True life: I had postpartum rage and depression (and didn’t realize it)

If you feel this way too, you’re not alone.

True life: I had postpartum rage and depression (and didn’t realize it)

It starts the second I walk in my door. Let me set the scene: My 3-year-old is crashing his cars into the wall and my baby is wailing. Dishes are piled in the sink, the leftover grilled cheese sandwich from my toddler’s lunch is still on the kitchen table, and little things like my baby’s pacifier and my husband’s socks are scattered everywhere. It sends me into a cleaning frenzy.

And then, the rage sets in.

By the time I realize I’m shaking, I rush into another room to count to 10 before I start yelling.

I hear my toddler in the other room asking my husband in the background, “Where did mommy go?” “Is mommy mad?”

“Mommy is done,” I say to myself. Mommy wants to leave, Mommy wants to stomp out of the house and slam the front door. Mommy wants to stop being mommy for just five minutes and Mommy wants to sit alone without a body crawling on top of her.

That’s usually how it plays out when my depression and anxiety rear its ugly head. I feel defeated and too tired to even cry.

My heart hurts because I love my family but I lose my temper over and over. Even when I don’t want to. I know I shouldn’t feel like this but I do, and I’m terrified.

Have I lost my mind? Do I have an anger problem? There are days I don’t recognize myself. Days where I wonder where my smile went. I wasn’t always this way though, it wasn’t until I had my second child when I began to realize I needed help.

My newborn was around eight weeks old but it all felt different this time around, something was off.

My toddler could put his shoes on the wrong feet and I would become so angry I could spit nails. He could accidentally forget to flush the toilet and I would become hot under the collar with rage. He once asked if he could have cereal instead of waffles for breakfast and I acted like the world was ending. This is when I knew I wanted help.

A few weeks after that breakfast breakdown I had my first appointment with a therapist.

I hauled my newborn with me and sat across from her on a big blue couch. She said, “Tell me, how are you today? What are you feeling?”

It felt like such a loaded question because I was feeling so many ways about so many different things in my life. The most concerning though, was my anger. I let her lead the conversation because I felt guarded and afraid of what this might all reveal about me.

It wasn’t until the following session when I said, “I’m losing my temper about every little thing and it’s starting to scare me.” From that point on, I was an open book and 45 minutes later my therapist said, “What you’re feeling is more common than you think.”

That was my aha moment. She told me what I was feeling was normal and that my anxiety and depression were manifesting as anger.

But could it be true? Were there other moms out there who felt this? Who seemingly yelled at their kids sometimes for no reason at all and who spiraled out of control when things were not in order?

At two months postpartum I was diagnosed with adjustment disorder with depression, anxiety, and a little bit of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). That was one hard pill to swallow for me, because it meant that I had to admit to having a mental illness.

After the first few sessions I felt ready to explain my feelings to my husband.

Before bed one night I said, “I’m trying to be more aware of what exactly is triggering my anger. I don’t like feeling this way.”

He responded, “You’re okay. The world isn’t ending, we’ve got a roof over our heads—just smile.” That was his way of being supportive and helpful, but the positive reinforcement didn’t help, in fact, it made it worse. And although I knew it was well-intentioned I didn’t need to be cheered up, I didn’t need to be told to smile. I just wanted someone to tell me my feelings were valid.

And I couldn’t just “shake it off,” because the chemical imbalance in my body doesn’t work that way.

I spent weeks trying to be happier, trying not to sweat the small stuff. I even let the dishes collect in the sink to test my anxiety. But that isn’t how therapy works. You’re not “cured” once you talk about your thoughts and feelings, rather, you learn how to manage those thoughts and feelings. You learn what your triggers are and you learn what you can do before that anger boils over.

It’s been four months since that first therapy session and I’m feeling better.

My husband and I are on the same page and I’ve got a set of coping mechanisms in place if I ever feel that shiver up my spine. It’s slow in the making, but I feel more equipped and able to handle that monster I call ‘Rage.’

There are days when I’m like a dog with two tails and other days when I’m in a black mood, but talk therapy has allowed me to express myself to someone objectively, with no strings attached.

So, I say this to my fellow mama’s struggling with depression and anxietyI get it.

You’re dealing with a chronic mental illness with an endless cycle of ups and downs. I know that tight feeling you get in your chest and the tidal waves of emotions that overcome your body at any given moment.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how to be happy.

Battling depression and anxiety is hard. Raising children is hard. And doing them at the same time sometimes feels impossible. But keep fighting and know that you are not alone.

Somewhere out there is another mama setting down her cup of coffee, clenching her fists and counting to 10 in her head.

Somewhere out there is me, and we’re in this together.

Get the help you need and take care of yourself, mama.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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These kids dishes don’t look like kids dishes

And that's exactly why my toddler loves them. ❤️

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Well, you can see where this is going.

I had to find something that would satisfy his "not a baby" opinions but still not shatter to pieces if he accidentally drops it on the floor. I had to find him something that's made for kids but doesn't feel made for kids.

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You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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