For the first time, actress Hayden Panettiere has shared her secret world that led her to her ‘rock bottom’. We applaud Hayden for bravely opening up about a devastating battle with addiction and depression and her heartbreaking decision involving her daughter, Kaya.
Hayden is a stunning actress and mother. However, for years now, Kaya has lived in Ukraine with her father – former heavyweight boxing champion, Wladimir Klitschko.
It’s been something many outsiders have wondered about and, bravely, Hayden has now shared how and why she came to this difficult decision.
Pills to ‘make me peppy’
Like many child stars, Hayden was thrust into the world of glitz and glamour early on. She was fed ‘happy pills’ at the age of 15 before she walked carpets. Hayden was given them by her team as a way to “make me peppy during interviews”.
I had no idea that this was not an appropriate thing, or what door that would open for me when it came to my addiction.”
Hayden’s career took off with shows like Heroes and Nashville, but so did her reliance on drugs and alcohol. She started using opioids and drinking regularly and admits that drugs and alcohol became “something I almost couldn’t live without”.
Hayden continued to shine on screen but behind closed doors, it was messy.
My saving grace is that I couldn’t be messy while on set and working.
But things kept getting out of control [off set].”
Hayden’s postnatal depression battle
In 2013 Hayden and her partner, Wladimir Klitschko became engaged and welcomed their daughter, Kaya, in 2014. Hayden was able to refrain from using drugs and alcohol during the pregnancy but returned to this lifestyle after Kaya’s birth.
Hayden also experienced extreme postpartum depression, something that amplified her need to self-medicate.
I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn’t want to spend any time with her.
There was just this gray colour in my life.”
‘Hardest thing I’ve had to do’
Hayden continued to struggle. Her relationship crumbled, her hit show, Heroes, ended and although she sought treatment for depression, she also continued to depend on alcohol to get through the day.
I would have the shakes when I woke up and could only function with sipping alcohol. I was on top of the world and I ruined it. I’d think I hit rock bottom, but then there’s that trap door that opens.”
That’s when she made the devastating decision to send Kaya to live with her dad in Ukraine.
In an interview with People, a tearful Hayden elaborates,
I got to go over and see her as much as I wanted, often, but I knew that the best thing that I could do, the hardest thing that I could do, but the best thing that I can do for my daughter, was to make sure that she was okay and take care of myself and make sure I could be, you know, a good mum. And sometimes that means you have to let them go.
She has a beautiful life and she’s an amazing child and she’s smart and she’s funny and she, for whatever reason, still loves me.”
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It was a hospitalisation due to jaundice from alcoholism that led Hayden to sobriety.
She entered a rehabilitation center for eight months to help her with her addiction and is now “grateful to be part of this world” again.
Hayden has returned to the world of acting – as Kirby Reed in the next Scream film – and works with Hoplon International, a charity she founded in March that raises funds for Ukraine.
This hasn’t been easy and there were a lot of ups and downs.
But I don’t regret even the ugliest things that have happened to me. I feel incredibly accomplished. And I feel like I have a second chance.”
If you are concerned about post-natal depression or anxiety, or about someone you love, then speak with your GP or health professional. You can also call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, or your local community or emergency mental health service for advice.
Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) has a Mental Health Checklist online tool that allows expectant and new parents to assess their emotional wellbeing.
Additionally, the websites below may be helpful.
What to read next
- Dad Shares Heartbreak After Losing Partner to Postnatal Depression
- The Truth About Postnatal Psychosis
- Postpartum Anxiety: Is it More Common Than Postnatal Depression?