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Rage Against the Baby

January 5, 2011
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This month’s Good Housekeeping has an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow where she talks about her experience with postpartum depression.

“I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child,” she’s quoted as saying. “But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about.”

Smart woman, that Gwyneth.

That’s what I thought postpartum depression was, too. Then I read Brooke Shields’s book, which, while heartbreaking, didn’t reflect my experience either (though her experience of being totally detached from your baby sounds like it was similar to what Gwyneth experienced).

My problem was anger. Rage, actually. At best I was impatient, but more often really annoyed. Irritable. And from there I was just a blink away from total rage.

Rage is a horrible thing to experience at the best of times, and downright scary when you have a small baby who’s completely dependent on you. I managed to put him down and walk away when I really needed to, but some days it took every ounce of strength to do that, stand outside his door and breathe long enough to calm down.

I never knew anger and rage was a symptom of depression. Had no idea. I think that’s why I denied the postpartum depression label for so long – because I wasn’t generally what I considered “depressed”.

But it is a symptom, and more common than I realized. So if you or someone you know is experiencing this, ask for help. And remember that it’s okay to talk about it, because you’re not alone.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2011 8:57 pm

    Like you, I had no idea that PPD was anything other than crying and not caring for my baby. With my first, I had crippling anxiety (whole story here: http://rediscoveringdomesticity.com/for-moms/postpartum-mood-disorders/). This time around has been fairly uneventful with just a few bad days here and there. I started the spiral once, immediately had my thyroid adjusted, and felt normal again. Praying I’m just due for another adjustment and nothing more. I hadn’t realized that the rage could be a symptom. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Andrea permalink
    January 11, 2011 1:19 pm

    The thing that has helped me the most with my anger is taking breaks. Little kids are relentlessly demanding. I read somewhere that a SAHM needs 3- 2 hour breaks per week at least. That sounds good to me. When I don’t take breaks, I start to get resentful and that builds to anger. I haven’t done it yet but I’m going to drop my kids off at hourly childcare and go have lunch by myself one day. Seems like something always comes up though- car problems, sick kids, but I’m going to do it soon. Baby steps, right? One more thing- my church puts on a marriage class that features the first half hour of a catered candlelight dinner with just your spouse and you at a table. That was so wonderful last year. I think we’re going to sign up again this spring too. Banding together makes the cost reasonable.

  3. Kendra permalink
    January 11, 2011 8:18 am

    Thank you for being the first person who shares how I felt with PPD. I was so angry – at EVERYONE. My new baby, my husband, my 3 year old…they all were targets. I think because I wasn’t in bed all day or crying no one took my feelings seriously including my OB/GYN. This is something I feel should be discussed more in terms of PPD and I thank you for sharing!

  4. January 10, 2011 3:13 pm

    thank you for your honesty. This needs to be spoken of MORE. you are not alone, i can soooo relate!

  5. January 8, 2011 10:29 pm

    I also had anger as my main “issue” with PPD! And I, too, thought it was more about sobbing 24/7 more than anything.

    Thanks for sharing…

    PS
    I found you through Postpartum Progress!

  6. brandi permalink
    January 8, 2011 12:54 pm

    Rage and anger were my symptoms too. Even though I’m considerably better in regards to the PPD now, I am always comforted to see that someone else had the same issues! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jessica permalink
    January 7, 2011 4:23 pm

    Found you through postpartum progress. Rage is my worst symptom and until I read this, I never even realized it was a symptom of PPD. My kids don’t deserve it and maybe now I’ll get the help I need. I am looking forward to your posts. It sounds like our experiences with PPD may be very similar. Thank you for coming forward with your story.

  8. Colleen permalink
    January 7, 2011 3:57 pm

    Can I ask you how old your son was when you experienced the rage? My daugher is 14 months old and I am still struggling with this from time to time.

    • January 7, 2011 4:15 pm

      Hi Colleen – for sure, although I’m not sure I can give you a really specific answer as I can’t remember when it really started. He was pretty young (3, 4 months old maybe, at one instance I recall specifically). I’d say I felt this way up until a few months ago, even after starting medication. And I still get a flash of rage sometimes, but I’m much better at controlling it (if not preventing it yet). Happy to talk more about it and the strategies I use if that would be helpful.

  9. January 7, 2011 3:29 pm

    Thank you- I’ve been reading a number of stories that don’t match my experience either- I had an onset when my daughter was 5 months, and the rage, pit-of-my-stomach anger is the worst part.

  10. January 7, 2011 11:04 am

    Becky, thank you so much for this comment. That’s totally the point of putting this story out there, and I’m so immensely glad to hear it’s helped someone else.

  11. January 7, 2011 10:17 am

    I found this link through the Postpartum Progress site and had to come thank you. My own PPD mainfested as overwhelming sadness and endless tears for the first few months. And when the tears stopped, all I felt was rage.
    Im glad to know Im not alone!

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