Thanks for your comments on last week’s post about how tricky going back to work can be after having a family. This week we have Samoina from PPD Island sharing a really personal story of a lesser known, but very common, symptom of PND – anger.
Rage, Anger, Simmering fury, Bubbling ire
These are the words that come to mind whenever I think about the kind of anger and resentment I felt when I had Postpartum Depression. Before I was aware of the specific name given to my then-condition, I wondered to myself why, in my parenting, I was always angry, always furious, always seething at something. When my son was a few weeks old, I thought it would pass, I kept telling myself it was as a result of the sleep deprivation.
In my mind, once he settled into a sleeping pattern, the anger would ease. But it did not, and Oh God, he took maaaaany months to settle into a pattern (one of the effects that PPD had on my son 🙁 ). No one starts on their parenting journey anticipating failure, and that’s just what PPD does to you: makes you feel like you failed at this parenting thing, like you cannot get anything right. This very thought would set a cascade of events that would make me quiver with fury.
The rage never did tone down. If anything, it went a notch higher. I knew there was something terribly wrong with me (my emotional and mental state) the day I slapped his fragile tiny body for ‘crying too much’. In retrospect, this was deep in the pits of depression. It was a frustration words do not quite capture. So in exhaustion, after the incident, the waves of guilt came flooding my weary heart. And I could not stop the tears either. This irked me, because if there’s anger that’s as frustrating as it is tiresome, it is anger at yourself. So there I was, feeling helpless, frustrated… and the unrelenting anger.
Some scenarios that would paint the dark hole that the anger was:
You cry the whole freaking night, and I am gonna get angry at you, child. Can’t you just sleep once, one freaking night? I mean, what’s the point of crying because you are sleepy instead of just sleeping? *cue sleep deprivation* If you cry one more time, I swear, just one more time, I am going to beat you, because you cannot sleep. Irrational, but the thing is, when you are smirk in the middle of the darkness that depression is, those are the lenses that you use to view life…
I got angry at the ‘flimsiest’ reasons, but you bet they were not flimsy then. And when anger reared its ugly head within the four walls, I threw anything my hands landed on. And many times I prayed that ‘thing’ would not be my six month baby. Uncontrollable does not begin to describe this grip that anger had on me.
Everything made me angry, eeee-v- e-r- y-t- h-i- n-g!
- I hated the fact that day was followed my night, simply because it meant the mask would come off and I would cry into my pillow for hours, my son nursing notwithstanding.
- I hated changing diapers 2 milliseconds after changing it (and at the same time wondering where the money would come from seeing as I was jobless at the time)
- The sight of dirty dishes made me angry.
- The statement ‘I understand what you feel’ from anyone who had never got depression irked me.
- The way my life seemed to have stopped, and the world continued spinning.
- The fact that suicidal thoughts felt like a calm place, yet I couldn’t fight the fear of it (https://ppdisland.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/day-10- angst/)
- I got angry at the way dogs barked at night, never mind I couldn’t get any sleep.
- I hated it when my shoes pinched…
I was angry at everything.
It was a remarkably horrible feeling. I felt pathetic on the inside, and it showed on the outside effortlessly. Now that I have healed from PPD, I look back and realize the sheer number of horrific intrusive thoughts I got, the irrational things I did (and said to an infant) in utter frustration and I realize that anger is the least-talked about, and the most-frowned on –albeit subconsciously- symptom of Postpartum depression.
Which is why, while I cringe and tear at these sad memories, I would like to let any moms suffering from PPD out there that the deep-seated anger is part of the condition, and that you are not alone in this. You are not a bad parent for been an ‘unlucky person’ to suffer from depression right after your little bundle arrived. And there’s help. It can get better, It does get better. There is hope – when you make the decision to ask for help.
Asking for help, especially when you do not have an inkling of where the anger stems from is a daunting task. Yet, as much as it glares at you, it is one of the most liberating things any parent would have to do. I sought help online, because heck I did not have any money to go see a medical practitioner. Finding Postpartum Progress was my first step to healing. What an amazing online community of warrior moms who showed me there was hope.
It can get better, it does get better. You are not alone in this.