Monday, May 4, 2009

The Angry Side of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression.  Ok, so what's going through your head?  

A mom in her raggedy pajamas, hair's a mess, weepy, puffy eyes, can't get off the couch.  Pretty close?  That's what I always thought, too.

But let me give you another picture.  Happy mom.  Gettin' stuff done.  Then baby starts crying.  Toddler throws a fit.  The phone rings.  The dog needs out.  Hubby home in a few minutes.  Dinner's not started.  Doorbell rings.  The tension builds so fast and furious, and your body starts to feel the weight, your shoulders sink, a tingling anxiety flows across you and you Snap.  Scream, out loud, if someone was in your reach, you may very well strangle them.  You pound your fist into the air, wishing you could deck someone, and you hate your children, your husband, your house, the dog, the phone, the doorbell.  All within a few very scary seconds.  Then the guilt sinks in - you're a terrible mother, you can't do this job, you aren't able to handle it, no mother should ever feel this way, you want to run away, head hanging in shame.  Your family deserves better.

That is how I was feeling.

The problem was that I woke up each day, promising myself I would not snap.  Not today, today will be a good day.  I am a mind over matter kind of gal, a "no makes you feel anything you don't want to" proponent.  Be responsible for your feelings and actions, and it's all about the power of positive thinking!  So what the hell was wrong with me!

Turns out I had/have Postpartum Depression, and it is nothing to scoff at.  Two times in the week before my doctor's appointment, I actually felt the urge to hurt my baby.  Out of anger.  (At the time, he had a stomach virus, and it was a worse than usual week.)  I ripped my husband's head off out of nowhere.  I screamed at my 2 1/2 year old.  For being a 2 1/2 year old.

I thought maybe my hormones might be out of whack a bit, but honestly, I thought it was something I could overcome, that I would snap out of it.  And that's what I was thinking when I went to my doctor, for my annual exam, and casually mentioned how I was feeling at the end of the visit.  No one is as surprised as I am to realize what was really going on.  I can guarantee that I would not have called my doctor because I didn't think anything was medically wrong with me.

I have opted to go on Lexapro, an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.  This is serious stuff.  My doctor also advocated lots of exercise, nutritious diet, and getting out for some sunshine.  I have follow up visit with her to make sure that I am doing OK, and hopefully this will be a three month or so treatment.

At first, this wasn't something I was sure I should share...with the entire world!  But the more I research, the more I confide in friends and family and playgroup members, the more I realize that this is not discussed.  No one likes to talk about the weepy side of depression, but when PPD is anger and rage, moms are incredibly ashamed to admit those feelings.  Moms are sweet, nurturing, do everything right, know it all, are the angels that watch over tomorrow's leaders.   What kind of mother yells at her kids; has feelings of hurting her loved ones; feels an unnatural rage over everyday occurrences?  From what I've learned in the past month - many moms.  Everyday moms.  Working moms.  Stay home moms.  Funny moms.  Loving moms.

So let's talk about this.  Let's be healthy.  Let's cut ourselves some slack.  Let's acknowledge the incredibly hard job we have as mothers in today's world. And if you are reading this and hear yourself saying "Oh, my, I feel that way, too," then you owe it to yourself to do something about it.  I'm not going to tell you to go on drugs!  BUT...I will tell you to call your doctor.  Call your OB.  Describe how you're feeling.  I don't care if your "baby" is two years old!  Find a friend, a neighbor, an aunt or mom.  Share your feelings.  You are not alone!

Between the medication and talking with good friends and family, I am a new person today.  Life is still stressful, 15 things still hit me at one time.  But I don't feel like I'm going to scream.  A little voice inside tells me I can do this, that I will be OK.  I am calmer.  I am happier.  And I am a better mom for it.  And now that I see the clouds starting to lift, my next goal is not just to add in more movement in my day, but really step up my exercise.  Get those endorphins pumping, get some sunlight, and start to feel better, naturally!


Kevin & Laurel said...

WOW....I have the EXACT same feelings you had. So much rage which is NOT me. My doctor has given me Zoloft but I haven't started it because I'm still worried because of breastfeeding even though I've bee reassured its safe, I just can't shake the feeling he is still ingesting it. Sigh....what to do...what to do. (I also have a 2 1/2 year old).

Anonymous said...

You totally just described my life right now (except I don't have a dog). I have a 6 week old and a 2 1/2 year old and a husband who works 80+ hrs a week. Many days I end up in tears and hating myself after snapping and screaming at my toddler. I feel out of control. My 6 week post partum check up is tomorrow and I'm going to talk to my doctor about this for sure. Thanks for making me feel not so alone (and crazy).

Laura said...

Wow... this is me as well. Reading your post has really motivated me to talk to my doctor.


Anonymous said...

wow, i am in the exact same boat. i just screamed at my 2 year old toddler last night for 2 hours because he kept waking up and yelling for his mommy. i don't want to bring him into my bed because i don't want my newborn to wake up. i fear that with both babies awake i won't be able to handle it. i saw red last night when i was screaming. i felt like a monster. my post-partum followup it was suggested that i go on medication but i haven't yet. i'm trying to work the twelve steps around it instead because i also fear being medicated while breastfeeding.

but obviously if i'm going to hurt my kids then it's more important i be medicated. i just can't believe this is happening to me. how can i scream at my own baby? wtf!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE! My husband doesn't get it. He does not want me on drugs, but I feel like a monster too. I get angry and yell for no reason, things I could handle it seems like I can't. So I'm going to fill in my prescription so I stop being so mad for no reason.

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of these horrible feelings towards myself and then sadly look at my gorgeous little boy and say id have none of these problems if it wasnt for you which I know I never really mean as he is well and truly my world, I find it hard being a single mum constantly feeling like im on my own with no help im only 22 with my mum having moved married and a new babg younger than my little boy yet I cant tell her any of this as im just silly and being pathetic according to her. I hate the way I feel and then the things.o say to my little one and the guilt trip after which just upsets me more. Being a single 22 year old gets to me indo go out and go to work so show my LO its right to work but I get home and he just plays.up to get my attention which causes me to go stir crazy and break down. I really need help with this :(

Sian Parker said...

Heya I just read your comment I'm not ggoing to do the it will get better bullshit.

I'm a 23 y/o single mother who suffers from severe, and truly messed up, intrusive thoughts and rage. I've been to the docs who prescribed m. Drugs I took myself off of them though as it just made me coast along and not really feel much.
So I'm really writing to you to let you know you're not alone in this I understand completely where you're coming from so if you ever need to vent just contact me via g+

Kind regards Siân

Anonymous said...

I am going through this. I've been going in a rage at my 2.5 year old son after having my newborn daughter. I'm afraid I am scarring him psychologically. I also don't want pharma meds. I'm also afraid to tell anyone as I don't want my children taken away. I love them. I love my Lil boy...but I can't handle him now like a same human being....only rage...punishment...lashing so lonely...i feel like I'm failing at motherhood...