Postpartum Rage: My Story, Part 1

This post has been sitting in draft for ages. If you count a blank page as a draft, that is.

It’s hard to know what to say. This is a very touchy topic and I’ll have to admit to some stuff that I’ve admitted to very few people. Plus it’s sort of buried because I’ve dealt with it – for the most part anyway – and I don’t want to dredge it back up again. And also because there are things I actually have no memory of.

I want to write about this, though. Postpartum rage is part of my experience. And it’s a term that ranks high in the list of search terms that bring people to my blog.

I wrote about it very briefly before but I didn’t really say much about it. Just that I experienced it and that it’s actually a common symptom of depression. A lot of moms experience it as part of PPD.

But the subject of rage and anger after having a baby is coming up more and more in conversations with people. So many moms I know are experiencing this. I can’t fix it for them, but I can let them know they’re not alone. So here goes.

Imagine a time you totally lost your temper. When you were so consumed by anger you felt it as a physical thing, adrenaline racing through your body and blocking out all rational thought. When your first instinct, as though it were primal, was to throw something so it would shatter into a thousand pieces and break whatever spell had overtaken you.

That’s what it felt like for me for much of my son’s first 2 1/2 years.

I was desperately sleep deprived. I had no patience. Anger was my constant companion.

It raised its ugly head when I had spent hours trying to get him to sleep only to have him immediately wake up screaming.

It brought me to tears when he woke up every half hour at night and I was so tired I wanted to die and had no idea how I was ever going to get through the night, never mind the next day.

It added to the exhaustion of trying to cope with and comfort a fussy baby.

It made me want to yell and scream. Sometimes I did.

It left me feeling without hope when he smiled and cooed and all I could think was that having a baby had been a mistake.

For months the inside of my head was screaming because I was so angry and I didn’t know what to do about it. I couldn’t throw the baby against the wall or out the window, though the physical urge to do so consumed me.

I spent many days worrying I would hit him and yet at the same time was sure I wouldn’t. Except (oh my god I’m going to admit it) one time I did. It was light – just a smack against his thigh on a really bad day when I had nothing left.

It made him cry.

I stood there in horror. And then I scooped him up and held him to me and cried with him.

Even then, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And I didn’t ask for help because I was so scared to admit what was going on.

Having an infant is hard. I just kept waiting for it to get better, but – for me at least – that didn’t happen.

As my son got older and started to lack cooperation at the worst possible moment – writhing around in a poopy diaper, for instance – I found myself wanting to pin him to the table and force him, bodily, to lie still.

It simmered beneath the surface all the time, a bubbling pot of anger that threatened, every day, to spill over.

When I couldn’t take it I would summon my loudest inside-my-head voice and swear – at the universe, at his crying, at mine.

I swore at my inability to cope.

I swore at battling the same things, day after day after day.

I swore out loud some days, to myself, through my sobs, as my tears ran over my words and the guilt and misery and hopelessness that came with them.

I felt massively ripped off in my experience as a new mother. I still resent it. It still makes me cry.

When I went back to work when my son was 11 months old, I thought it would get better.

It didn’t.

To be continued...


 

Comments

  1. MamaTrack says:

    Robin, I cried with you through this. I know how horrible anger is, especially when you are angry at your child. It's infuriating and heartbreaking and your vision is literally tinged red.

    I'm so glad you wrote this. It's important for people, for moms, to know they aren't alone. And it takes tremendous courage on your part to admit it.
    My recent post A Fish Tale

  2. I've never been officially diagnosed with PPD, but anger – no. RAGE (yes, capitalized) – this kind of beast is something I've only experienced since motherhood. It is almost never directed at my kids, most usually the other adult in my life, or at my self, or at life in general. It's like this fire can in an instant rip through my chest, this ugliness that I'd never want anyone else to see, or feel, or meet in person. Thank you for speaking out, Robin. It helps.

  3. You are very brave! As I read through, tears came (they are still falling) and I feel your pain! I lost count of how many plates, cups and bowls I have broken out of anger/rage since my now 3yo old was born. You will never be alone on your journey, we are here by your side, holding your hand. Thank you for sharing your story knowing how hard this was to do. Sending many, many hugs and so much love! As scary as this all is, it is a comfort to know I am not alone in feeling some of these feelings. Stay strong, you are a beautiful mama!!

  4. Rage was a tremendous part of my experience as well. I relate to every single thing to which you have admitted in this post. I don't think I've ever shared the depth of my experience with Postpartum Rage. Your post makes me want to do just that – I think it's time I opened up about the debilitating anger I experienced after giving birth. ((hugs)) to you for being so very brave & putting this out there.
    My recent post Reanimating my past

  5. TheKirCorner says:

    oh how brave you are. You know I was never diagnosed with PPD but because of my own childhood, I know all about the RAGE you're explaining , even now at 3 1/2 I have times of complete ANGER at situations, but I use all the things I learned in an anger mgmt course I took when I was in my 20's…loooong before I became a mom, but even back then, I was afraid of what I could do if I was stressed enough

    I know that this was HARD to write and I applaud you for doing it, for being a VOICE for those women out there who do not have one yet.

    I'm thinking of you.

  6. hamletsmistress says:

    Aw, mama, I love you. I know at some point it did get better and I'm so happy about that for you.

  7. I too cried. To be honest I never thought I had postpartum rage but reading this I know I have at times. I just tried oh so hard to ignore it. Thanks so much for your honesty and the sharing.

  8. I
    have
    been
    there.

    Exactly there.

    I was there for about 5 straight years.

    Thank you for being brave and speaking your truth. I will too.

  9. I can only imagine how this was for you; however, what you’ve written here describes perfectly my fears about having kids (which is part of the reason I haven’t had kids yet). Thank you so much for sharing your story, love.

    xoxo

  10. MamaRobinJ says:

    Thank you all for the supportive comments. I sat here and held my breath for ages after I posted that, and then when I saw the first comments I started to cry. I am so blessed by the support I have and I would do almost anything to help someone else who’s struggling with something similar. I just hate that there are so many of us.

    So much love for you all.

  11. You did tell me but I have always believed you could not do anything that is not in you. Everything’s going to be alright. C knows how much you love him. You know how much love you have coming from all directions. You cannot help biochemistry or unsupportive unprofessional medical people or those who misdiagnose and treat incorrectly. It is not your fault. You have done everything you possibly can and are continuing to do so. Everywhere you go, everything you do, we will be right here pulling for you, and loving you. XO <3

  12. You are so very brave and strong for sharing this story here. I dealt with similar issues when my youngest was born. My heart goes out to you. You have all of us behind you, always. {hugs}

  13. been there…being there…there but leaving there…getting better everyday
    thank you for writing this

  14. Robin, you are so brave to post this. Thank you for your honesty and for your willingness to help out all us mamas. We’re seeing each other through the rough patches of motherhood.

  15. I totally forgot to come back and retype my long ass comment from the first time round!

    I just wanted to tell you how brave you are for sharing this. For allowing a measure of hope for all those women who are going through this.

    I was never diagnosed with PPD, but I certainly had the blues. For at least 6 months, flashes of anger and rage, interspersed with giddy joy at my son, my love, my heart. Questioning myself, many times wondering if having him was the right thing. I like to think his love, yes, the baby’s love, pulled me out of the rubble that was me. The old me.

    You’ll be whole again Robin. Maybe not exactly the same as before, but a different, perhaps even better, version of you.

  16. Well, I hope, based on the support here that you feel comfortable about saying what you needed to say. It’s in us all. The light and the dark. We’re not really that unique in that, and sometimes all that separates a mom who maintains control from one who isn’t able to is SLEEP!! I think I got my first decent sleep in almost 4 years last week, only because my ‘boys’ were out of town. The plague of motherhood… sleep-deprivation.

    Sending you hugs and healing vibes and a virtual bouquet of lavender (just cause)!

  17. I experienced “The Rage” with my PPD as well. At the time I had no idea it was even related. I just thought I was a horrible person/mother. I never physically hurt my children, but I screamed at them. I’d hit the walls, furniture and I even slapped my own face full force. I wish I would have known to ask for help sooner. Thank you for honestly sharing your experience too. I hope it will help others realize they are not alone.

  18. I have so much to say and add to this of my own experiences but my mind is not ready and I have so much guilt for losing it with rage and every other emotion. I lost it once so bad I called my mom who is hours away by plane and she came out immediately. My then husband was not supportive, I had PPD (even on antidepressants), he was abusive to us all, and I knew if I didn’t leave that marriage I would harm myself and my children possibly too. I still have to work on myself and forgive myself someday. I am sorry that you have had a horrible time with this monster PPD as well. But you are writing about it and that is so wonderful. And you have readers who support and understand you, plus family.

  19. I’m so proud of you for telling your story.
    How well I know this.
    I remember the first time I uttered the words “I want to throw her out the window.”
    To me it was such a relief to say outloud but the blank stares I had staring back at me were not amused or relieved. They were concerned.
    I couldn’t figure out why.
    That’s when I started to think I might have a problem.
    Thank you for being a place for women to come.
    To talk.
    To feel normal.

  20. I’ve never been diagnosed with PPD, but I identify with so much of this that it scares me. I don’t think I had PPD with Lucas, but my subsequent miscarriages, which seems strange to me, but possible, right?

    You are so brave.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    I feel your pain and triumph through your words.

    I look forward to Part 2 and talking to you more in person about this at BlogHer.

  21. Kudos to you for being willing to share your painful journey. Letting other women know that they aren’t alone is huge. Your courage benefits others!

  22. Oh Robin. So much emotion and honesty. I never knew anger could be part of depression until that is what I was diagnosed with two years ago. Though mine was not PPD, I was truly angry all the time. A happy newlywed, until I wasnt…..and on those days, poor hubby and daughter stood by and took it. So much love to you.

  23. Thank you for sharing. It inspired me to share too. *sigh* We all need to be more honest. And to get help. Thank you.

  24. Hi Robin – it’s Amber Lena from PPDchat/FB. This? “I felt massively ripped off in my experience as a new mother. I still resent it.” Is the worst part. Describes my feelings perfectly after being so freaking angry for the first 16 months of my daughters’ lives. I will never get that precious time back. Its gone. And my memories of that time are so filled with guilt and shame. It just totally sucks. So, yeah, I get it. Much love, Amber Lena (@amberlenab & @PSIofWA)

  25. This is such a brave post and as a mother of a 22 month old I can totally relate. I still to this day have moments where I want to curl up in a corner and be by myself to cry and I am brave enough to admit that I have! As being a new mother I had to give up the desire to be perfect all of the time. We have limits. My daughter is a major whiner but that is totally not her fault. I often think of how I communicate to my husband and her when I want something but can’t get it out or get what I want and I discovered that I am a whiner myself. I dont know if it is her truly mimicking me or what but I try to look at things from her perspective. I pray that the uneasy roads are coming to an end and I pray for you on your mothering journey as well. We all could use more support and encouraging posts as these.

  26. This sums up how I feel most of the time. My husband says that I am the angriest person he knows. I know I wasn’t always this way though. I had my baby 17 months ago and I’ve been a different person since then. Deep down I know what kind of mom I want to be and i’m not doing it. It’s frustrating.

  27. I have one of those explosive tempers. So easy going the rest of the time and then boom – nuclear explosion. My oldest is usually the one who can push the button.

    we have all been there at some point at some time. Though you didn’t feel like you were coping at the time – you were.

  28. I’m not even sure what to write. I wrote in one of your other posts that I let it go 8 months…and I thought that was long. I have no idea how you survived as long as you did, suffering the way you did. I breastfed and didnt want to sacrifice nursing my son- so I waited to ask my doctor about this overwhelming feeling that was consuming my soul. I loved the baby- and THANK GOD he was good. My daughter turned 2- five days after my son was born and taking care of both of them on no sleep was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I constantly had a pit in my stomach and this rage that left me feeling like a monster daily…like my head would explode. It was an ongoing process after the 8 mos and I guess to some extent still is. Thank you for sharing your story. Hugging you in my mind!

  29. Very honest post, congratulations. :)

  30. Thank you for being brave and telling your story. It matters.

  31. Reading this post made me realize that I must have suffered from PPD because I certainly felt that rage and helplessness. It’s crazy to think how we are too scared to admit it and get help just because we don’t want the world to think we’re bad mothers or possibly to take our children away. That was my fear.

  32. I just want to say that this post has opened my eyes to something I’ve been dealing with since my daughter was born 8 mths ago. I have not felt anger at her but instead my husband and no patience towards my son. Thank you for the courage to write something so real that I think many of us deal with silently.

  33. I cried when I read this post because it’s something that I dealt with for over a year and a half after I got pregnant with my second child. I thought I was a horrible mother and the only one who had this problem. I touched on the anger issues briefly in this post: http://supermommyornot.blogspot.com/2010/12/too-long.html
    I’m pregnant with my third now and have some issues, but I know that a lot of that has to do with stress and depression and for some reason, knowing the “why” makes it easier to handle. I also talked to my doctor about it (hardest visit ever) and she advised me to get some counseling and gave me a prescription for prozac. Haven’t had to fill the prescription yet, but it makes me feel better just knowing I have it.

  34. Christine O'Connor says:

    I never experienced postpartum so reading this was very interesting and intense.

  35. I sit here in tears because I still feel this way…my anger (or rage as some of you have said) has gotten worse. I feel like I can’t control it….no matter how hard I try. Thank you for posting this….I know I am not alone and that what I feel is completely the norm when all the while people have told me it isn’t normal.

    • I think it’s normal in that it’s common. Not so much normal as in good. But you know that. :) I needed some help to get mine under control, which is the case for a lot of people. But being able to identify it is a great first step.

  36. Anonymous says:

    thank you.

  37. I could’ve written this almost 4 years ago. I thought I was going insane back then when my I had my baby. I have dents in my walls and a broken fan to show for it. I very nearly had self-inflicted wounds, though fortunately I was able to turn it off. The feeling of loneliness when you’re going through that is enough to make you feel like you’re trapped in hell. I just hope I can later help a new mom going through the same thing to understand that no one is alone in this.

    • It’s so much more common than I ever realized, and comments like yours have helped me see that. I’m so glad to be able to share my story to help others, and to have people like you who are also willing to make sure people don’t feel alone.

  38. Thank-you for writing this, its nice to have someone to relate to as i feel so alone and unable to open up to my husband or family. Whenever i raise my voice or show anger someone seems to be there to make me feel worse than i already am…how easy it must be to judge if they’ve never been there.

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  1. [...] Farewell, Stranger Resistance is futile so I write instead. My credo: Live the life you're meant to. Skip to content HomeAboutCommunitiesFeatured!What does “Farewell, Stranger” meanBlog LoveAwardsButtons & BadgesContactPPD Resources ← Postpartum Rage: My Story, Part 1 [...]

  2. [...] week I wrote a post in two parts. I used to think I would never share that story. I just couldn’t see how I could admit to [...]

  3. [...] was particularly the case after I posted about my experience with postpartum rage. In the short time since, I’ve had so many people contact me to say, “me [...]

  4. [...] you’re new here, well, I’ll just send you right to the really hard stuff as an example of just how honest I’m willing to be. (And also, hi! [...]

  5. [...] mom–a survivor of the darkness that is Postpartum Depression. Her two-part story about postpartum rage is one of the most honest and courageous pieces I have ever [...]

  6. [...] goodness for women like Kimberly, Robin, Lauren, and so many other women who are out there talking about their anger, helping each other [...]

  7. [...] outweighing the pride right now. I know I’ve written about all the things I spoke about  - the tears, the rage, and the accusations - but for some reason having this video out there is…different.But [...]

  8. [...] Part One and Part Two. I present them without comment. Except, thank you Robin. [...]

  9. How To Blog Honestly – Without Losing Your Dignity says:

    [...] start by telling you my most honest post – which I never, ever thought I’d write – was about my experience with postpartum depression [...]

  10. [...] you’re interested, I wrote more about my experience with postpartum rage. Share this:StumbleUponTwitterFacebookEmail Filed Under: Postpartum depression · [...]

  11. [...] know how hard it is to share hard stories. I’ve shared mine here – even the hardest one. But some people can’t do that, or don’t have a place to. (And a lot of people’s [...]

  12. […] Postpartum rage is so common, and I never imagined I’d find as many other new moms saying “me too” as I did when I finally started to share my experience with rage. […]

  13. […] my attempt to describe situations and reactions that were typical for me when dealing with postpartum rage. I’m not sure any words can accurately portray what that was like, but it’s my hope […]

  14. […] wrote about my experience with postpartum rage. I ended up having to write the story in two parts. I cried the whole […]

  15. […] week I wrote a post in two parts. I used to think I would never share that story. I just couldn’t see how I could admit to […]

  16. […] was particularly the case after I posted about my experience with postpartum rage. In the short time since, I’ve had so many people contact me to say, “me […]

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