As much as I openly talk about my struggles with (postpartum) depression and anxiety on social media (Instagram especially), I’m guilty of shying away from one topic in particular.
That topic: anxiety-induced RAGE.
If you know, you know — It’s totally a thing. And I would say it’s the one part of my struggles that I am most ashamed of. It’s the thing I’ve struggled the worst with, and I think it has caused the most hardship. It’s something I’m deeply embarrassed about and it has caused many awful memories. Memories from my past when I was undiagnosed and felt awful about myself every minute of every day because I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I thought I was crazy! People I *thought* loved me would laugh at me and call me crazy. It was some of the darkest times in my life and looking back now, I really don’t know how I made it through it all. And those memories still haunt me; PTSD that bring on nightmares that feel almost too real.
Now as a mom, something I’ve struggled with since day one, the rage struggle is REAL.
When I think back on maternity leave, I can feel the rage I felt while trying to pump while Ellie screamed/cried and Troy barking because the baby was upset. I couldn’t control the anger I felt because everything was so overwhelming, and I just felt hopeless. I felt lost; not able to control my emotions or feeling like I was drowning. No matter what I did, it never felt good enough and when I felt as if I couldn’t breathe with every frustrating moment, the more rage I felt fostering inside.
I’m finally writing about this now because honestly, I know I’m not alone. I realize now that I wasn’t crazy back in my 20’s or during maternity leave or even now. I was just not diagnosed and therefore wasn’t getting the (professional) help I needed. And if you’re reading this right now and this resonates with you, I assure you — you are NOT ALONE. You are doing the best you can and please don’t feel any less because of it all.
What can be even tougher is no one really understand it unless they’ve been through it. The way your blood starts pumping, and you feel that anger go from 0 to 100 at the snap of a finger. I desperately wish I could control it but often I feel as if it’s totally out of my control; unmanageable. My husband doesn’t understand it and that’s OK because why should he? But it’s hard because it can turn the littlest fight into a blowout and he doesn’t understand why. In hindsight, the initial topic we were arguing about is not a big deal, right? Right. But also, wrong.
To him, it may be a simple thing he forgot to do, but to me, it’s the mental heaviness of feeling as if I must remember and be on top of everything. The anxiety rises and that pressure to be on top of everything builds. It’s exhausting and mentally crippling. The worst part of it all? Amid an “episode”, Ellie could be on my last nerve because she won’t listen, and I blow up at her and that may be the worst feeling in the world. Steve’s simple reply of “it’s OK, she’s only a kid” or “she’s fine” doesn’t help matters at all — it just makes the guilt of it all feel even worse and it breaks my heart.
And honestly, often, you really can’t help it. A simple thing done wrong or put out of place can cause you to fly off the handle. Not because it’s important; it’s probably the furthest thing from it. But because the anxiety builds and builds until the rage just bursts. Ever heard the phrase “no sense in crying over spilled milk?” Well, sometimes you can’t help but cry over it because you can’t control it and I hate that. SO much.
The one part of my struggles with mental health illness that I really am ashamed of because it seems so childless in a way. I wish I could be better. I desperately try to be better. It’s still such a work in progress.
In reality, I really didn’t see how much it was affecting my life again until an episode back at the beginning of the year that left me feeling broken down, drowning, guilty, and undeserving of any type of love. I woke up that next day knowing I needed to do something – and that something was going back to therapy routinely… and by routinely that meant regularly; not just a few times and then lying to myself, insisting I was better. There is absolutely no shame in accepting the fact that you may need help. It’s made things better for me, and my family, especially through this pandemic. I still have a long way to go but changing my daily medications and working through my thoughts and feelings has helped. And you know what? Progress is progress regardless.
Still, I struggle with it all. One minute all is good and the next, the pressure within is bubbling out of control. This is a hard thing to write about or even show this side of me because it is personal and embarrassing; a trait that’s so ugly. I can feel my heartbeat faster and my anxiety rise as I type this, but you know what? This is something we need to talk about more — especially during the pandemic for (new) moms and others struggling with social isolation, lack of support, and managing high levels of stress while trying to balance work, children, and life!
For me, I know running helps me burn off some of that rage and anger — so that’s the self-care I’ll always carve out time for no matter what – and I refuse to feel guilty for that. PLEASE make sure you’re doing the same for yourself. (I know this is a tough time but make that time for yourself. You deserve it.) But sometimes you also need more than some daily self-care time and that’s OK too. Just know, as always, you aren’t alone… and if this post hits close to home for some reason or another, I know you know that the anxiety rage struggle is SO real and I hope acknowledging that from someone else’s words helps you today.
Keep your head up. Tough times don’t last but tough people do, right?
We got this.