “I don’t have any more fight in me, Juliet. I can’t fight with you. You can’t pick at me. I’m not strong enough right now.”
While previous episodes showed some of the girls being hyper-critical of Marissa, they seemed to soften in her time of need.
“I think sometimes people actually need to physically see you having a hard time,” Marissa explains. “I was on the floor in Scotland — my husband had to literally scrape me off the floor and put my pieces back together — and the girls saw this. They started to experience the depression that I had been feeling for a while.”
Later, her husband Matt provides a supportive shoulder to cry on as well as a voice of reason, telling her it’s OK to be sad and encouraging her to rest. “You had a baby six weeks ago,” he says in the episode. “You can’t be Wonder Woman all the time. You are fallible. You are human.”
In an blog post on her website, Marissa describes her experience as being in a “pretty dark hole. My body had been through physical trauma and emotionally I was numb … At the time, I didn’t know what I was feeling. I just knew that I didn’t have any interest in anything – and I certainly didn’t have any fight in me.”
Marissa says she credits her recovery in large part to Matt’s incredible strength and the unending support he shows her every day.
“There is no way I would be where I am now without the support of my husband — on so many levels. He put me back together when I was emotionally broken. At one point in the interview chair on Ladies of London, Matt said that I’m a fighter. Well, he really is too. He fights through the tough moments with grace and I’m so grateful for him.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 8 women experience postpartum depression. For many, they chalk their feelings up to exhaustion (which is certainly a major contributing factor). In Marissa’s case, it took time for her to be diagnosed. Between lack of sleep with having a newborn, the trauma after her surgery, filming a TV show, and a cookbook deadline, she says it was “hard to differentiate if I was just overwhelmed and exhausted or if it was postpartum depression.”
For many others, they resist seeking treatment because they feel shame in admitting that at a time everyone says should be the happiest of their life, they are wracked with profound sadness. Marissa hopes that by sharing her story, she can help lift some of the stigma.
“If you are going through postpartum depression, you are not alone,” Marissa says. “It is so common and it isn’t anything to be ashamed of. You will be okay and your family will be okay — it is a challenge and it does get really rough, but you can get through it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise.”
One of the most important things moms need to remind themselves when they’re struggling is that you really do need to prioritize self-care for the sake of not just yourself, but your whole family. It is impossible to care for someone else as well as you possibly can, if you yourself are suffering beyond recognition.
“If you are a shell of yourself, you actually do zero good as a mother,” says Marissa. “I’ve also learned that babies and kids are so so resilient — a lot more than the moms. So take the time to eat a good meal and let your child have that dirty diaper for another 10 minutes. It isn’t going to be the end of the world for her, but you need to eat!”
Marissa tells Babble that she’s happy to be back to her old self again now and is adjusting to life in Los Angeles, after a recent move. While a doctor initially prescribed her medication to treat her postpartum depression, she says it wasn’t until after a summer spent on the beach with family that she truly started to feel more like her old self.
“I feel great. I mean, I’m tired and I overwhelmed — but in a way that is pretty normal for a mom-of-three [kids] under 5 years old. I definitely feel anxious about how the hell I’m going to do everything I need to do with the allotted time that I have, but I feel like I can handle it. I am genuinely excited about the new adventures ahead and enjoy every morning with our munchkins.”
If you suspect you may be suffering from postpartum depression, please reach out to someone who can help. Call 800-994-4PPD (4773) or visit Postpartum Support International.