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You Are Not Alone

by Amelia on October 30, 2008
category: 0 – 1 year (baby),Pregnancy

I was talking to a friend not too long ago, who was sharing with me some of her difficulties about being a mom.  She recently had a baby and is probably suffering from some postpartum depression. But not in the way you’d necessarily expect.  She doesn’t sit and cry all day long.  She doesn’t feel depressed.  She feels angry–really angry.  Easily frustrated.  Occasional suicidal thoughts. As she was sharing I had flashbacks from my postpartum days after I had my second baby.  I felt the same things.  Sometimes I would feel so full of rage toward my baby that I understood in those moments why some mothers shake their babies or abuse them. When he would cry and cry I had images of throwing him across the room.  And then I would snap back into reality and feel like the worst mother of the world.  I had suicidal thoughts–I wanted to escape from my reality at the time.  I took most of my anger out on my husband. I remember one day when he walked in the door 3 minutes (that’s right, 3 minutes) late from work and I laid into him like he had been gone all night.  So much for “Hi dear, I’m glad you are home.”   I was so upset that if I had lasers in my eyes I would have burned a hole in his chest.  Something wasn’t quite right in my head to respond so viciously.  I would get so mad for little things and it was hard on our marriage.  I think it was must of been God’s hand on my heart that kept me from doing anything that would harm myself or my children or in some instances, my husband.

We recovered and looking back, I wish I had talked to a professional about how I was feeling.  I might have asked for more help–but at the time I didn’t know WHAT would help. Even when our third baby was younger and he would fight going to sleep, I would feel those feelings of rage and would put him on my shoulder to pat his back.  Sometimes I would pat it hard enough that I could tell that my anger was getting the better part of me and I would slow down and take some deep breaths.

Sometimes postpartum depression masks itself in different ways. I think that mothers are afraid to talk about how angry they sometimes feel toward their children.  No one wants to be the mom who yells at her kids, spanks in anger, shakes her baby, slams doors, feels like she hates her husband.  I think moms feel ashamed if they struggle with these things and don’t want to tell their friends because they are afraid of being judged.  So they struggle alone–maybe they have a faith to fall on–maybe not.  Maybe they suffer alone because they feel like they have to hide their feelings.   If you are out there and reading this, and you too have struggled (or currently are) with postpartum depression that included fierce anger toward your children or your spouse –I just want you to know that you are not alone.  There are others of us out there who have been through it.

Things that might help:

  • Make an appointment with a counselor
  • Get an appointment to talk with your medical provider (midwife, family doc, ob etc.) and talk about your options
  • Talk to a trusted friend about how you are feeling (even if you are not one to share about your deeply personal struggles)
  • Talk to a pastor/clergy, Stephen minister, prayer group and have them pray with you
  • Ask your friends/family to help.  Yes, it is hard.  But it might make your life a little easier
  • Ask your spouse for some regular free time away from the house (even just one or two a week)

How can your friends help?

  • Bring a meal
  • Come for a play date
  • Come and hold your baby while you do chores or cook dinner
  • Come and hang out with your baby while you take a nap
  • Have someone go out for the “I’m out of bread and milk” grocery run for you
  • Watch the baby/kids while you go to your doctor/counseling/clergy appointment

10 Responses to You Are Not Alone

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Average Girl
    October 30, 2008 @ 10:03 am

    Great Post. Very informative!

    It takes courage to admit those things. And your right, you are not alone. No one is! I got chicken skin just reading it.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Sara
    October 30, 2008 @ 11:03 am

    Great Post!

    I think sometimes we as moms are afraid to admit these things about ourselves due to having that fear of being judged by others. But believe it or not there are alot of women who suffer with these feelings. Once I reached out and started talking about it with my friends and they started to share with me their feelings as well, I no longer felt alone. I know for me personally after my third baby I had to seek medical help. Now recovered from that experience I can see that I probably suffered from postpartum depression after my second baby but never really got treated or even really admited it to myself. My symptoms were being short tempered, anger, negative thinking and have total melt downs or the smallest things.

    Just talking and being on medication for half a year helped me pull out of it and gain control back over my emotions. For me just taking medication was a big deal. I tried to overcome my postpartum depression without meds but could never get my thoughts inorder. I would tend to overthink things and since my thoughts were negative I would then become angry.

    So for those of you who feel like you may be suffering from postpartum please seek out help and know you are not alone, you are not a bad mommy, and as a matter of fact you are allowing yourself to be the best momy you can by getting help. Don’t short change you or your children by being ashamed.

    God bless

  • Gravatar October 30, 2008 @ 11:06 am

    This is such an important message to get out to new moms–that if you’re having a hard time, don’t just grit your teeth and bear it. Try to get some help, somewhere.

    My son had colic and screamed for hours at a time. I felt a lot of anger and disillusionment during that first year of motherhood (“no one told me it would be this hard!”). But you do get through it–now he’s a wonderful 13-yr old who lets me sleep through the night! At the time I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

    Support from friends and family members is really important, especially if you desperately need a break from a screaming infant now and then like I did! We actually ended up moving back to my hometown near my family because we realized how important that support system was for us.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Sara
    October 30, 2008 @ 11:07 am

    Sorry for all the typo’s. I thought I checked it before I hit submit but after re-reading it I saw a few typo’s or typed the wrong word to begin with. :)

    I was trying to type as fast as I could in the 15mins I had on the computer.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Katherine Stone
    November 2, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

    Thanks for writing this. It is a reminder that anger and irritability is one of the symptoms of postpartum depression, which many people don’t realize. I’m going to link to your post from Postpartum Progress.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Seattlemomma
    November 5, 2008 @ 11:35 am

    So, So, So glad you brought this up. As a 16 year survivor of PPMD’s anger was far from a mentioned symptom. My experience was one of all emotions, and MANY physical symptoms. I remember that I wasn’t as scared feeling angry, compared to depressed or anxious (the worst for me). Afraid of nothing 24-7 was beyond anxiety provoking, and thus the cycle.

    But anger, rage, explosive rage….at least I had a little power back, and wasn’t scared to death. I would secure my baby, go into the bathroom, shut the door and beat the bath tub with a towel. NOBODY knew what to say if I confessed this.
    One evening after an especially rageful exchange with my husband (my response to anything was an over-reaction). I got in my car and screeched away down the street, furiously beating the steering wheel. Which set the horn off, and it got stuck (yes…..on).
    I had to drive to a gas station and have it unplugged. Which sobbered me up quickly. Soon after, with a burst of strength, I sought out help (not much out there in 1992). I finally got lucky. And was diagnosed 2 yrs. postpartum. Don’t over look those symptoms that end up at the bottom of the list !

  • Gravatar April 29, 2009 @ 4:03 am

    [...] I had gotten angry I remembered that Amelia had written a blog post about anger and PPD here on The Mom Crowd and I went and read it. In her suggestions on how to deal with it, she suggested that you talk about [...]

  • Gravatar
    Comment by eloise
    May 14, 2009 @ 7:13 pm

    thanks to all you moms out there who posted your experiences–especially amelia. i had no idea anger was a symptom of postpartum depression. i have had terrible fits of rage lately (mother of a one-year-old and three-year-old) and thought i was just going crazy. i have blamed myself for being overly perfectionistic and controlling and have tried to “let things go” but not with much success. as soon as i calm down over one issue, another comes at me from left field. i do not have most of the other symptoms of PPD except for this anger that i never knew could overtake me as it has. my sister is a counselor and my other sister is an m.d., so i have gotten a lot of good advice, but perhaps it’s time to get in to see my own doctor and get my emotions under control. i think part of the problem is that i feel there is a stigma attached to having any kind of mental illness and along with possibly having to take meds, but i guess for the sake of my children, i need to humble myself and get my head on straight. thanks again to everyone and God bless each of you.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Candice
    November 4, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

    Came across this when looking for some…. reassurance I guess… on the internet…. as I forcefully placed my 2 week old on the couch after feeding her, trying to chance her diaper and dealing with my 2 year old’s attention-seeking behavior (which was very subtle, but extremely annoying at the time). It’s very hard to be a calm Mommy sometimes. I finally broke down crying, went and washed my hands, slammed the lightswitch in the bathroom, and tearfully explained the whole situation to my 2 year old who was in a bit of a state of shock. My two year old came and wiped my tears off with her sleeve. Yesterday she told me Jesus could help me and then asked Him to help me, today she said “it’s okay Mommy.” Yes, it’s okay. And not okay all at the same time. The first child was extremely difficult emotionally. I feel more prepared this time, but when I hit the end of my patience, it’s awful. I think I at least need to stop swearing. I agree with that last comment – I think I will call the number my midwife gave to me and find some emotional support. I have support in everything and feel extremely blessed because of it, but some professional support in this area is probably the best thing for my family. Thank you for being honest.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Shelly87
    November 10, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

    I’m so gratful I found this article. I believe I’ve been struggling with PPD but have been confused because I don’t have the typical symptoms like depression or loss of interest. I’m perfectly happy all time time except when I get fits of rage. They’re terrible and I’ve felt fear for the wellbeing of my baby (and 2 year old). It happens in a split second and feel no control and then I snap out of it just as quickly. I feel like the most terrible mother in the world for the thoughts I’ve had, especially since I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful daughters who are so good all the time. The rage can come for any reason or almost no reason at all. I just started seeking help outside my marriage. My husband has been the most wonderful support for me but we both know I need real help. I’m so glad to know other moms have had the same experiences I have. Thank you for sharing.

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