I’m very happy to introduce you all to Gillian. We connected back in June and I was immediately drawn to her beautiful, honest and loving spirit.
When Gill sent me this post, I got immediate goosebumps. Honestly, it wasn’t even something I had really considered as a sign of my PPD but looking back – I was angry A LOT. I never talked about it because like Gill says below “I also think the idea of angry mothers is incredibly frightening.” We assume anger is anger and that it’s wrong.
I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did.
Did you know that depression can manifest as anger?
Because I sure didn’t.
After my son, William, was born four years ago, I remember going through all of the postpartum screenings. Will was gaining weight as he should and thankfully was hitting the appropriate milestones after putting us through a bit of a scare during his labour. When it came time for the family doctor to ask about my mood, I would shrug it off. I knew I didn’t have postpartum depression: I didn’t feel like hurting myself or my baby. I was showering regularly. I made it out to every mom and baby group I could sign us up to. I went back to work full time after four months, and I was back to my pre-baby weight.
I knew I was rocking this whole motherhood thing. If grades were being given out, I was confident I’d be getting an A.
But under the surface, I was constantly on edge. The smallest thing would set me off and the only people who would see it were those closest to me. I would blow up at my husband for not washing the baby’s bottles properly. I’d send passive aggressive texts to my mom. I’d get so angry that my body would shake… and then I’d blow up and weep from shame.
But I, of course, didn’t have postpartum depression.
When my daughter was born two years after my son, I also had a postpartum depression screening: “You don’t have postpartum, do you?” a nurse asked me as I was leaving the mom and baby unit. “Don’t think so, no,” I replied. I would know if I had postpartum depression, right?
At our two-month checkup, my family doctor took me through the now-very-familiar mood questionnaire, and, as usual, I said no to the whole list. But then, as almost a throw away, he mentioned to be aware of anger. He told me that with new mothers, he sees postpartum depression show up as anger more than sadness.
For the next two weeks I rolled that thought over and over in my head. Finally, one morning, it all clicked. This anger that felt uncontrollable? The rage that sat like a load of bricks on my chest? This was postpartum depression. And once I started on mood medication, I felt a whole lot better.
I don’t blame my family or my health care providers for not identifying my mood disorder sooner—I did a really good job of masking it. That being said, I think that anger and depression is something that often slides under the radar.
Anger and motherhood is something that we don’t talk about a lot. And why is that? Well, first off, it’s a lot easier to feel sympathy for someone who is sad rather than someone who will tell you to mind your own business. I also think the idea of angry mothers is incredibly frightening. Mothers are the givers of snuggles, the preparers of snacks, the keepers of schedules. Our moms are home and safety: how scary is it to think about there being a volcano about to erupt who is making dinner in the kitchen?
All around me, on social media, among my mom friends, in my kids’ schools, I see hints of my struggle with anger and postpartum depression. I can feel the electricity of rage and anger and that, ultimately, they are masking deep sadness.
Mamas get angry…and it’s okay to be angry. Let’s talk about it and give it voice. Let’s remove the shame and stigma. Let’s remember that those who act unloveable sometimes need the most love of all.
Follow Gill on Instagram @GillianBuckleyYoga
Learn more about Gill on her website GillianBuckley.ca
If you’re experiencing signs or symptoms of Post Partum Depression or Post Partum Anxiety, please reach out to your family doctor or a mental health professional. You don’t have to suffer alone. There is NO shame in seeking help.