‘I’m Getting Better’: Melissa Rycroft Talks Postpartum Depression, Daughter Ava and New Reality Show (EXCLUSIVE)

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Melissa's Battle
Melissa Rycroft reveals she's battling postpartum depression.
After a somewhat bumpy — not to mention very-public — beginning, Melissa Rycroft has otherwise had a fairytale experience of-sorts in her few years in Hollywood.

From season 13 of The Bachelor, in which she was infamously dumped on live television, by Jason Mesnick, to stints on Dancing With the Stars and Good Morning America, and her new reality CMT reality series, Melissa & Tye, the 29-year-old from Texas has battled the odds to become one of the most successful — and nicest! — celebrities in the business.

In preparation of her new show, which follows Melissa as she juggles a long-distance relationship with her husband, Tye Strickland — and their one-year-old daughter, Ava Grace — Celebuzz spoke exclusively to the star about jumping back into reality TV, postpartum depression, her daughter’s first words and what she’s learned in her first two years of marriage, after tying the knot with her hubby in December 2009. Click on to read the Q&A.

How did the show initially present itself to you?
[Doing a reality show] was something that has been presented to Tye and I since we got together. It was just never really the right time. Lord knows I’ve done enough reality TV, and I was not interested in having cameras follow my life around until I was at the right place. Tye and I now have two years of marriage under our belt, and six years of dating. We had the baby, and I just felt it was the right time. The cards were aligned; the partnership were great. CMT and [Ryan] Seacrest, for us, were the perfect fit. It fit this time.

What did you learn from your experience on The Bachelor that you applied to Melissa & Tye?
Well, nothing! This is the first reality show I’ve done where I’m not competing for a boy or a Mirrorball Trophy. [Laughs] It’s a whole different realm of reality. I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned from all of them is, make it as real as you want. Be yourself. I know so many people blame things on editing or things being taken out of context, but you are who you are, and I feel like you represent the best you that you can and hope everybody understands it. There’s gonna be scrutiny coming out of it. ‘The Bachelor’ wasn’t bad, looking back on it. It was terrible at the time, but I feel like I represented who I was pretty well and gave everybody a good insight as to who I really was.

Your daughter, Ava Grace, just turned one. How is she doing?
She’s doing really, really well. She’s got a mouth full of teeth and is talking up a storm. She’s walking. She’s become this little person overnight.

Has she said her first word yet?
She’s been saying “Mama” and “Dada.” She actually said “mall” the other day, which shocking, since I’m taking her shopping again [right now]. I wonder where she gets that! [Laughs] She’s got quite a little vocabulary. That makes me nervous. [Laughs]

Is every day a new experience with her?
Absolutely. I feel like kids are given to you just when you think you’ve got everything in life figured out. All the cards are in place, you feel like you’ve finally got a grasp on things, and these little kiddos come in and turn your world upside-sown. They become the boss of the household, and the boss of the family. It’s just like you’re rearranging your daily life to get by sometimes. It’s wonderful, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s also the hardest, craziest thing that I’ve ever done. You’ve definitely got bumps in the road when you get kids.

You’ve been married for two years now. What have you learned about yourself — and about Tye — in that time?
I’ve learned that Tye is my ultimate stability. We’ve been through some tough things in the past, obviously, dating. But getting married and then having Ava so quickly — I mean, we were only married for seven months before we got pregnant — it turned things really upside-down for me. Then, obviously, I dealt with a little postpartum [depression]. Tye was a lot stronger, I think, than I gave him credit for. He’s definitely the backbone of the family, and he stepped up to the plate when things got shaky. I learned I’m pretty resilient. Life keeps coming at me, and knocking me curveballs, and turning things upside-down, and keep landing on our feet!

Has doing the reality show brought you closer together?
It’s definitely fun working with your husband. Because long-distance is a real issue that we’re dealing with right now, it has been nice filming, because it’s an excuse that Tye has to be here. It’s fun, because we kind of just get to be ourselves and be goofy. When the cameras go off, I love that we’re still us. I think this whole thing has brought us closer together.

I read your piece about having postpartum depression in US Weekly, which was very well-written. Is it still an everyday struggle for you? Are you getting better?
I’m getting better. It’s taken a lot longer than I had heard it would. I’ve been very reluctant and everything: I hadn’t wanted to do medication; it’s taken me a year now to even talk about it. A lot of that is, there’s probably some denial in my head. It’s a diagnosis that, first of all, a lot of people don’t even believe in, and those who do believe in it associate it with people like Andrea Yates. So, it’s a hard thing to wrap around, going, “Okay, maybe there is something going on that I can’t help, and I’m not in the category of the Andrea Yateses of the world.” But I’m getting there. I definitely feel much, much better. I’m not 100 percent, but I feel better.

You closed your piece by saying you want to wait until you are “100 percent healthy and back to my best emotional state” to have more kids. With that said, is the topic still in the discussion with you and Tye?
It is. I mean, I have to say, I don’t have that itch yet. I don’t have that craving. A couple of my friends have had babies, and I’ll hold them and I don’t get that, “Oh, I want one!” feeling. To be honest, I have been so off my kilter for so long now that I do want to get emotionally back to where I was before I mess up all the hormones again. [Laughs] It’s in discussion, but not anytime soon.

In the meantime, you have the show!
It’s another little baby! [Laughs]

You’re a wife, a mother and a TV star. Did you ever think back when you were, say, 16 or 18 years old, that you’d be where you are now, at 29?
No! Absolutely not … I got nominated [for The Bachelor] by a friend, because I was struggling over my breakup with Tye. I literally did it because I needed to get out of Dallas; I needed to find something else to focus on. After The Bachelor, I went back to my little cubicle and I was prepared to start life all over again. And then the call from Dancing came, and it just turned everything around. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I thought about it. I did turn it down at first. But then, I went, “You know what? My cubicle will be here in 20 years. Dancing With the Stars and this world out in LA will not.” And so I’ve jumped on it. Even when I look back oat the ride, it’s not believable. I don’t feel like you could have written a story and made it believable, because it’s crazy. I don’t know who this happens to, I don’t know why it’s happened [to me], but I’m enjoying it! [Laughs]

Have you seen the show yet — and if so, seen anything that’s surprised you about yourself?
We’ve seen two of the episodes. I’ve already seen things that I’m completely humiliated by, and mortified that my parents are gonna see and Tye’s parents are going to see. Peeing on the side of the road is not my shining moment, and it’s one of those that I regret forgetting the cameras were there [when I did it]. I’m really kind of scared to see the rest of it and see the other moments that I’ve forgotten about. But at the same time, we’ve got the best home movies around, so I don’t regret any of it!

Catch Melissa & Tye when it premieres this Friday, April 20, at 9:30PM.