Remember when I told you a few months ago about how I was struggling with rage? That more and more often I would turn into a monster on my kids? Yeah…that never got much better.
I tried, y’all. I really did. I did everything I knew how to do–prayer, meditation, journaling, essential oils, supplements, etc., etc. I gave it my best shot to treat this monster in me naturally and without resorting to antidepressants. But it wasn’t enough. A few months ago I finally swallowed my pride and headed off to see my doctor and we agreed that a low dose of antidepressant drugs was probably best for this season of my life. In fact, the doc and I both concluded that this rage I’ve been feeling is actually a reoccurrence of my postpartum depression. Evidently, PPD can present as feelings of rage…who knew?
Postpartum Depression and Rage
Unfortunately, the link between postpartum depression and anger has been noted but not studied very well. Nor is it widely known that PPD can present solely as an anger problem without the feelings of depression that many women feel when they have PPD. This lack of knowledge on the subject is leading doctors to miss correctly diagnosing women with PPD.
Postpartum rage feels a bit like bad PMS, but on steroids. Women will experience uncontrollable anger that is hard to control, often lashing out at friends, family, or even strangers. It is embarrassing and horrifying to feel as though you are not in control of your own emotional responses, so most women hide or justify their rage instead of talking to someone about it. Ignoring the problem not only prolongs the woman’s suffering, but can make the condition worse.
Luckily, postpartum rage can be treated effectively with antidepressants. And while many moms, like me, prefer not to be on pharmaceutical drugs, this kind of thing is exactly what they’re there for: to get you through a season of life in which you are not in control of the hormones creating this mess of confusion and angst. Thank goodness for that.
I know I shouldn’t feel ashamed to admit this, but I do. The perfectionist in me feels as though I have failed some great cosmic test of motherhood. My inner critic sneers at me, A billion moms out there go through the trials of raising kids on a daily basis and they don’t need drugs, you weakling. The control freak in me is ashamed that I wasn’t able to get a grip on myself and snap out of it. These parts of me don’t want to write this post, to admit to other moms out there that I need the help of drugs just to get through my days. I would much rather hide my truth and pretend that everything is sunshine and roses. Who wouldn’t?
Here’s the thing, though. Nothing irritates me more than fake people. Nothing makes me grit my teeth harder than people who blatantly show off their perfect moments and sweep the real, raw, ugly, dirty, hard moments under a freshly vacuumed rug. So I share my truth here and wherever I can because I feel that it helps other moms to know that they’re not the only ones going through the raw, dirty, hard moments. And I know for a fact that I’m not the only mom out there who deals with postpartum rage.
So, yes, I am now taking a low dose antidepressant to help me in this season of life. This season of screaming babies, tantruming toddlers, poop up to my elbows, and a perpetually messy house. This season of not sleeping, non-napping, nursing a bazillion times a day, coffee guzzling, long, long, long days. And you know what? It’s helping. I can’t say that I’m “better” because I still have my moments of will-you-kids-just-be-quiet-and-leave-me-the-blank-alone-for-five-minutes, but I am certainly less rage-y and more patient than I was before. My husband agrees that my mood and attitude is markedly improved. So for that I am grateful. Eventually, I will wean myself from the drugs, probably after my son is a year old, but for now I will just accept my fate as a drug user (joking…kinda). And I will be grateful that these types of treatments are available to help me through this.
Have you ever had a time in your life where you felt like your best effort to overcome a situation was not good enough? How did you cope and/or find peace with the fact that you needed help?
I know the exact feeling. I have PTSD from an abusive marriage I’m still in divorce proceedings with. I finally had to come to terms with taking medication to be there for my son. My doctors say I may be on it for a very long time, but I know that God created someone smart enough to create a medicine that helps overwhelmed mommies make it. God has seen me through a lot more than just a daily pill, he’s not going to stop taking care of me now!
Patti O'Donnell says
Chey, it takes a strong person to admit their weaknesses and it was very brave of you to do so. I can only say, think of what might have happened. We see news of too many women who snapped and didn’t mean to. You will be happier with the help as much as your kids and husband will be too. Now you can give them the best you and that is what is important.
I always thought of myself as super woman and then about a year after Pat had his by-pass surgery I lost it. Too many worries and too little sleep so also got help and it was such a relief. I didn’t have to worry about everything as well as take care of my husband. Sleep came easier, maybe not a full 8 hours but a good sleep. Within a year I was off the meds and back to my cheerful self. You will be too and come to realize it was a good decision.
Oh, don’t worry about the house. Those kids aren’t going to remember it being a mess. But they will remember all the wonderful times they had playing with mon!