Breaking Point: Part 2

This week, I’m sharing a a story over the course of three separate posts. This is the story of the darkest moment of my postpartum depression. I am praying these words help another momma in the midst of depression to find life. You are not alone. You have value. There is hope.

You can find part one here.

Part 2: Tackling Anger

At this point, I had been in counseling for 3-4 months. I went, because my normally joyful self seemed to be void of all joy. I was tense, irritable, and just plain annoying to be around. Something was off and I needed help figuring it all out.

I came in that morning knowing what I needed to talk about: anger. I had been struggling with anger and lashing out toward my children and my husband, so the experience of the previous day seemed like the perfect opportunity to analyze what was going on.

The appointment began with a retelling of the story, and then my counselor had me identify some things I did right:

  • I recognized I had needs.

  • I made my daughter do things she didn’t want to; knowing self-care would make me a better mommy.

  • At the highest point of escalation, I separated my screaming daughter so I could tend to the pressing needs of my other daughter.

It wasn’t enough to earn a gold star for parenting, but it was enough to help me realize that I was doing something right. I am a good mommy who loves her children.

Then we began discussing strategies, because yes, there were some things I did wrong.

We talked about the ongoing tension of the day that eventually resulted in an outburst of feelings that exploded onto my children. If I could recognize the triggers earlier, I could take action to calm my body before the explosion.

I’ve continued to process this concept over time, and have come up with a list of personal anger triggers:

  • whining

  • feeling crowded

  • blatant disobedience

  • lack of sleep

  • time restraints

  • interruptions

  • loud noises

  • arguments

  • feeling unheard

  • added stress

Being aware of these triggers allows me to take a proactive stance on my anger so that I can live in peace. In addition, I have a few tools that can help keep my body calm on a regular basis, and/or in the moment my anger is rising:

  • worship music

  • hugging the dog

  • deep breathing

  • writing out my feelings

  • prayer

  • regular exercise

  • waking up before my kids

  • focusing on gratitude

  • meditating on Scripture

  • alone time

  • conversation with a trusted individual

  • actively loving others

Just last week, I recognized that I had missed some of my regular workouts, and I could tell I was a little off emotionally. There are times I communicate to my children, “Hey, I missed my quiet time this morning, so I’m going to spend some time alone with Jesus while you girls play in your room.”

You know what’s also helpful? Reminding myself that there are certain strategies that are more likely to increase my frustrations than to create peace:

  • scrolling social media

  • keeping a negative attitude

  • isolating myself from others

  • becoming over confident and straying from the things that keep me healthy

  • drowning the noise instead of facing it head on

Anger, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. Righteous anger can be used to accomplish great things for the Kingdom. In ministry, my husband often asks people, “what makes you mad when it isn’t done well?” This question can help us identify where are passions lie, so we can focus on making things better.

However, I must be careful that I do not let my anger dictate my actions. I can use my emotions as a guide and learn more about myself and the calling God has on my life. I cannot, and will not, live a life consumed by anger.

I left counseling that day feeling much better about myself as a person, and I was confident I was ready to handle the next incident.

I wish I could say my issues were immediately corrected, but these things take a lot of time and a lot of hard work. I would realize just how much hard work the very next day.

Come back tomorrow for part 3, and the conclusion of the story.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.
— Psalm 4:4