I had expected to feel down, sad, and grumpy. Which I did, that’s for sure.
But rage? That was not something I expected from postpartum depression.
And the rage is what drove me to get help.
About five weeks after my second daughter, Grace, was born, my husband could tell I was not doing well. So he decided to surprise me with a half-day at a local spa.
I was thrilled. Nails, facial, massage … and no baby or toddler attached to me for a few blissful hours. Heaven.
But when I came home, I could hear Grace’s crying the second I walked into the house. My body tensed immediately and the relaxed feeling was gone. Hubs told me that Grace didn’t eat the entire time I was out. She took a little milk from a bottle but then wouldn’t accept the bottle again.
She didn’t accept a bottle EVER again.
And I could feel the rage start to build from that day.
I felt trapped by my colicky, non-sleeping, no-bottle-taking baby. I was frustrated with my toddler, Anne, who was throwing tantrums constantly. And I was really questioning my decision to leave my full-time writing job for the occasional freelance gig.
I felt overwhelmed, sad, anxious, and angry. Every. Single. Day.
Then one night I really lost it on Anne when she was having a tantrum. I couldn’t control the words flying out of my mouth. I wanted to smack her and make her stop (which thankfully, I didn’t). I wanted to be anywhere but there.
The rage coming out of me was other-worldly. Thankfully Hubs was there and was able to intervene. I feel physically ill when I think about how I acted and what could have happened.
It was the most terrifying feeling I had ever experienced.
I called both my primary care and OB docs the next day. Working together, they got me on Zoloft and into therapy right away. And I felt better within days. The sadness, the lack of interest in life, the anxiety … it all got better with the Zoloft.
The rage, though, took more work to get under control. The Zoloft helped. But the therapy was what made it much, much better.
Four years later, I am still managing my depression. The PPD got better, but then morphed into another kind of depression when my dad suddenly died. Who knows what it technically is now—but I’m still dealing with it.
And the rage is still there. It’s the most difficult part to manage and from my experience, the least-talked about symptom of depression.
That’s why I’m writing this post. I want all you moms out there to know that if you deal with PPD or depression—and especially the rage that can accompany it—you are not alone. You are not a bad mom. It can and will get better—if you get help.
Being a mom means doing hard things. And sometimes the hardest thing is asking for the help you need. I know that first phone call was incredibly hard for me to make.
But now I understand that depression happens to regular people. These scary feelings do not make me a bad mother. And with medication, therapy, and healthier life choices, I feel more like me again.
Yes, I’m still fighting the depression, sadness, and rage. But now, finally … finally I feel like I’m winning.
A version of this post originally appeared on Scary Mommy and got an amazing, emotional response from many women. You can read all the comments here. Many thanks to Jill Smokler for helping me raise awareness about PPD and depression.
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc
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