So. Some of you who have read know that I was diagnosed with anxiety six months after my monster was born. Actually…I went to see my doctor about it before, but he wouldn’t treat it because he was pretty sure I was pregnant–I was! My anxiety causes bouts of depression as well, but my therapist does think part of that is Post Partum depression.
My son is 2.5 years old. I’ve been working through this for the past two years. I’ve been off my anti-depressants since September when I found out I was pregnant with Baby 2.
Lately, my anxiety isn’t so much the stomachache, panic attack, constant googling that I struggle with most often. Lately, my anxiety has presented as anger.
Lots and lots of fucking anger.
I’m not going to pretend some of the anger and frustration I’ve been feeling isn’t relevant or valid. It is. I have a hard as fuck job that sometimes makes me feel like my hands are tied. I also have a toddler and a husband whose job demands much of his time and even more attention.
But the way I’m feeling, the way I’m responding? Not normal, out of the scope of normal.
Last weekend I sat in my bedroom ignoring my husband because he slept in both days, and all I wanted was the chance to sleep in. Justified frustration? Sure. Over the top response? Yeah.
Or today, when my husband was working on some food because we have people coming over, and my toddler was supposed to be getting lotioned and dressed and chose to run away; my response? To say I hated both of them. (Please keep your judgey comments to yourself, trust me, I’m a hell of a lot harder on me than you could ever be.)
I’ve considered divorce and just up and leaving so many times in the past months. Everything sparks that angry, frustrated, want out response.
Mess in the living room? I’m out. Husband’s late coming home from work? Peace out, dude. Toddler won’t listen? Fuck you both, I can’t do it.
In reality, the anger I’m feeling is in large part because I feel very unsupported lately. I love my family, but my parents were so worried when I got pregnant, and continue to worry about my mental health so I can’t turn there. My friends are amazing, but also have full plates and I feel like I’m burdening them with the–honestly, trivial–shit going on in my life. And my husband, he is a saint, but his fucking job makes him unapproachable often. He’s checked out frequently, takes work calls nearly constantly. And I just need him to be here for me. So yeah, I am angry at him for that.
When anxiety and depression manifest as anger it’s scary. It’s scary for your partner and family, it’s scary for you. It’s hard to explain what you’re feeling and why, and then the anger intensifies.
Does that make me a bad person? No. What it means is I still have a lot of work to do in terms of mental health and self-care.
What I do: Scream, shout, swear, cry, hide, shut down.
What I should do: Reach out. Write. Meditate. The grounding techniques my therapist gave me. Things I enjoy.
Does it feel selfish asking for me time to practice self-care? Yes. Abso-fucking-lutely. As moms in today’s fucked up world, we’re taught that our kids need to be first priority and if we put them aside momentarily for selfish reasons we’re “bad” moms and “shouldn’t have had kids in the first place.”
We’re told our needs should come after bedtime: to drink wine to cope with parenthood. To vent to your friends. But always be at your child’s beck and call. Does that make you a good mom? No. What it teaches your kids is that other people’s needs are second to their own.
To be a good mom, you have to take care of yourself. It’s that simple. For some women, a glass of wine or a girls’ night is self-care. For others it’s a bubble bath. For me, it’s a mixture depending on. But it’s also counseling and medication, and an awareness of my feelings and needs.
And, to be honest with you, I fucking suck at it.
I have a tendency to put everyone and everything else before me, and then I reach this point and can’t handle it and lose my shit. Sometimes this means anger–lately this means anger–sometimes it means shutting down. It’s gotten so bad this year that I’ve disassociated: everything felt so unreal and dreamlike that I ended up having to leave school because I couldn’t get a handle on it.
It’s something I’m working on.
I don’t want to be the angry mom. Or the angry wife. Or the angry teacher. And lately that’s who I’ve become.
My life is hectic right now, and I can’t even pretend that I’m prioritizing because honestly, I’m just trying to survive. After April, when grad school’s done, I hope things calm down for a while.
But either way, I have to work on taking care of myself. If I don’t, all areas in my life, the people in my life are going to suffer for it. And, as a mom, that’s the last thing I want.
So. I guess what I really want to say, is if you’re angry all the time, over little things, you might have some other stuff going on. Find a counselor, talk to your doctor. But most importantly, realize you’re not alone.
Even if your not a mom, or a teacher, or a spouse, our world is a mess right now. The lack of empathy and care for others, the lack of acknowledgement of other people and their plights, it’s understandable if you’re feeling anxious, or angry, or sad.
And if you are a parent, spouse, teacher, remember the famous–and so fucking wise quote–“You can’t pour from an empty cup.” (I would cite it if I knew who said it, but I’m being lazy and have homework I should be doing so…)
Take care of yourself. Love yourself enough to acknowledge that you have needs that have to be taken care of.
Nothing gets better if you don’t acknowledge the problem to begin with.