I just love this brave guest post from Jenny. We met online at #ppdchat (where she is a regular), and I got to hear her wonderful voice (the girl can sing!) through my PPD SpeakEasy calls, and we became close. I was overjoyed when she agreed to serve as a Den Mother at my Mama’s Comfort Camp facebook group (join us?), and what can I say, I’m just floored by this brave and honest account of her struggles with anxiety and rage. Jenny took my (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon course this spring, and it was a joy and an honor to have her in the group. Jenny lives in a small town in Wisconsin on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan. She and her husband juggle (sometimes not so successfully) working outside the home, parenthood and housework. Jenny is a mom to two beautiful girls who is trying to tame her inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom. She is @jenrenpody on twitter, and she blogs at http://tranquilamama.wordpress.com/
Passing the mic to Jenny:
My anxiety if unchecked presents itself in rage. I can go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde when the rage takes over me. I explode and unleash on whoever is closest to me, usually my girls or my husband. I have never hit my girls in anger, but I shoved my husband in front of my oldest daughter. That was my lowest point of my struggle with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. I realized how out of control my rage was. I felt sick to my stomach realizing that
my actions spoke louder than my words to my preschooler. How could I expect her not to hit if I did it? I was wracked with guilt and worry that I was damaging my child. I have not hit anyone since that time. Now when I am in my rage, I throw things or slam doors. Again this is not an effective way to handle my rage. Especially as a homeowner, I need to take care of my home, not destroy it.
I have been working towards managing my anxiety and my rage. I am now sensing my physical symptoms that manifest prior to my explosion. My face becomes uncomfortably hot. I start to feel very itchy, like I want to crawl out of my skin. I have the sensation of wanting to literally run away from wherever I am. I feel like a pot that is ready to boil over. I start to have trouble concentrating.
I can feel my heart pounding in my ears. My breathing becomes very shallow. I feel like there is a flashing neon sign that is telling my brain that there is danger ahead. As Yael says, “Your feelings are valid, but the scary stories they tell are not the truth.”
Sometimes I can stop this explosion. I take a timeout if I am at home. Sometimes I need to get outside and go for a walk. If it is just anxiety, I can walk with someone. If the anxiety is manifesting as rage, I need to walk or run by myself. I also use music to help defuse my anxiety. Singing in full voice and taking those deep diaphragmatic breaths helps me physically. Another favorite way of infusing my being with calm is to listen to Yael’s audio cookies from her (Not) Secret (Not) Weapon e-course, where Yael talks about Permission-Based Healing. I have learned to utilize this when I am in the midst of frustration. I gave myself permission to feel my frustration by stomping and shaking my fists. My girls thought that it was funny. I loved using this technique because it relieved my frustration in a healthy way. It allowed me to express how I felt.
It has taken me a long time to manage my anxiety and my rage. It was a combination of factors that helped me: therapy, medication, exercise, blogging, online support with the #PPDchat group on Twitter and Facebook and the Mama’s Comfort Camp group on Facebook and offline support from my husband, my family and my friends. I realized how critical it was to my emotional health and well-being to take some time every day for self-care. Some days all I can find is five or ten minutes. I also focused on my nutrition and sleep needs. I realize that a happy mom means a happy family. If I am depleting all my energy and resources, I cannot continue to give and give. My energy level or lack thereof can directly contribute to my anxiety and rage. I have also learned to communicate my needs directly to my husband, my family and my friends. It is okay for me to take a timeout in the bathroom. I am not being a bad mom. I am taking the time I need for myself to regain my perspective on a situation. It has taken
me a lot of work to manage my rage and my anxiety, but I am taking it day by day, hour by hour. I am so proud of the progress and the hard work that I have put into managing this rage and anxiety. I have come so far. By now I am much better equipped to deal with my anxiety and my rage than I was a year ago.
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Comment magic: please tell Jenny what reading her story has brought up for you, and offer whatever encouragement you can. You are invited to share your own moments of anxiety and rage with us in this safe space.