A Tale of Two Moms: Postpartum Rage

postpartum depressionI 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.

About Jen Gaskell

Wife, mom, business professional, writer, singer, dancer, runner, and yogi. Survivor of Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety. Co-producer of Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee. Stretching beyond my comfort zone.

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  1. ” I wanted to provoke him into rage like I was raging. I felt like I needed to rage and be angry against the whole world.” THIS. Jen, your courage here is going to help so many moms and families. Thank YOU.

    • Thank you for reading Susan. While writing this, I tried to delve into what was driving that rage.

    • Yes, this. I’ve never heard it put into words and never quite been able to identify it myself. My husband didn’t get the brunt of mine… that fell to my tiny, infant daughter. I wanted her to feel what I was feeling, but when I finally pushed too far and got a reaction, it would just make me madder that she was mad. I thought, like you, that I was losing my mind and didn’t deserve my family. I felt my daughter should have been born to a better mother, that my husband should have married someone better. My daughter is 16 months now and things are finally getting easier. PPR is a hell that I would not wish on my worst enemy. Thank you for sharing this. It helps SO MUCH, in a twisted way, to know someone else understands something in me that I didn’t understand myself. I even went to my doctor for PPD and told her rage was my biggest problem. She put me on meds, but she never explained to me that rage goes along with PPD sometimes. I learned that by doing my own research online. Again, thank you… it’s blogs like these that reassure me I’m not a terrible person.

      • Huge hugs Nichole. Sharing my story helped me heal so much. I wish we talked more about this as a symptom. I learned about postpartum rage right on this website. You are not a terrible person. You are a wonderful mom.

  2. I’ve scared myself with the road rages I get. Especially if my kids are in the car. I’m learning to control it and turn it off quickly if it occurs. It’s been a long hard four months. I’m just grateful people like you wrote the truth about postpartum rage! Google was my friend and I got help quickly.

    • Dez, the road rage was very strong with me as well. I use a lot of uplifting music in the car and tons of deep breathing to help me manage traffic and the road rage. Postpartum rage is so common, but it is not discussed as openly as depression and anxiety are. So glad that you got help quickly.

  3. Rage is the one symptom we can identify of what was to come through PPD/PPA and now bipolar disorder. It is a hard, hard struggle. I get in a very tight spot when my meds are off and the tempest blows. I did not know that existed until you and Susan were willing to share during #ppdchat

    • Huge hugs Charity. I found out about rage via a blog post initially. The explosive nature of the rage is so hard to control. I use exercise a lot to still manage it.

  4. So powerful, Jenny. So intense. And so real. Thank you for sharing your experience and your truth. Your words will remind so many others that they’re not alone out there feeling all of this. xo

  5. Oh man can I relate. I just think you’re awesome for putting it all out there.

    • Sandra, huge hugs for being able to relate. I talked with my husband before I posted about this to make sure he was okay with me sharing this part of my struggle. He contributed a few key sentences on how to heal a marriage that has weathered this kind of storm. I am so blessed to have his support and love.

  6. bellelotte says:

    I think i am suffering from PPD but rage might be my only symptom … but a very strong one. I have been on Google searching and came across this post and I can relate so much. I haven’t admitted to anyone because I feel so bad but I have been so mean to my toddler and angry with my baby. I have been physical with my toddler … not hitting her but grabbing, squeezing tighr or pulling her by her arm. I yell alot lately, punch the door when I’m so mad and am even happy when she hurts herself. When i go through the check list of PPD I don’t really have any other symptoms or if I do its very minimal. With the baby I punch the crib mattress when she won’t sleep and keeps crying … i can’t believe I am admitting it but I have even spanked her on more than one occasion. I really don’t or at least didn’t think I have PPD untiL today. Even writing this all out makes me sound like a monster. I have been telling myself its because i am not getting enough sleep but what if I never get enough sleep and continue on the same terrible path. I’m going to call my OB and make an appt for this week. I think I just needed to get this off my chest. Thank you for listening.

    • Huge hugs. Rage is a common symptom of postpartum depression. You are not a monster. You are not alone. Keep us posted about your appointment with your OB. You will get better. You are taking that first step to get the help that you need.

      • This is me and I’m scared. I tell and even hit my three year old who has normal three year old sass. My twins are 9 months and I’ve been telling my husband for over 3 months that I am overwhelmed but it doesn’t feel like PPD because in not sad. He is taking a lot of my anger lately and I feel like a terrible mother and wife. We are rural with no family within 8 hours. No neighbours close by and my husband was recently laid off so we are home together and clashing more when it should be a help that he is home. Instead he just retreats to the bush to do outside work leaving me with the three kids. I’m exhausted, isolated, and angry. It doesn’t feel like me at all. I can’t even get away for a break as I BF the twins so every four hours I’m needed (?). They won’t take bottles so no help there. I feel completely out of control when I’m angry which feels like all the time. Then I feel incredible guilt that I am ruining my three year old and failing to teach him how to handle emotions and build a strong relationship with him. I just don’t know what to do. I’m afraid to take meds and affect my milk supply- we cannot afford formula for two for sure. Just another way I’m feeling trapped. I’m not even sure we could afford meds as I don’t have prescription or counselling coverage while I’m on my mat leave. Not sure what the point of this post is (I see its a year old) but I guess I just needed to vent while holding one baby on me sleeping and the other had woken but if I move this one will wake. And my husband came in after my three year old rang the door bell outside and I yelled at both of them. (Sad face). Help?

  7. Brought me to tears. Thank you so much for writing this. Been in therapy for a year and the rage is coming back with a vengence. I can see the pain in my one-year-old and my three-year-old. When I hear my baby scream, he learned it from me. When I hear words come out of my preschoolers mouth I wish I had never said, I feel a deep sorrow. It makes me feel so much better that there are other moms who understand.