The GMA3 contributor reveals what happened the day she live-streamed during a severe anxiety attack
Alicia Quarles has her hands full these days — both of them, at all hours of the day and night.
“Having a baby unexpectedly at 41 is one thing; having twins is a whole other beast,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, opening up about her mental health and difficult journey to motherhood.
The journalist and GMA3 contributor is mom to 3-month-old fraternal twins, son Hudson and daughter Harlow, whom she shares with a former partner who prefers to remain anonymous.
“There’s something to be said about being a mom at this age,” she says “I’m not stressing. The baby’s going to be all right.”
But a year ago, Quarles wasn’t nearly in such a peaceful place. Known for her poise, upbeat personality and knack for getting celebrities to drop their guard during interviews, she gave her family, friends and 105,000 followers a tremendous scare back on August 26, 2022.
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The journalist went live on Instagram from her rummaged-through apartment, frantically revealing she was pregnant while in the midst of an extreme anxiety attack. The livestream ended with police officers trying to enter her apartment to carry out a mental health check. She was later arrested and released to a medical facility.
At the time, “I’d been working three jobs, doing my charity obligations and going nonstop,” says Quarles, who had also just been through a breakup.
“My mental health was deteriorating.” She reveals that just a couple weeks prior to the ordeal, she’d taken herself to the emergency room. “I was feeling afraid,” she recalls. “I’d went to the ER just to see if I was okay.”
On the day of the livestream, she’d also gotten some shocking news. During a routine doctor’s appointment that day, Quarles learned that she was 11 weeks pregnant. Although she’d frozen her eggs two years earlier, she had conceived naturally and the pregnancy took her by complete surprise. “The day I found out I was pregnant it was just a spiral,” she says thinking back. “I don’t remember most of that day but the last thing I remember is the police at my door.
Related: 'GMA3' 's Alicia Quarles Welcomes Twins: See the Adorable First Photos
According to psychotherapist Miriam Barnes, who began treating Quarles in the wake of the incident, “She was overwhelmed and decompensated.” (Quarles has given permission for Barnes to share details from their sessions.) In the journalist’s case, psychiatric decompensation — a personality disturbance resulting from the failure to generate coping mechanisms in response to stress — was likely exacerbated by increased hormone levels from her pregnancy, says Barnes. “Everything just came to more than she could handle at the time.”
Only a week later, Quarles learned that she was expecting twins, but instead of that news adding to her anxiety, “a total peace came over me and it felt like it all made sense,” she says. “It was like, ‘Okay, I went through that to get to this.’ ”
Quarles returned to her family home in North Carolina to focus on her pregnancy and on herself.
“I found out through working on myself in therapy that there were a lot of things I hadn’t dealt with,” she says, noting a previous divorce and the tragic death of her best friend, MTV star Diem Brown in 2014. Despite those past traumas, “I just kept going. Then put hormones on top of that, it was a recipe for disaster that all played out on social media.”
She continues, “I used to feel guilty and embarrassed but I don’t anymore. My message is you can fall down, things happen. It’s how you come back.”
Now, even as she grieves the sudden loss of her mother Terry Linda Quarles, who died of complications from a fall last month, Quarles is focused on the positive. “I truly believe that my babies saved my life,” she says. “If I kept going at the pace I was, I wouldn’t have been here for long.”
For more on Alicia Quarles opening up about her mental health crisis and motherhood journey, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, out Friday.
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Read the original article on People.