I hadn’t intended to post again so soon, but I heard snatches of a programme on Today FM this morning (the podcast isn’t up yet but hopefully it will appear here – http://media.todayfm.com/podcasts/popup) that got me thinking. Three women were being interviewed about their experience of PND, and all spoke very openly and honestly. I didn’t catch the full interview, but from what I did hear there were some common themes that really resonated with me – anger, fear of admitting to it, and partners bearing the brunt of it. It really made me think, and all of this I can identify with, in particular the anger.
For me, anger played a huge part in my PND. It was for the most part completely irrational, and would blow up over nothing. It wasn’t the kind of anger you get when someone cuts you off in traffic, or the skybox doesn’t record the last 5 mins of the last episode of Homeland (although that is truely frustrating) It was all consuming, instant, explosive rage, terrifying, usually out of the blue and extremely hard to handle. For me, it tended to come up when I felt I had nowhere to turn, and was often fuelled by exhaustion, feeling out of control, and an inability to soothe a screaming small person. Inadequacy was also a factor here – why couldn’t I give my baby what he (and later she as PND happened after both) needed? Why couldn’t I stop the crying? (And my god there was a lot of crying – they both had chronic reflux).Why couldn’t I cope with the crying? In the early days, I’d call Hubby, but really what could he do? For starters he was usually at work and so not able to get involved in lengthy conversations with a completely irrational wife. He also struggled to understand the extent of my anger, and really was at a loss as to how to deal with it.
As time wore on, the anger started to turn inwards, and Bitchface really came to the fore in a big way. There was nothing I said to myself that was positive, self affirming, gentle, kind…….and I mean literally, nothing. As far as I was concerned, I could do nothing right. I made completely unrealistic comparisons with other people, and constantly came up wanting. I was a failure as a wife, as a mother, everything. When the anger came, I would internally roar at myself and what I saw as my multiple and profound failings. It just got worse and worse. After D, my first, I struggled for a long time on my own, and when he was about 5/6 months, it was actually anger that prompted me finally, to go to my GP. There had been plenty of tears as well, but the anger scared me, because I started to physically take it out on myself. The only way I could break the hold the rage had on me was to hit myself, hard and repeatedly. Usually it was on my head, but I would also hit my torso, my legs, anywhere I could reach. It wasn’t a planned action, usually I would have done it before I was even aware I was thinking of it. Thankfully it was always in private, and now that I think of it, usually the bathroom, and never around the kids or Hubby. As far as I’m aware, no one has ever witnessed this, and for that I’m extremely grateful. However lost I was, I still wanted, and managed, to protect my kids from it. When I knew the anger was reaching a point that I couldn’t handle any more, I took myself away from everyone.
This anger didn’t resolve over night. Medication didn’t make it go away. It took work, so much painful, slow work, and a lot of tears and frustration. It wasn’t really until I met Therapist that I managed to address it properly, and even then it took years. It lessened between babies and then came back with a vengeance after M. Thankfully now I have much more self control, and I haven’t experienced that kind of intense anger in a long time. The last few weeks I’ve certainly had reminders of it, and I guess for me it will always go hand in hand with depression. It’s another flag, another warning sign that things are slipping. But, I know that now. I’ve done the hard work, and if I can continue to be mindful of myself and how I’m doing, I’m optimistic that that particular aspect of me is well and truly consigned to the past.