I hid this side of my struggle with postpartum depression from everyone but my immediate family. My postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety manifested itself in rage. Postpartum rage made feel like I suffered from a split personality disorder. On the outside, I appeared mostly together, just a somewhat stressed and frazzled new mom. Cut me off in traffic, and I would go from zero to sixty in two seconds. Rage felt visceral to me. I could feel the heat building up inside of my body. The tips of my ears and my cheeks would flush with anger and frustration. My vision became like a tunnel; I could only focus on the object of my rage. I could feel my heart pounding in my ears. I felt the need to hit something, anything. I threw remotes, books and phones. I slammed doors and drawers. My rage turned me into an out of control monster. I could barely recognize myself after one of these bouts of rage. Anything and everything could set me off. My poor husband, my sweet three-year old and my infant daughter took the brunt of my wrath. I yelled and screamed until my throat was hoarse. I had no idea at the time that these feelings were symptoms of postpartum depression. I believed that I was simply a horrible person who did not deserve the beautiful family that she had.
I felt like a pot constantly about to boil over. Everywhere I looked, I saw disorder and chaos. If my husband forgot to set something out that I needed in the morning like the bottles for the baby, that minor infraction was enough to make me lose my temper entirely. I felt completely unhinged when I was in the midst of one of my rages. I truly thought I was losing my mind.
My lowest point came when I pushed my husband in front of my oldest daughter. I wanted to provoke him into rage like I was raging. After that incident, I realized how out of control my rage was. I felt sick to my stomach realizing that my actions spoke louder than my words to my preschooler. How could I expect her not to hit if I did it? I was wracked with guilt and worry that I was damaging my child. I have not hit anyone since that time. I felt so much guilt and shame for my behavior that day. I regret that explosion more than anything.
I felt like I needed to rage and be angry against the whole world. I felt so much loathing and self-hatred. I could not understand what was happening to me as the rage took hold of me. I felt powerless in the grasp of my rage. I always dissolved into tears of shame and guilt after these blinding rage fits. Medication helped take the edge off of my rage. Another key component in managing the rage was therapy. I had to put in the hard work to recognize the early signs of rage that threatened to overwhelm me. I needed to identify the emotions that were my triggers. I used exercise to help manage both the anxiety and the rage. I welcomed company when I struggled with anxiety. When rage started to build, I needed to remove myself from the situation. Kickboxing, weight lifting and running were fantastic outlets for my rage.
Postpartum rage nearly destroyed my relationship with my husband. I lost myself within that rage, and I needed to repair the damage that I did. My husband and I went to counseling separately, and we went to counseling together. It took love, support, and lots of communication to repair the cracks in the foundation of our marriage. My husband reassured me that we pledged to love each other in sickness and health. That season of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety was my season of sickness. Postpartum rage brought me to my knees, and it threatened to consume me in its wake. I rose again, armed with compassion for myself and others, knowledge of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, and the belief that I would be well.