I know firsthand was life as an angry mom is like. I spent almost two years trying to control my temper and failing miserably. It took a confrontation with someone close to me for me to really take a good, hard look in the mirror and realize that the problem was bigger than me. My anger was out of control. I had turned into someone that I didn’t recognize and my family was suffering because of it.
Soon after that confrontation, my kids and I were in the doctor’s office because one of them was sick. After the check-up, as the doctor was getting ready to go I mentioned to him briefly that I’d been struggling with anger. I remember saying, “I’m not sad or depressed. Just really angry…all the time.” Having known us for quite a while (in fact he delivered my son), he gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant and wanted me to try it to see if it helped. I really wanted it to help. I wanted to be a good mom, a loving mom, and at the moment I felt an ogre.
Fast-forward a couple of years. I was no longer taking the anti-depressants and the anger was still an issue. One day, during an appointment with a med-student (I had gone in because my hands were swollen), she decided to check my thyroid levels because of some other symptoms that I described such as weight gain and exhaustion. It turned out that things that I assumed were part of a mom’s normal life (what mom isn’t over-tired? and many of us are still carrying around a little ‘baby fat’, right?) were actually a medical issue with my thyroid. I’m thrilled to tell you that after a year of treatment, I’m on my way to being “normal” again and the anger is no longer an issue.
For me, it was a medical condition. For other moms it can be postpartum issues, the after-effects of giving birth or a traumatic event in their lives that changes them from the fun-loving women they know themselves as to stressed-out, angry moms. If you relate to any of the above, read on for a few tips that can help you find help… and hope.
Get Help – The first step, of course, is to recognize that anger is something that you’re struggling with and that you may not be able to handle it on your own. This was a huge hurdle for me and looking back, I wish I had done it much sooner. Make an appointment to talk with someone you trust – a close friend, your pastor, a doctor, a counselor or someone else that can help you find the cause of your anger.
Make Sure They Hear You – I made the mistake of mentioning my anger to our family doctor at the end of an appointment for one of my kids. As a result, he didn’t have time to spend with me and because he trusted what I said – that anger was the only symptom I was aware of – he did went ahead and put me on Prozac instead of having me come back for a screening.
Don’t do what I did. Make an appointment for yourself. Go, sit down and explain what you’re feeling and experiencing. In my case it turned out to be something that Prozac couldn’t help with – my thyroid. At other times, the appointment I needed was with a counselor. Those are just as important, just as necessary, and just as helpful many times.
Take Care of Yourself -When you’re dealing with anger one of the best things that you can do is give yourself a break. Build some time into your schedule to take a long walk, a bath or something else that helps you unwind. If you need to vent, call a friend or even write it out on paper just to get some of the anger out of your system (be sure to throw the angry notes in the trash).
Be Honest With Yourself – Looking back I can see that I was caught up in the game of pretending that everything was fine instead of letting my friends in on the struggles I was having. I had to get to a place where I was forced to be honest – with myself, with God and with those around me. I can tell you firsthand that it was a huge relief – a burden lifted from my shoulders – when I was able to sit and tall honestly about what I was feeling.
Let People Help – Another mistake I made was thinking that I needed to be super-mom. That I needed to have it all together and be able to do it all. Over the last couple of years I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be good at everything and that it’s okay to let others help once in a while. And now I’m strong enough to be able to reach out and help others.
It took sickness for me to be able to let go of the standards I had been holding myself to. It took getting to the point that I could barely get out of bed for me to go and get help. I was angry and frustrated for so much longer than I needed to be because I wouldn’t let myself reach out for help. If you see yourself in any of the above, please, please email me or reach out to someone that you trust. Find hope today!
* Copyright Jill Hart 2021. A version of this article originally appeared on CWAHM in 2012.