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Desarae on anxiety, anger and depression hitting her 6 weeks postpartum

mom holding baby in her lap - essay on postpartum anger

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

“Show a photo when you were at your lowest and no one knew…”

I kept seeing these posts and stories while I aimlessly scrolled through Instagram. I was 3, almost 4 months postpartum and I was struggling. A lot. It rang through my mind like a constant whisper. “You’re depressed. You need help. You’re not a bad mom. You love your daughter.”

And all of this was true. But I’ve always struggled with mood swings, and I struggled even more with reaching out for help. Seeing these posts always confirmed for me that I was both currently at my lowest, and I was scared to get help. I was scared that asking for help made me a bad mom, scared that my daughter would be taken away, and scared to be put on medication and not be able to continue breastfeeding. 

Related: Dear mama: There is no shame in asking for help

I believed I had prepared myself for the postpartum period. I had spoken to many girlfriends who had gone through it and I felt ready for the overwhelming emotions, hormones and exhaustion that came with postpartum.

The first few weeks went by and I was feeling wonderful. I had a healthy, beautiful daughter and I felt on top of the world. Those first couple of months, I had tons of energy, I felt happy and thankful everyday, I wasn’t struggling, and so I believed I was out of the woods. I truly thought that I had gotten through the toughest part of the “postpartum period,” those dreaded first 6 weeks. Little did I know what was coming

It happened slowly. I started to lose energy first. I didn’t want to cook. I would put off cleaning for days. I stopped working out. I never changed out of my pajamas. I stopped making plans with friends and other mamas, and I just felt an overwhelming fog of exhaustion.

Related: Secrets to better postpartum care from mothers across the globe

Then I started to get anxious. I had fears constantly running through my mind. Car accidents, something happening to my daughter, my husband leaving us, a major illness. You name it, I had thought of it. I felt anxious 24/7.

And then the anger set in. I always had a short temper, but it felt manageable before becoming a mom, and even in those first couple of months I felt I had it under control. But as time continued on I felt like the rage was simmering right under the surface, and the tiniest things would set me off. My husband coming home a tiny bit late, the dogs barking, the laundry piling up, the house being dirty, all caused me to snap.

Then I started feeling anger toward my daughter. When she wouldn’t nap, when she wouldn’t want to breastfeed, when she would scream. I would get so angry at her, and then at myself. There were many times I had to physically remove myself away from my daughter after making sure she was in a safe space, in fears of hurting her out of anger and frustration. Like I said, I was at my lowest.

Related: Mom rage is real—and it’s a sign that mothers’ needs aren’t being met

This was when I knew in my gut that I needed help, regardless of the fears that came with it. It took a bit of time to get the courage to reach out. This was around 4 months postpartum and I finally saw my doctor at 5 months. But once I did, it felt like a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was getting help. I was doing what I needed for myself and my daughter. I was a GOOD mother. 

I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and mood disorder, referred to a therapist, and given a prescription for Zoloft. That was about 3 weeks ago now, and I finally feel myself coming out of that fog. My energy is returning, I no longer feel anxious 24/7, and I finally don’t feel that rage that had been controlling me for months.

The picture I’ve included is my, “Show a photo when you were at your lowest and no one knew.” I can look through my camera roll and pinpoint exactly when I started struggling, and I can now also pinpoint when that fog lifted and I finally got the help I needed.

If my story gives courage to even one other mama struggling and scared to reach out for help, then I’ve done what I hoped to do. You are not alone. You’re a damn good mother. And it’s OK if your happiness is store bought and comes from a prescription. It really is OK. 

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