In July of 2014, our beautiful Rainbow Baby was born. My husband and I had waited years for her, and she was finally here. A healthy baby girl. I left the hospital thankful and excited.
After being home for about a week, I started feeling really agitated. I assumed it was the lack of sleep and changing hormones and brushed it off. Within a few weeks, I was experiencing what I could only describe as RAGE. Full blown, seeing red, clenching teeth until it feels like they will shatter, rage that lingered just under the surface and would be set off so easily it was terrifying.
This was NOT me. I’d never in my entire life felt this type of anger before. I’ve never been good at asking for help, but I knew at this point that I really needed it. I made an appointment at the local hospital’s clinic for Postpartum Moms. My appointment arrived 2 weeks later. The appointment started with an intake process where they asked me all the typical questions about postpartum depression (PPD). “Are you experiencing:
- Frequent crying
- Feelings of sadness, anxiety, worthlessness or hopelessness
- Lack of energy for everyday tasks
- Trouble sleeping even when the baby is asleep
- Sense of stress that interferes with daily life
- Loss of interest in food or preoccupation with eating
- Loss of interest in self-care
- Loss of concentration
- Difficulty making decisions
- Lack of pleasure or interest in most or all activities
- Excessive anxiety about the baby
- Lack of interest in or feeling detached from the baby
- Fears of harm coming to the baby or thoughts of harming the baby
- Thoughts of suicide or harming yourself “
My answer was no. I wasn’t sad, I was angry. I was more than angry, I was enraged. My rage wasn’t towards the baby, it was towards everyone else in my family.
The intake nurse said it didn’t sound like I had postpartum depression, but she’ll send me in to talk to the therapist anyway.
When I went into the therapists’ office, she asked all of the exact same questions as the intake nurse. I again repeated “No, I don’t want to hurt the baby or myself. No, I’m not sad. I am just experiencing blinding rage for no apparent reason.”
She too told me that she doesn’t think I have postpartum depression. She said I was just “situationally enraged” and sent me home.
I went home and continued to live this way. I mean, that therapist is a licensed and trained person and she told me I didn’t have PPD. I was scared. I was scaring my family. The rage was ALWAYS there and I didn’t know what to do. At 6 months postpartum, I got pregnant again. I was still experiencing rage daily, throughout my entire pregnancy.
The birth of our second daughter was VERY traumatic. Baby and I were not doing well and nobody knew why. Luckily, she was born healthy. We were kept for observation for 3 days and then sent home.
I still had the rage, and now I had the sadness too. I told every adult I came in contact with about it. Just in case someone knew something I didn’t. Maybe someone had a recommendation. I was so overwhelmed. I begged family for help with my babies so I could keep up with our disaster of a house. I was promised help that never came. My mental health was on a steady decline, and I didn’t really know. When baby #2 was 6 months old, we decided to move across the country to the Northeast, I just kept ignoring all of my symptoms and ‘sucking it up’ for 2 more years.
One day I was standing in our garden working the soil and preparing for planting. The sun was shining. The little ones were playing happily nearby. I wasn’t ‘stressed’ about anything, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe. My neck started feeling like it was tensing up so much that my head would just explode. My heart was pounding fast and hard. My arms and legs were tingling and twitching. I was sure I was having a heart attack or a stroke (at 35 years old). I, of course, ignored it. I didn’t want to be told I was fine and sent home.
For two weeks I felt this way. I finally decided on an appointment with my doctor. Turns out, I was having panic attacks.
A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms: Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate. Sweating. Trembling or shaking. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
She gave me some Zoloft and followed up with me every few weeks. This was the first time I’ve felt like anyone was actually listening to me. Generally, I’m not a fan of medications, but the Zoloft has helped me so much. I’ve also found a great therapist to help me work on ALL of these things I’ve been bottling up.
I wish I had the energy to reach out for more help in the beginning when I was experiencing Postpartum Rage. I wonder how things might be different now. I am working on it though. This IS my self-care.
Postpartum Rage is REAL
If you are experiencing rage and anger postpartum, I encourage you to contact a therapist and your doctor for help. Don’t suffer for years like I did.
For you new mamas: your feelings are valid and real. There are moms out there who have gone through this and we are here to help you through. You deserve to be listened to and cared for. But most all, your feelings are real and more common than you realize.
You are not alone, and it’s going to be okay.
Signup below to join our exclusive Facebook group for moms and keep the conversation going.