Nikki Bella Says Postpartum Depression Made Her 'Hate' Fiancé Artem Chigvintsev

Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev
Matt Winkelmeyer/KCASports2019/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

The couple welcomed a son, Matteo, in July.

Nikki Bella has been struggling since welcoming her son, Matteo. On the latest episode of The Bellas Podcast, Nikki opens up to her twin, Brie Bella, about the "massive breakdown" she recently had.

The breakdown, which came seven weeks after she gave birth to her first child, was a result of moving out of her home in Arizona, stressing about filming her reality show, Total Bellas, and her fiancé, Artem Chigvintsev, being away to compete on Dancing With the Stars with former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe. It was only after Brie asked a simple question that the reality of the situation hit Nikki.

"I think Brie was the first person who’s asked me in weeks... she goes, 'How are you doing?' I was about to say, 'Fine,' and my lips started shaking and I burst into alligator tears. Like, I broke down," she said. "Because that was the first time someone asked me in a while how I was doing, and I wasn’t doing OK."

Nikki said she just "couldn't do it anymore," adding that she "broke down because I refused to ask for help."

"The past few weeks have been tough. And not just having Matteo mostly by myself and doing it all on my own, there's so many other things," she said. "And it's crazy because I am very prideful. I'm competitive. I love being the best. I want to be number one. My whole life I've been an athlete, so I realized I've taken that mentality as being a mom. So it's like, 'Do it like an athlete.' No you can't do it that way at all."

That realization led her to have a "very serious" conversation with her doctor, which confirmed that she was "starting to fall into a postpartum depression."

"I didn’t realize at week seven, you kind of come out of your baby blues and… you go two different paths," she said. "You go the path of being healthy, or you go down the path of being depressed. That depression path can be a really dark, deep hole."

A large part of her depression was due to the fact that she began "to feel invisible."

"Artem would come home, he'd be distracted -- and it's not even his fault, men don't know, dads don't know -- but he'd come and be like, 'How's the baby? How's Matteo? I miss him. Let me hold him. Let me kiss him,'" she explained. "And as the woman, as the mom, you stand there and you're like, 'What about me? I want someone to come home and ask me how I'm doing and kiss me all over and swaddle me up and rock me and tell me how much you missed me. It started to really get to me."

"I just started to really feel invisible the last few weeks. And then I'd watch him the past two weeks on Dancing With the Stars and it was like, he's so happy and smiley and Kaitlyn's so beautiful and they dance so amazing together," Nikki continued. "And then I would just look in the mirror... and I just would see my appearance and I'd be like, 'Oh my gosh, I look disgusting. I don't feel good. I'm so tired. I want to be up there and I want to look like that and I want to dance like that and I want that smile.'"

Nikki was nervous to express how she felt to Artem, as she wanted to be the "perfect fiancée" and "be supportive" of his quest for the mirrorball. In the end, though, she did open up to her fiancé.

"I’ve always prided myself that I can fight a lot of things mentally. I’m very strong in that way," she said. "Postpartum has knocked me on my a**. This is something that is way different."

The talk with Artem went "really well," and actually left Nikki feeling badly for him.

"It made him feel terrible and then he's like, 'I wish you came to me sooner... I could tell at times, I felt like you were starting to hate me... You could be mean,'" she recalled. "And I’m not gonna lie, I did have moments of being mean. But I did have moments when I looked at him and I hated him... It’s true. There were times I’d look at him and I'm like, 'I think I hate you.'"

"I opened up to him about it," Nikki continued. "He was just so sad [about] the fact that I was feeling all these things and I never told him." 

As for how Artem felt about the conversation, he shared on the podcast that he wanted to figure out where Nikki's feeling of hate came from.

"We need to talk and we need to figure it out," he said. "Because obviously I love Nicole to death and I would never want her to feel hate towards me whatsoever." 

Despite his best efforts, Nikki said that her and Artem's love languages are very different, which made it hard to understand what the other needed.

"Artem, he just thought coming home and cooking for me and doing the dishes and picking up groceries, or coming home with my favorite peanut butter pretzels, that was his way of saying, 'How are you doing? I care about you. I need you,'" she said. "I need the affirmations. I need to hear it. I need to be told every day, 'I love you. You look beautiful.' Especially when I don't feel it, I need to hear it from him. Especially when he's dancing with a beautiful woman and they're having a ton of fun, I really need to hear it."

Watch the video below for more on Nikki and Artem.