Stigma Fighters: Jen G.

I consider myself a well-educated woman, but postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety blindsided me. I am a planner by nature. If I had known that I was at risk, I would have prepared myself, my husband, and my family. As a lover of words, I devoured everything that I could get my hands on regarding postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. I had no idea that I had three of the risk factors associated with postpartum mood disorders: previous history of an anxiety disorder, C-section births and gestational diabetes. I began my blog to smash the stigma of postpartum mood disorders. I wanted to help the other moms like me who were struggling. I found so much community, love and support within the Warrior Mom community that I wanted to pay that support forward.

Stigma still surrounds one of the symptoms of postpartum depression: rage. No one likes to talk about postpartum rage. It is so common in women suffering with postpartum mood disorders. I had no idea that the extreme hulk smash rage was a symptom of depression. I yelled and screamed like a banshee. After these outbursts I would break into tears, horrified at all the vitriol that had come out of my mouth. My oldest daughter and my husband bore the brunt of my wrath. To this day I well up when I think of how poorly I treated two of the most important people in my life. Anything and everything would cause me to fly into a rage – someone cutting me off in traffic, forgetting a pump part, spilled pumped breast milk, a sleepy toddler who didn’t want to get dressed, a husband who forgot to put out the coats in the morning for the girls, a slow moving car, traffic, questions from well-meaning family members. I isolated myself from everyone – my husband, my parents, my sister, my in-laws, my co-workers and my friends.

I felt like a horrible mom, a horrible wife, a horrible person. I did not want to reach out to anyone because they would see the ugliness that was inside of me. No one would want to know me. I hated myself. I hated the person I had become. I felt like I was sleepwalking through my life. I woke up on Mother’s Day of 2011 in a yoga class taught by a dear friend. I finally relaxed enough to notice that I had spent the past seven months living in a fog of anxiety and rage. That day I took the first steps towards getting help. I left a voice-mail message for my therapist, and I was in her office a few short days later. Therapy, medication, help from my family and friends and the Internet saved my life. I am proud to call myself a survivor. This experience has made me into the woma , wife and mother that I am today. The more I share my story, the more I hear from friends and family “me too”. Stigma feeds on silence, and I no longer will be silent.

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Jen is a quality/regulatory professional, wife and mom to two young girls. Jen met her husband while tap dancing into his heart during Anything Goes.  She blogs at Tranquila Mama where she blogs about postpartum mood disorders, health and fitness, and parenting.  You can also find Jen writing about postpartum mood disorders on Postpartum Progress