ORIGINALLY POSTED: March 17, 2009
GUEST POST By Kristin Dorsey, past member of the babyREADY team
“Would you just sit still?! I don’t know why the snow is on the ground! [I] can’t answer any more questions right now! Stop crying!”
This is how the feelings of rage began. I felt overwhelmed, stressed, and tired and then I’d just let loose and forget who I was speaking to. And then I was flattened by guilt. A crushing wave of shame crashed over me and I was suddenly the worst [person] in the world. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I pull it together? [part removed due to threat of legal action]
I have a history of depression and when I became pregnant with my first baby I was very concerned about Postpartum Depression. I spoke with my midwives about it. [part removed due to threats of legal action] I guarded myself against any sadness, weepiness or other bad feelings that might have arisen after giving birth. With the exception of some normal baby blues, however, my emotional state after my first son was born was normal. Now, however, as I adjust to being the mother of two I find myself overwhelmed by unexpected emotions.
Do I feel depressed? Not exactly. Do I sit and weep inconsolably? Who has time? So, how do I feel? Angry. Ridiculously, illogically, uncontrollably angry. I am irritable, impatient, and resentful. Then I feel guilty, which makes me feel angry all over again.
After losing my temper [with people around me] and breaking dishes and other household items, I began to feel as though I was losing my mind. I am, after all, a doula and childbirth educator. I help other women and families prepare themselves for having babies. [part removed due to threat of legal action]
I thought briefly that this could be Postpartum Depression, so I did some research and found a list of symptoms:
• Feeling restless or moody
• Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed
• Crying a lot
• Having no energy or motivation
• Eating too little or too much
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Having trouble focusing or making decisions
• Having memory problems
• Feeling worthless and guilty
• Losing interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
• Withdrawing from friends and family
• Having headaches, aches and pains, or stomach problems that don’t go away
Well, what I was feeling just didn’t seem to fit the list. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t crying, and many of the symptoms (fatigue, memory loss, headaches, etc.) were, to me, just symptoms of being a [where I was in my life at this time. [part removed due to threat of legal action]
After several weeks of my anger and irritability becoming steadily worse, a very dear friend suggested that I go and see my family doctor to speak about how I’d been feeling. I reluctantly agreed. I was just so tired of feeling awful about myself and I felt [part removed due to threat of legal action]
When I spoke with my doctor about my symptoms he simply said, “You have classic Postpartum Depression.” I was relieved and surprised simultaneously. I couldn’t believe that I fit in that category when I didn’t feel sad at all, I was just angry… all the time at everyone. He said that for the majority of PPD-suffering moms, the most noticeable symptoms are anger and irritability. When you think of a woman suffering from PPD you often think of a mother, sitting with her baby, weeping and unable to get out of bed. This, at least in some ways, is an “acceptable” way for a woman (and a new mother) to behave. What is considered perhaps less acceptable is a new mom yelling at her children or going into her closet to scream instead of cry.
Many moms have been told that PPD is defined as being sad and crying uncontrollably. They might feel ashamed of their anger and unwilling to speak with someone about the rage-filled mother that they have become. They need to know that being angry, feeling resentful, and being irritable on a consistent basis are not just normal feelings that you have to live with. Perhaps we should refer to it as Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum Rage instead of depression. The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that up to 20% of women suffer from PPD. I wonder, if the spotlight shone more brightly on some of the “less ladylike” traits of PPD, that the number would rise significantly. Perhaps so many more mothers would get help.
I am getting help and it is getting so much better. [part removed due to threat of legal action] Are there some days when I still get angry and lose my temper? Absolutely. But they happen less often and when they do happen I am more easily able to get myself under control. It’s getting so much better, for me, but every time that I speak to moms or moms-to-be about PPD from now on the information and list of symptoms I give will be much different.
(We have heard from Katherine at “Postpartum Progress” and want to encourage moms who are wondering about PPD, think they may need more information about the way the are feeling or are worried they may be a candidate for PPD to check out her blog and the resources she shares on it. She has information for moms and moms-to-be in Canada and the US.)
A couple of other great articles about PPD — illuminating signs like anger as well as the more traditional PPD responses — are found at: