motherhood, postpartum

No Beauty, Just Beast

*trigger warning* This blog post will talk in depth about the ugly side of PP recovery and mental illness.

I’m not gonna lie, my PP recovery was pretty easy. Sure, no one enjoys sitting on an ice pack and spraying witchhazel on your vajayjay 4x a day or not being able to control your pee (uhm no one warned me about that and I have a bone to pick with alllll of you) but other than that, I was good. I managed. I knew I was lucky. I knew so many women tore hole to hole, had a major surgery to recover from, had a traumatic birth experience… the list goes on.

I had a bit of the baby blues, like many. Breastfeeding was… hard. (That’s a whole separate post). But I was getting by. I thought, “you know what? I can do this!” And then everything changed around 8 weeks.

Call it what you want, but the result is that my “baby blues” slowly turned into depression. My anxiety got so much worse. And my intrusive thoughts were bombarding me every chance they got. The lack of sleep made me rageful? Is that a word? No? Well it is now.

I had gone to my 6 week checkup with the OB. You know, the one where they give you a 10 question survey to “identify” if you have depression. The problem is, that survey is completely outdated and a slap in the face to those who truly struggle with depression. Because all it basically asks is “are you crying all the time? have you contemplated suicide? do you lay in bed all day?”

No, no, and no. I cry a lot because I’m tired but I can’t lay in bed all day, even though I need to. I’ve got a newborn to take care of. So as you can guess, I passed with flying colors. Depression is so much more than laying in bed, crying all day. Sure, it can be that for some, but most of the time, it’s no motivation to do the things you previously loved to do. Finding no joy in what used to bring you happiness. It can be hopelessness, among many others.

just a couple of weeks postpartum here. my mom took this photo, and I was crying, after experiencing overwhelming anxiety from going out in public.

So, I struggled for 9 months. 9 MONTHS. Before I hit such a low point that I was afraid of myself, and scared of what my baby would come to know as his mother. I was in a new state, with no friends or family near me. I had NO ONE. It took me a month to work up the courage to call up a brand new doctor and be seen. And then I rescheduled my appointment because I was having so much anxiety.

I’m doing better now, thanks to first and foremost, the miracle of modern medicine (aka Zoloft) and a wonderful PCP who listened to me without judgement and got me the help that I desperately needed.

But, I’m frustrated and quite frankly, angry, at my OB for the lack of care I experienced. Not a single person sat me down and tried to have an open conversation with me to see how I was doing. No one warned me that my lifetime history with anxiety and OCD tendencies would predispose me to PPD and PPA. And not a single person seemed to care about anything beyond suicidal depression. Of course, that is beyond important, but I was experiencing so much anxiety, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house. My intrusive thoughts would come at all hours of the day and night. I would pick up a knife to cut a vegetable and picture myself dropping it on my baby and killing him. Violent, graphic images filled my head of my sweet, innocent baby. I felt like I couldn’t keep my baby safe. I was afraid to get into the car, out of fear of killing him in a car accident. I was having increased panic attacks. I didn’t want to go in public. I was picturing my baby dying in such horrible ways due to me.

And then there was the rage. I found out pretty early that sleep was my breaking point. We all have ours. And unfortunately, I had a baby that is probably one of (if not the) worst sleepers you’ve ever heard of. It made me a whole ‘nother person. I had uncontrollable anger. It was this monster that was living inside me that would burst out at the most unsuspecting times, and it was beyond frightening.

So, I continued to suffer. Because I had asked my OB back in Charlotte if this was normal. And they said it was. They accredited it to the hormones and baby blues. But no one could tell me when that stopped being normal, so I accepted that this was just another part of motherhood and tried to survive for 9 months.

I’m telling you all this now because in those 9 months, I spent a heck of a lot of time googling and trying to figure out if postpartum rage was normal, along with postpartum anxiety and intrusive thoughts. And you know what I found? Almost nothing. Yet, so many women were silently struggling with it every day. And none of us had any resources to turn to. I am so grateful that we have brought emphasis on mental health and especially postpartum depression in recent years. But there isn’t enough light cast on postpartum anxiety, and especially postpartum rage (the symptom no one ever talks about!)

The sooner we put this out in the open, the sooner we can get help for the thousands of women struggling with it.

Much love.

14 thoughts on “No Beauty, Just Beast

  1. Gut wrenching post. Praying that more women will be helped as we turn a spotlight on PP rage and anxiety. ❤️

  2. I’m so proud of you I am so very sorry you suffered without a doctor caring. I’m glad you are doing better. I love you ❤️

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! I loved all of your words and can feel your frustration, and I appreciate truth and authenticity of this post. As one who has struggled with clinical depression and anxiety, I can say after having a baby it can either get way better or way worse. My first was dream come true. Even though her birth being a life or death experience and having stress of having her in the NICU, I had felt normal for the first time in YEARS. I was able to be off of my meds, felt like the simple things were doable again and not every little thing could send me swimming through an anxiety attack. The second one, not so much. During my pregnancy, I relapsed and had to be on medication again, and I didn’t want to tell hardly anyone about my pregnancy because of emotion pain of being ignored and the inability to speak up and speak out. Because my first was in the NICU, the nurses and my family present would often send me back to the Ronald McDonald House to rest from my c-section. So by the time we were able to take my baby home, I was well rested and able to cope with nighttime feedings and all-nighters. But my second was much harder. I had a 25-30 lb three year old to carry around and that conveniently decided naps were no longer a thing. At five months pregnant, I had to pack up the house and move (hence the need for meds) in less than two weeks. When my baby decided to come, it was in the middle of the night and three days before my scheduled c-section. And since it wasn’t an emergency this time, I had to be awake for the whole thing ( needles aren’t my thing anymore and I sobbed ALOT throughout all the times they stuck me and the epidural). Needless to say, I was exhausted with a baby that only fed once in a six hour period, a night nurse unwilling to help me sleep and had lost a lot of blood. This baby was sooo different from my first. He wouldn’t eat until I had gotten all of his gas out. He wouldn’t stay asleep unless he was with me. But I loved every minute of it. It wasn’t til later, after a few months of hardly sleeping. That things got real. I can honestly say he still made my heart sing and his snuggles just warmed my heart and brought so much joy. But at night, I had to almost constantly rock his bassinet so he would stay asleep. There would be hours that I was just rocking while half awake just hoping soon I could stop and knock out. During one of these nights, I woke up and saw my dear sweet first born child lying on the floor, eyes wide, face pale and covered in what might of been blood. Luckily, it turned out to only be a pile of laundry, but I now understood how scary hallucinations can be. So I told my husband and I tried resting more. Baby boy started to sleep better at night, and threw the grace of God, it didn’t happen again. So I understand how scary it can be and how hopeless it can feel. Thank you so much for sharing you journey and experiences and we love and care for you very much.🙂

    1. Brook, oh my goodness. Thank you so much for your bravery in speaking up! My heart breaks for you. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to have a baby that wasn’t eating until all the gas was released. My only saving grace is that B was a good eater for the first 8-9 months. So to have that on top of everything else with a toddler seems unbearable but you are a mama warrior! B stopped sleeping in his bassinet and pack n play, and then he would only sleep on me so I would try to sleep sitting up. It was awful. Of course I was anxious the entire time that something would happen to him so I would basically dose off and wake up every time he flinched out of fear he was being hurt. It’s crazy how important sleep is, and how much we don’t realize it until we are in the thick of it and sleep deprived beyond function. I am so thankful you have been able to make it to the other side and you are doing better! We love you very much!

  4. I’m my gosh Becca. When I saw your post my heart sank and I completely knew what you were going through. It’s something that many moms don’t talk about and that needs to change. You are so right…when it’s your first child many people just say that is “normal” to have those type thought and fear. In a way it is but when it starts to control your thought and then eventually your behavior then we have a issue. With Grey it started they day we came home from the hospital and everyday that went by it got worse and worse. I would sob in the shower and pray that time would just pass quickly so that he would be older and then maybe I would stop worrying about everything. My biggest fear was what if he stopped breathing while I was driving and no one was there to watch his chest go up and down or at night while I was sleeping. Needless to say I stayed awake every night and watched him breath. For along time I just had the voices of all the people around me saying that nothing is wrong and asking why I wasn’t every happy. NOBODY understood and it made me feel so very ALONE. Finally in the middle of the night when Grey was 6 months old I reached my breaking point and I knew I HAD to reach out for help. Slowly thing got better and I learned to cope with my fears and my anxiety. I was able to come off meds once Grey was a little over 18 months. I just want you to know that I am so proud of you for shedding light on PP depression and especially PP anxiety. We shouldn’t feel shameful for having gone through this and I want every mom to know that you aren’t alone. When I was pregnant with Palmer I worried my entire pregnancy that I would have to go through the same difficult time. I feel like I didn’t get to enjoy the newborn stage with Grey and I really wanted to experience that with Palmer. After a very difficult delivery with her I will say that I had some anxiety for the first couple of days but that was due to by health issues right after delivery. After I was able to get home from the hospital for the second time in one week. I was able to relax and enjoy that sweet little face and had zero PPD or PPA. Again thank your for sharing your story. I’m always here if you every want to bounce thoughts or ideas. I’ll be praying for you and your family. 💙

    1. Melissa, thank you so much for sharing your experience! I am so happy you had a better experience with Palmer and you’re able to be stable without medication. I, too, really struggled to enjoy the newborn stage. It seemed like everyone was telling me to “enjoy it now, because it goes by quick” or “one day, you’ll miss this”. Looking back, everything is a blur between the mental illness I was struggling with and the sleepless nights where I was basically in survival mode, and I don’t miss it. I too hope to enjoy the newborn stage with a future baby. With B, I was very excited for him to grow up because he was such a hard baby, and I was struggling so much that I was absolutely miserable and that makes me sad.

  5. I’m glad you are talking about these issues. I had PPA with my first child but there was no name for it in 2005. The intrusive thoughts were so bad that I sought help as well but was told I probably had PPD. I can’t remember what drug I was prescribed but my reaction to it was worse than the PPA. I survived the night & threw away the pills the next morning. I never sought help again. I made myself visualize something peaceful every time the intrusive thoughts entered my mind & they were constant. It took a year. I never talked to anyone about it. I hope talking about these issues will help new mothers not feel alone or fear judgement. Thank you for sharing your story!

    1. Wow! You are amazing for first, being able to survive a year of that, and two, being able to have the mental discipline to teach yourself how to get out of those dark moments! That is incredible. I’m so sorry you had such a negative experience with medication. They can be so difficult to find what works for you. Even now, Zoloft takes the edge off for me, but in the future, I would like to try a different medication that works better with my issues. Zoloft is one of the only ones approved for pregnancy and breastfeeding, though, so it looks like I’ll be on it for awhile. Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m glad you’re doing better now.

  6. Wow! Reading these comments, all I can think is- what a bunch of brave and amazing women! I also struggled with ppd- but in 1985 it wasn’t a thing, The doc said “go stay with your mom, so you can get some sleep, you’ll be fine” really??? After almost purposely drowning my newborn, I realized I needed help. I never told anyone and no drugs were available, so it was a mental game. Thank goodness I was able to get through it. But the depression lasted for years– and for any one reading that wishes to try something besides drugs– here’s what helped me and literally changed my life for the better. I found a natural substance called 5-HTP and I couple it with Holy Basil, an herb. I find the 5-HTP at Costco, and the Holy Basil at the Natural Grocers. Interestingly, several other people I am related to also have used these two things and have found the same great results as I have. I am so glad that you wrote about this Bex, and I learned a lot! like how the OCD tendencies I have always had may have pre-disposed me to PPD. This helps a lot, since my daughter who’s so much like me, and has some OCD tendencies is hoping to get pregnant soon. Your courage in speaking out is commendable and appreciated. Love ya!

    1. Oh my goodness, my heart broke reading your story. Thank you so much for sharing. It makes me so incredibly sad that your doctor just pushed aside your mental health! Sleep deprivation is real, but so is PPD, and many other mental health issues, and I wish he would’ve listened to you and did more! And thank you for sharing a natural remedy! I haven’t tried this myself but I would love to give it a go, and I hope others will see your comment and follow suit. Much love to you! I am so glad you’re doing better now and you were able to get through such a rough time.

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