What Postpartum Rage Looks Like

As you know, I’ve been a regular contributor to Postpartum Progress for a while now. I still am, but I’m now joined by a whole editorial team, known as the Warrior Mom Leadership Team. Each of these amazing women advocates for postpartum mental health in her own writing or her own work, and now we’ll all take turns throughout the year sharing our voices, our stories, and our hope on the Postpartum Progress blog.

This week is my week on the site, and I’ll be sharing a couple of posts over there. The first one is up now, and it’s 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 this post will make another new mom feel less alone.

Have you experienced this type of thing? I’d love for you to visit and let me know if my descriptions resonate with you.

Living in the Light

Rich and I had a fight not long after Ethan was born. We had both been sick – him first and then me. I got really sick. And I got pink eye. Twice. And, as is the way with many breastfeeding moms, I was up at night while Rich slept. And, as is the way with many moms who are up in the night while their partners sleep, I was cranky about it because being up so much made it hard to get better. And that’s what caused the fight.

I won’t get into all the picky details, but it was about sleep – the too-little of it I was getting, and my perception that he wasn’t helping me out as much as he could have. And then he pointed out that when he was at home and I was working when Connor was little he never got a sick day either.

“You didn’t ask for help!” I countered.

“I did,” he replied, much more calmly than was probably warranted.

long shadow in the sunlightThe thing is, I have no recollection of that. I don’t recall him being sick and me going off to work leaving him to fend for himself (and the energetic two-year-old).

I don’t recall a lot of things from that time.

This is one of the things about postpartum depression that — in my experience, anyway — is so hard to deal with. It’s like living in a fog, except that fog leaves those weeks or months completely socked in so that there’s never a clear picture of them, even afterwards. My particular fog was built from my anger — my rage — as if spewed forth from a fog machine I couldn’t turn off.

But it’s not like I don’t remember anything from that timeframe. Just certain things. Often big things. It’s come up in conversation a few times, where someone will be recalling something, and every single time I’ll think, “I have absolutely no recollection of that.” It just doesn’t exist as a page in my memory book. Whether torn out or never properly recorded I don’t know. It’s just not there.

I’m not really sure the point of telling you this, except to say that this time is different.

Now, I know when I’m being a bitch. I know when I’m picking a fight (and sometimes I do it anyway). I know when I’m not doing what I need to do for myself.

It doesn’t always make it easier to do what I need to do, but at least this time I’m living in the light.


Speaking of happy things, I’ve heard about three recently that are making the world a better place and I’d like to share them with you:

For the first time, there’s a product dedicated to helping fight postpartum depression. Jammies are the creation of Hélène Laure, a fashion designer whose clothing designs for women have been sold to such specialty stores as Henri Bendel, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. Helene wanted to create a new business that gives back, so she designed Jammies with the intention of helping to benefit moms with postpartum depression. For each Jammies Jar sold, Helene’s company, Two Mice, A Bear and A Bunny LLC, will donate 10% of the profit to Postpartum Progress, the national nonprofit that raises awareness of postpartum depression and promotes better support and services for pregnant and new mothers with mental illness.

150x150JammiesadThese onesies are so cute (perfect for gifts). Here’s the description:

“100% pure cotton onesies for boys and girls made from a soft and breezy light gauge cotton Jersey that are are uniquely packaged in a sweet little jam jar. The design is reminiscent of the all-American long john, with its henley tab closing and ribbed cuffs, and a flirty ruffle added to the girls’ style. Mr. Bear, Lily (the bunny) and Cinnamon & Ginger (the identical mouse twins) are the delightfully hand-drawn characters featured on Jammies onesies.”

You can see read more about them (and order them) on the Jammies page on Postpartum Progress.


peacelove-teePeaceLove is working to combat the stigma against mental illness. One of the biggest ways they’re helping is through their giveback program: for each PeaceLove tee purchased, they give away a free expressive arts class to a child affected by mental illness. They just launched a tee campaign with the hopes of giving away 100 free expressive art classes (and they’re really close!).


February 27 is Pink Shirt Day, an anti-bullying campaign supporting Boys and Girls Clubs/Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you’re in Calgary, you can get an official pink shirt at any London Drugs. (And if you’re not, wear a pink shirt anyway.)

Badges and Black Holes: The Gifts of PPD

PPD badgeA couple of weeks ago I quietly changed the badge in my sidebar. If you scroll down you’ll see my warrior mom badge on the right, which used to say, “I’m surviving postpartum depression. You can too.”

No more. Now it says, “I survived.”

I waited a while to make that change, even though I wanted to swap my badge out as soon as I felt remotely normal. But I’ve previously thought I’d kicked PPD to the curb and it turned out that (really) wasn’t the case. Call it prudence, call it superstition – whatever it was, I wasn’t prepared to jinx things by updating that badge too soon.

I’m now ready to declare this battle won. Not that I don’t still have tough times; thanks to my fellow warrior moms I know it’s not that simple. I know sometimes I’ll get smacked down and have to get myself back up again, and that’s okay. The beauty in all this is that I know it now, so I’m prepared for it. And I consider that knowledge a gift. Jackson Pollock | Composition

I didn’t understand the value of being able to identify my emotions until quite recently. I’ve always been an emotional person but looking back I see my emotions as Pollock-esque splatters of paint thrown on the canvas of life, an expression of something perhaps not everyone understood.

Now I’m creating my art – my life – in a different way. The outcome is less a splatter and more a rainbow, with different lines of the arc of my life representing different pursuits that come together in a much more brilliant – and recognizable – whole. (Make no mistake, though. I will never be the sort of person who colours inside the lines.)

I know there will be some dark and cloudy days but now I can identify them and, as with a weather forecast, know they will be temporary.

The one bit of darkness that stubbornly refuses to disappear is what I call black holes. My experience with postpartum depression has left me with gaps in my memory. As previously noted, when my husband said, “I was in an abusive relationship for a year” I didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. Even still, I have absolutely no recollection of how I treated him during that time.

C’est la vie. I can – will have to – deal with it. He has. We have, together. It is what it is and remembering wouldn’t change it.

What I do find disconcerting is these black holes popping up in my day-to-day. In the Before, I was organized and could keep everything in my head – my appointments, my to-do list, my grocery list. Now I have a calendar AND a task list AND reminders set for everything I’m supposed to do. If I don’t create those reminders – and, sadly, sometimes I forget to do that too – I don’t remember. Even with a list I go to the grocery store and often come home without toilet paper.

And don’t even get me started on my sense of direction. I never had much of one to start with, and now I’m easily getting lost twice a week. In my own city. Thank goodness I’m able to laugh at myself.

All I can say is I sincerely hope these black holes are temporary. If not, I suppose I can always become an emotionally unstable painter and hope some people will consider me a genius.


Speaking of postpartum depression and remembering things (or not remembering them, as the case may be), I’ve got a guest post up at The Koala Bear Writer today. I met Bonnie at a local writers’ workshop and she kindly asked me to share some information about PPD on her site. I’m happy to be over there today sharing what I think people should know about PPD (based on my experience, anyway). I’d love it if you’d come and visit, and while you’re there please say hi!

This I Believe – Guest Post By Yael Saar

I am absolutely, joyfully, dancing-ly happy to have Yael here today sharing this amazing post. She added this as a page on her blog, PPD to Joy, not long ago and I just ate it up. I’m excited to share it here today because I think you’ll be able to relate.

This post is about postpartum depression, and about motherhood. But it’s also about relationships and hard days and things that suck. So it doesn’t matter if you’re not a mom or haven’t suffered through PPD – I still think this will speak to you. My suggestion: find a quiet spot, wherever and however you can, and read this. Really read it. Allow it to sink into your brain. I bet your breathing will be deeper and your shoulders lower when you finish.


Love is a renewable resource, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The more you love, the more you love.

This can be hard to feel, and even harder to believe.
Love is magic.
It works regardless of whether you can feel it.
Regardless of whether you believe in it or not.

Being kind is underrated.
Being right is overrated.
When in doubt, choose kindness.
Especially to yourself.

(Go slow and you’ll get there faster. Baby steps will take you farthest.)

About Motherhood

Motherhood is the hardest job on the planet.
Even if you’ve climbed Mt. Everest, you know kids can challenge you more than the tallest peaks.
Miraculously, unbelievably, (thankfully) this is, somehow, all worth it.
But why does this have to be so hard?

My kids are the best kids ever. And so are yours.
The fact that they can drive us crazy is beside the point.

Kids, especially toddlers, are physicists and social scientists.
They test the limits of gravity, safety, and patience.
They yank our chains for a living.
This ain’t easy on the mom.

Yelling at children is unavoidable.
Striving to yell less is important, learning grump-management is helpful, but let’s not kid ourselves, raising our voices at our loved ones is not about to go extinct.
Giving ourselves permission to yell when we are at the end of our rope just might keep yelling from turning into screaming.

Hugs are more important than food.
If we hug our kids more often than we yell at them, all of us will turn out all right.

(Baby steps will take you farthest.)

About Postpartum Mood Disorders

You are not broken.
You are not damaged.
You are struggling.
Every struggle is an opportunity for growth.

You don’t have to like this to survive this.
You don’t have to like this to learn and grow from this.
This sucks, so of course you don’t like this.
You have a right to be angry. How could you not be?
You have a right to be scared.

When you allow your anger and fear to be heard, they cannot rule you.
Interacting with them gives you power in situations you don’t have power over. Running away from your emotions means you can never rest.

If you fight your anger tooth and nail, it will turn into rage and guilt.
If you fear your fear, it will turn into anxiety and panic.
Fighting your emotions only feeds your demons.

Healing cannot happen in a war zone.
Permission-Based Healing is far more effective.

You are not lazy.
You are exhausted.
So is your partner.

Until you get enough sleep, try to respect your capacity, or lack thereof.
Accepting that being grumpy is unavoidable helps.
It is possible to be grumpy without being mean.
Yes, this is hard.

Trust turns caves into tunnels.
When you can’t find the light at the end of your tunnel, dare to ask someone to light a candle and hold your hand.

Asking for help is hard. Very hard. And scary.
And it is the first step to recovery.
If you only learn one thing from having to deal with this darn mood disorder, let it be how to ask for help effectively.
No, you will not be good at this right away. And that’s OK.

(Baby steps will take you farthest.)

About the Role of Community in Recovery:

Community is my favorite word.
I wouldn’t be alive without my family and my community.

Every single person has skeletons in their closet.
Well, these things only look like skeletons, because it’s so dark in there.
When we dare to bring them out into the light, we discover that the skeletons are simply our very human, very scared selves.
Inviting our scared selves out to play can be petrifying.
Sharing our scary stories with others creates community while connecting all of us on the deepest level.
In my experience such trust is always rewarded handsomely.

This is how we trust in the healing power of community.
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and human, we allow others to do the same. And we all get stronger together.

Words build community.
When fighting doesn’t bring peace, writing does.
I believe every one of us is capable of writing for healing.
Not ready to write yet?
Read. Speak. Cry. Sing…

(Baby steps will take you farthest.)


See? Is that not one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever read? In one post she manages to address all kinds of things that have lurked in the shadows for me.

One of the links above, to Yael’s Permission-Based Healing page, is another new resource on her site. I’ve talked to a lot of people about accepting whatever threatens to overwhelm you – anxiety, rage, grief, whatever it is – and letting it in. Most say I can’t. I’m scared to. I’m afraid if I do I will sink. I know. I was too. I did too. But this approach is the thing that finally allowed me to get better, and one of the people I have to thank for that is Yael. She knows, because she’s been there too. Have a look at that page and let Yael know what you think. (But be gentle with her, she asks – it’s a subject close to her heart.)

Yael is also the one behind the PPD SpeakEasy support calls. When I first heard about these I told Yael (before I really knew her) that I couldn’t really imagine talking to strangers on the phone about my struggle with PPD. I got over it and joined in (I’ve even hosted) and in an upcoming post I’ll tell you about the last call, because it really was a very cool experience. (And if you have a site where you share PPD resources, consider posting Yael’s badge? Pretty please?)

Thank you, Yael, for all you do for our community. We love you for it.


Hello, Inspiration: From My Heart

Inspiration, at times, is something simple but powerful.

This 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 that stuff.

As time went on, though, I knew I needed to write about it.

After conversations last week, I knew I needed to do write about it now so other people struggling with the same things could read it and know it’s okay. That it will be okay.

I wrote the whole thing and had a good cry. I went to bed, got up and revised and edited. I got my husband to read it to make sure he was okay with it and I asked him the question I’d been scared to ask for months.

I sat in front of my computer. I looked at my husband, who knew I could do it. So I held my breath and hit ‘publish’.

I held my breath for a long time.

I had no idea what kind of a response I’d get. I was sure some would be supportive (especially since I’d called on my #PPDChat army for back-up) but I was waiting for the haters.

They didn’t come.

I got nothing but amazing support. I got emails. I got DMs on Twitter. I got messages on Facebook.

I was totally overwhelmed. I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for the support.

I also got messages from women who aren’t ready – who may never be ready – to admit publicly that this is an issue for them too but who wanted to reach out to someone who understands.

Knowing that sharing the hard parts of my story helps other people is inspiring. It’s why I write.

Odds are I will never be able to reach every mom who struggles with this and thinks she’s alone. But it doesn’t matter.

I’m inspired to try.