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Pretty Little Liars Star Hid Her Battle with Serious Anxiety Disorder for Years

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The birth of a child is usually one of the most magical times in a person’s life, but for Tammin Sursok, it caused extreme fear, sadness and overwhelming emotions. The Pretty Little Liars star explained, “I remember not being able to swallow. Not being able to eat. Not being able to cry. Not being able to breathe. Just not being ‘able.'”

The 33-year-old actress gave birth to daughter Phoenix Emmanuel in 2013 with husband Sean McEwen, and while she was completely in love with the little baby, she knew something was wrong. Tammin finally told her mom that she needed help and went to a doctor who diagnosed her with postpartum anxiety.

“After six months of trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’ with me, trying to boil it down to ‘just hormones’ and ‘just sleep deprivation’ and ‘just life adjustments,’ I was officially branded by two words,” she explained in her raw, emotional essay. “I was handed some pale yellow pills, told it was common and sent on my merry ‘just been diagnosed with a mental illness’ way. As I arrived home I remember staring at the medication in the palm of my hands and it triggering a complete panic attack. I lost my balance, as the room started to spin, with the almost cartoon like voices yelling ‘failure, faulty, imperfect, let down.’ My breathing labored and I almost passed out. I hysterically threw the medication in the bin (which I’m now sure would have helped me greatly) and never did end up taking them. Ironically, I wondered, if I didn’t help myself, was I more of a failure??”

Tammin was eventually able to heal herself through “meditation, yoga, therapy, mindfulness, prayer, nutrition and reading and connecting with others who had been through the same experience.”

While the celebrity is now mentally, physically and emotionally healed, she still has “fear for the next child,” but wants women to know that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

“Asking for help, especially in regards to motherhood, is often seen as self trivialization and weakness, so on goes the perpetual cycle of fear, loneliness and guilt. […] As mothers, women, parents and caregivers, we need to break the stigma. Lives are being lost. We need to speak up about our tales of sadness and hope and joy. We are no lesser because of it and only through heartache comes true resilience. And not to sound trite, but ‘we need to be the change we want to see in the world’ and it all starts with us.”

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