My Secret to Calming Myself When I’m About to Lose It. Like *Really* Lose It.

My Secret to Calming Myself When I'm About to Lose It






Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk.

That’s the sound of my clothes dryer.

It’s also the sound that soothes my mind and prevents me from losing my shit on my kids.

Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk.

A somewhat less-known aspect of dealing with depression is irritability. A lot of people think depression means being sad and down all the time. That’s part of it for me.

But the irritability is the worst.

When I am in a time where I am really battling against depression, I have no patience for my kids. Like, none. Zero.

Everyday annoyances like disagreements over clothing, or whining from being tired and grumpy, make me snap and yell.

And when Annie has a temper tantrum, it sends me over the edge.

Like really over the edge.

Her scream-cry is like nails on a chalkboard. It gets inside my head and triggers something in there. I feel anger. Annoyance. Rage.

It’s the rage that scares me.

I have stood in Annie’s room, staring at her when she’s tantruming, balling my fists up at my side from the tension electrifying my body.

At that moment, I hate everything.

I hate myself for not being able to hug my daughter and make her feel better.

I hate my mind for the depression and what it is doing to me at that moment.

And sometimes, sometimes … sometimes I even think I might hate my daughter.

It’s a horrific feeling.

So I flee.

I turn my back on my tantruming daughter and I take care of my own tantruming brain.

Because sometimes Mama has to come first. And this is one of those times.

I have tried many things to calm myself when this brain freakout happens: listening to loud music. Going outside. Running up and down the basement stairs.

But what really works is my clothes dryer.

One night when Annie was wigging out I was looking for a place to calm down and found myself in the laundry room. The dryer was going.

Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk. Thump Thonk.

I sunk down in defeat next to the dryer and felt its warmness against my back.

I listened to the rhythmic sound of the towels circling over and over.

And gradually, a sense of peace washed over me.

Just like a little baby, I was calmed by white noise and soothing warmth.

I sat there with my eyes closed, breathing deeply and enjoying the heat on my back for about five minutes.

I thought of nothing. I just listened to the Thump Thonk of the dryer. My brain refocused. Reset.

And then I stood up, my mind cleared. I felt like I could handle life now. I felt … normal again.

I went back upstairs to Annie, who had calmed down a little. And I gave her a big hug like I wished I could just 10 minutes before.

So there it is. My clothes dryer is my secret to calming my brain when it’s completely freaking out. It’s a little weird. But it works.

And it’s a whole lot better than losing it on my kid.

What coping mechanisms do you use when you’re about to lose it?

Honest Voices linkup at


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53 Replies to “My Secret to Calming Myself When I’m About to Lose It. Like *Really* Lose It.”

  1. I definitely have those moments… more often than I’d care to admit. Moments of EXTREME irritability. My coping mechanism is just walking outside of my house- cold, hot, night time, morning, raining, whatever. I step out onto our porch, into our (usually) quiet neighborhood and take a few big, long, deep breaths of fresh air. Usually, that helps in itself. Sometimes, because we live right next to my father-in-law and his wife, someone from that house will be outside and smile hello and a few minutes of small talk clears my head!

    Anyway, great read! Thanks for the honesty, as always! šŸ™‚

  2. I love and always come back to blogs where moms are real. There’s something to those perfect blogs, too, and I sometimes indulge in them, but blogs where moms admit to weaknesses are what make me feel normal. Thank you.

  3. I may have to steal your dryer idea. that sounds amazing. Although mine is in the middle of the kitchen so I can’t really “escape” the kiddo. I linked up my post and shared this page on pinterest.

  4. Oops, it went before I was done. Anyway for me, when I am losing it or have lost it, I need to be alone. Just doing nothing and not thinking about anything. Sometimes we can’t do that of course, and the next best thing for me is to sit on the floor and play something mindless like stacking blocks. Yes, as I start I want to run away. But then I find myself recentering and getting back to normal.

  5. I love you for writing this! So few “normal” people understand what it’s like to be inside my brain when I’m depressed. They think the word “depressed” just means “really sad”. I’ve never seen someone else describe it so much like what happens in my head.
    I have never tried the Dryer trick. I think I will have to try that next time.

  6. I’m amazed and humbled every time I read one of your posts – this one perhaps most of all. I mentioned once before that you inspired me to share about my depression on own blog, and that in turn has inspired others to reach out to me about their own struggles. Thank you again for being such an honest mom!

  7. I actually feel that sound IN my head, when I'm about to lose it. It's great that you have discovered a coping mechanism. That's more than half the battle, I think. I see why your blog is called "honest mom" as this post is just that. I've followed via G+ and am putting your button on my pinterest page. Thanks for the hop!

  8. Sigh. The rage is scary. The irritability is so unfair to the kids just being kids. The disappointment in myself is worse. Every time I want to scream at them I beat myself up for it FOREVER. WTF? Why am I about to have a tantrum worse than my kid’s? Why do I have negative 10 patience for them more often lately?
    Sometimes I am able to laugh at the ridiculousness that is me and make a joke to make the kids laugh to stop what is making me so irate. However, usually, I have to walk out of the room and B-R-E-A-T-H-E. I remind myself that they are 3 and 5 and I need to be the example. Starting a new medication tonight, wish me luck.

    1. I so wasn’t done yet. Sorry.

      I loved your actual post, too. It’s so weird to me when I can hear the things coming out of my mouth (mostly towards my saint of a husband) and I can’t for the life of me figure out why I’m being so horrible. Knowing I’m irritable just makes me more grouchy. I have GOT to try the dryer trick. Ours mostly just sounds like a dying hog but it would definitely cover up any other noise in the house.

  9. This tears me up. I feel such relief to know I am not the only one. It hurts so badly being so angry and mad at my kids, for being kids. Thank you. Now I have something I can try.

    Cause believe me some days I just want to punch a wall or scream into a pillow…

  10. Yeah, sometimes you just have to go to your happy place. My depression surfaces like this completely – irritation and anger. My therapist gave me some work that involves beating the crap out of my mattress with a tennis racquet. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! Keeping writing, lady. I’ll follow…

  11. I get rage, too. I get it. It scares everyone in my house (including me). I hate it. It’s the part of depression I despise the most. Thanks for sharing this tip. I will seriously try it! My coping skill is house cleaning. Furious, mind-numbing house cleaning.

  12. Yeah, I hear you. I sometimes break things. Like umbrellas or pencils. I don’t think that’s coping. It’s just what I do when I get overwhelmed with the irrational, out of proportion anger.

  13. Yes! So important to take that time to calm yourself first when you’re in that moment, something I too often miss when I’m feeling rage-y. Ugh. I think this link-up is so cool–great that you started this!

  14. I wish I had this post when my kids were little and tantrum-ing. I was willing to try anything. I really think it is the depression coupled with the unreasonableness of it all. I mean seriously, who wants that kind of psycho screaming feedback? Imagine if you were working the customer service desk at Lowe’s and someone had that reaction towards you? People would be sending you flowers to cheer you up and strangers would be taking your side. Somebody might even call the police. But when your job is the being the mommy, the best thing you get is the side-eye from strangers. And snot wiped in your hair.

    Dude, I think I just had a break-through during my rambling comment. šŸ™‚ BTW, my oldest was at the tough end of the spectrum as a toddler (understate, much?) and even though the teen years are tough, I no longer feel that rage because we can actually talk and she has logic now . . . a lot of times that logic is overridden by hormones, but it’s still better than reasoning with a three year old.

    Honest, thought-provoking post. Thank you. Ellen

  15. I have this too…its just feels like the ugliness inside my head or deep inside my body wants to creep out and spew on everyone and everything around. I try to recognize it and walk away from the situaton. Sometimes, it also requires “mommy time” for me to get away and be by myself. I can feel it coming on sometimes, or just know it’s going to be “one of those days.” Sometimes just asking my husband for a break and taking a quick trip up to Target, the gas station, or anywhere out of the house, by myself, with my own thoughts, will help clear it up. I feel lucky that I can at least recognize it (usually) and take steps to deal with it.

  16. Oh, I get this. The stress can be overwhelming. My 3 and 5 year olds fight a lot! Just listening to them grates on me and there are times when I want to beat them. Sometimes I go outside on the balcony and ignore them for a few minutes (or for as long as it takes to hang a load of laundry), or I make them go for a nap a little early, even though the 5 year old rarely naps any more. If nothing else, once they are in bed for the night I ignore my weight loss plan and have a drink – usually vodka. Just one helps calm me on days when I feel the stress is too much.
    I find I cope better when I get up before the kids, exercise, then have my coffee while reading the paper. Just having that time for myself before the day begins helps me face the demands better.

  17. I have been in that place many times and know the feeling. I don't think any coping mechanism is weird if it works for you then it's awesome. Anything that allows you to cope with your depression and be able to hug your child is an amazing thing. Thank you for sharing this personal moment. I know it's not easy to put your self out there but for people like me who live in those moments too it's extremely comforting to know I'm not alone. (ps thank you for the link up).

  18. What a great idea for a link up, I need to add one. Also that’s a great idea for calming yourself. I actually repeat to myself in my head “this is only temporary” over and over. It sounds cheesy as I type it but it keeps me focused that whatever is happening isn’t going to go on forever.

  19. Oh god, it tears me up when I lose patience with my kids like that. And for as long as I’ve battled depression, the irritability always takes me by surprise the most, and is the hardest to deal with. Good for you for finding your happy place – I might try that next time! And congrats on the successful link up! šŸ™‚

  20. Oh, the irritability… It’s always been there, but takes on a whole new meaning now that I’m a mom. Because it was much easier for me to forgive myself for snapping at friends and family on occasion. Losing it in front of my innocent children and my amazing, ever-patient husband? It just kills me, and feeds into my depression all the more. I’ve been in survival mode for so long that I haven’t really taken the time to come up with a specific strategy to combat it, but reading your post has made me realize that it’s definitely something to consider. Maybe I’ll start with my own dryer, and see how that goes (when I actually get around to running it, that is…)

  21. What an awesome idea for a link-up. I know what you mean about the white noise of the dryer. It reminds me of growing up. It reminds me of my mom taking care of me. This was awesome. I’m glad it helps you.

  22. I've been mulling this post over for a couple days now. I have struggled with anger/irritability for the last several years and I never really thought of it being a symptom of depression. About a year ago I started developing anxiety which the doctor said was from stress. I have alluded to the possibility of being slightly depressed (mostly frustrated with myself for my lack of ability to cope; i.e. the anger and anxiety), but now that I'm putting it together, maybe the umbrella is actually depression, and it's taken the form of anger and anxiety. I don't know. Anyway, I'm just hashing this out. Sometimes I think hormones play a role too (I'm 34). Thanks again for your post. It's always nice to know that I'm not alone in my struggle.

  23. I turn on the TV for the kids then lock myself in my room, quiet helps me, oh and I SMS my friends to send up a prayer for me, that helps too. šŸ™‚

  24. So few people talk about the irritability (and rage) of depression. I have a Bipolar II diagnosis. Being a mother of a needy anxious child makes it even harder. I wish I had a dryer or washer in my house. Your story reminds me though that I remember calming myself with a simple folding towels task.

  25. See, I don’t even call it depression because I’m never actually sad. Just full of that godawful rage. The happy pills help keep it down to one or two mini explosions per week rather than per day. But mine comes on so fast and I’m screaming at my 5-year old before I can even think to go turn on the dryer or any of those other coping mechanisms. Might work for calming me down but I’ll have already caused a giant crying fest in my house by that time. Sigh. I’m just glad to read that other people do this too.

  26. I just found your blog today, and am so glad I did. I tell my friends similar things and they all say ‘me too’, but I never really believe it. Do they really stress, flip, and every other word I can think of, like me? But after reading your blog, and seeing my life, I am blown away. I am not alone. I am tired of feeling alone, and maybe with your blog I will feel a little less alone. Thank you, from a fellow New Englander.

  27. Oh I thought that was JUST ME. I cannot tolerate the screaming/scream-crying. It is SO HARD. It flips what my Grandmother called the “Kill kill kill switch.” It physically hurts. When they scream, I literally have to repeat over and over, “It could be worse. It could be worse.” and/or think about things like bad dreams I’ve had about people taking my child away, at least it’s not that. At least it’s not cancer. At least it’s not an ER visit. At least………over and over. Until my husband gets up and helps, if I’m holding one of them when they’re scream-crying (the baby is FAMOUS for this in the middle of the night. TOP of her lungs, gets the toddler going sometimes,) I am crying with them, and chanting “it could be worse, it could be worse” and screaming too unless the hubs come in, or I bring the baby to him and say “I NEED HELP!”
    Then I have to RUN AWAY for a lil bit, find my earplugs, wait out the screaming. I can do the normal crying, I can quietly cry with them or try EVERYTHING until they’re better. I can do that. That’s when he can go back to bed. It’s the s-c-r-e-a-m-i-n-g that gets me. It makes you feel like a terrible mother. And person.

  28. I just found your blog today, Thank you so much for sharing. I've been dealing with postpartum depression in some form or another since my first child was born four years ago. After my son was born last year it got worse and I am dealing with the anger and rage aspect of depression. It was really scary, I've never been an angry person. I feel like you are describing my life. I know other mom's who have dealt with depression but I've never known anyone to get angry like I do. Your blog makes me feel so much better, its so nice to know I'm not alone.

  29. Yeah… the freakin Rage! Today is my bad day of deppression. It feel as if I’m going to loose my mind. That’s how I found your blog when I search for help… Thank you very much, feel a liitle better to know I’m not the only one. I feel like a horrible mother, my house is a mess (Don’t know where to start or the energy), don’t have a mother to turn to (She just don’t care what is happening in my life or try to help out with my children)… But I’m gonna try the tumble dryer, maybe it will give me the motherly warmth I need… My husband is trying to help and understand me, so I’m so thankfull for that… Don’t know what I would done without him…

  30. Thanks so much for this post. It’s made me tear up a bit actually. I thought I was alone with the anger / rage that goes along with my depression. I love your way of coping.

  31. Just ran across this not even sure i remember how! Major props for all that your doing… it CANNOT be easy. looking back, i think my whole family had depression issues *sigh* so I totally see it from a lil kids perspective… growing up with pissy adults and as a 5 yr old thinking “really?? its not that serious guys..”LOL! there definitely needs to be a community of support for this- not just a vent and whine place. and I think that’s the difference you bring. Well said, real n’ honest and full of hope- PROPS GIRL!!

  32. Thank you so much for your honest blog! I thank the Lord for allowing me to find it! I not only feel guilt over not being “the perfect mom” and losing my temper in what seems like almost every day… I also feel guilt that as a Christian I can’t just “let go and let God”. No one seems to understand. No one seems to WANT to understand. So your blog is a blessing to me. I didn’t realize other people felt this rage with depression. I thought I was the only one and something must really be wrong with me. Thank you again. May God bless you and each of your other readers.

  33. i am about to lose my balls if my familly doesnt get their shit together and stop blaming my for everything. im not kidding. like if some one was to break into my dads car… who does he blame?… me im already in a world of shit in school. (bullies,TEST EVERY SINGLE DAY,and many other things) and now my family has made it harder… except for my dad. even when he is drunk off his ass and yelling at me for no reason. i still love him

  34. Absolutely love your blog! I’ve shared it with my blog and my google+ readers. I never considered the fact that my post partum depression may not be cleared up but this post especially reminds me I still battle with depression. My girls know mommy puts herself in timeout in my bedroom. I find coping methods that work for a little while, but I definitely struggle with this and I agree that a lot of moms stay silent due to the stigma around being the perfect mom, and not wanting to ask for help and being viewed as incapable of being a “good mom” when I know I love my kids so much, I just been thru so much too. Thank you for the honesty šŸ™‚ I’ll keep reading and following and spreading the honesty to others šŸ™‚


  35. Thank you for being brave enough to admit this- I thought i was just a crap mom, but I may be depressed. I love my kids, I have fought for them and loved them and prayed for them and they are everything amazing in my life. SO it is a crazy mystery why I can't remember that when they are running around the house singing, or arguing over the kindle, or crying because it's chore time- and I too am standing at the precipice of absolute frustration, my hands bawled up and I am experiencing absolute hate of life – hate that says "your stupid, it will NEVER FEEL better, what were you thinking, you could have had cats and a career and time eat an actual meal and play video games , go on exciting vacations and have a romantic relationship with your husband, but now you are screwed FOREVER, STUPID STUPID STUPID GIRL. Then I snap put of it and it's like the silliest inner conversation I've ever heard, that is obviously not true in anyway. I relies that everything good in my life is connected to my children. Yet I feel ridiculously angry and reactive almost everyday, I feel like every little sound is magnified by 1000X and their whining is the same as a tornado siren, the house gets dirty because 5 people are contributing to the filth and 2 are cleaning it up, and that makes me even angrier and I feel absolute depression- I am sure that we are disgusting and NO ONE lives like this. And I break and I scream like a banshee and the dog hides and the girls cry, our tweenager locks himself in his room and my husband rushes into disaster repair mode- also yelling to get them to stop doing what ever it is that set me off- but the truth is, they didn't anything, they were being children and I am being a monster yet I truly feel these extreme emotions , as plane as day- I am not making them up in my mind. Then I feel remorse for scaring my children and dog and freaking out my husband and I admit- something is so wrong with my head, why do I hate waking up? Why do jump at the slightest noise, why is everything in technicolor and 1000Xs the decibel it should be? EVERY SENSE is multiplied to a point that I just break apart mentally and flip out and the pressure release is enough to bring me back down. I HATE this and I often hate myself. I've tried prozaic adn wellburtin and finally I just said screw it, they always worked for a few months or years then shut off like a light switch. I've done yoga and meditation and church service and working out- and have come to the conclusion I must just be a selfish person deep down, because this is not normal behavior. Maybe I am not a jerk, maybe I am depressed, but then what? How do you turn that off and become June Cleaver? I Hope we find the answer because I truly love my family and wish my mind wasn't this pressure cooker it seems to be. I think you are brave to admit these feelings, because in America mothers are expected to be sweet, kind and patient and flowers, rainbows and unicorn poo- and quite frankly I don't know if I ever felt that way.

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