Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mrs. Hyde

The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
For those of you who've read my Project Mom post, you know that I have a Jekyll and Hyde personality. I've been that way my whole life. When I was younger, having naturally been drawn to psychology and its dissection of the human mind, I was convinced I had Multiple Personality Disorder. There was the regular me who was loving, kind, and helpful. The me who had a deep compassion for the plight of mankind. Then there was the me who wanted to do mean, nasty, vengeful things to people who hurt me. I'm not talking the normal things that might go through a young child's mind who was bullied at school. I had elaborate, tortuous ideas. They scared the hell out of me. So much so that I never told anyone about them and I had assured myself that allowing others to treat me badly was the right thing to do. Who knows what would have happened if I had defended myself.

I grew up afraid of anger. My anger. I would hold it in and avoid it and ignore it until one day the dam would burst and unbridled rage would spew forth like a river. And I couldn't control it. I would be somewhere deep inside myself, screaming at myself to stop. Stop! For the love of God, stop! Before someone gets hurt. But there was no stopping until all the rage was gone. It had to leave on its own because I didn't have the power to do it myself. 

A couple years after I gave birth to my first son, I gained what I perceived to be control over my anger. I would take deep breaths, count to ten...and then pretend I wasn't angry. It worked for about five years. When I commit to something, I go all the way. Then about nine months after my youngest child was born, it just stopped working. Just like that. Whatever could have happened? You mean to tell me that holding in your emotions and pretending they don't exist doesn't work

My OB/GYN thought I was suffering from postpartum depression. Maybe I was at the time. I did try to commit suicide by CO poisoning. There wasn't anything particularly stressful or painful happening in my life. One day after a blizzard I just thought, "I'll go run the car for awhile," knowing full well that the tailpipe was clogged with snow. I was sitting there in a minivan slowly filling with poisonous gas thinking how I didn't even say goodbye to my kids, when I looked out the rear view mirror and saw my husband trying his best to run in four feet of snow. He saved my life and I told him I forgot you were supposed to clear the snow away before letting the car run. 

I conveniently deleted that incident from my conversation with my doctor later on. When she realized that the fits of rage seemed to coincide with my monthly spike in hormones, she diagnosed me with PMDD, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I grabbed on to that excuse and held on for dear life. Now I have reason for being angry! I can be as big a bitch as I want and it's okay because I have PMDD! She tried giving me anti-depressants. They didn't work. She tried herbal supplements. Didn't even make a dent. Did I forget to tell her that this little problem started long before monthly hormone spikes were an issue?

I know you're looking for a nice, neat happy ending, but there is none. I still struggle with this issue. What's worse is that I see the same thing happening in my youngest son; he's afraid to express his anger.  I've tried telling him that it's okay to express your anger as long as its done in a healthy way. We've sat down and come up with healthy alternatives to holding in one's anger. But how can I expect him to do something that I have trouble doing myself? My excuse is that he's young. He's only got ten years of re-training to do. Ten years is a piece of cake! I can do ten years standing on my head.

I'm really not that delusional. I know he's mimicking my behavior. And it doesn't help that his dad can be a hothead at times. We're all works-in-progress. God isn't through with us yet. But there is no time like the present for change.

Here's one thing I'm trying. As it turns out, blogging has proven to be very therapeutic. So I've created an "angry" blog in addition to this (hopefully!) helpful one. It's called "A Bitch Called Mom." Clever, right? In this blog I can say any mean, nasty thing I want. I can be bitchy and whiny and ugly and unreasonable and I don't care who has something to say about it. It's uncensored and mean and probably offensive. AND, this is the important part, it helps. I find that every time I blog when I'm angry, it calms me down. That's something that anti-depressants, herbal tea, or red wine couldn't accomplish. Maybe because once I've gotten it off my chest and expressed it in a healthy way, I can then take a step back, see things for what they really are and react accordingly.

What a novel idea! Somebody should have thought of this sooner.

Until next week,

Feed on love; subsist on peace.


  1. I have known you since highschool and I have only known the sweet Shawna. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal intimate detail of yourself. Sounds like someone I know....hmmmmm

  2. Hmmm..Mrs. McCoy

    I think "I" found a happy ending to this post...God knows its the truth...

    "We're all works-in-progress. God isn't through with us yet."

  3. @ Anon- I wish I knew who you were, but thanks for the kind words anyway!

    @Margie- You're absolutely right! Thanks for that.


Let me hear your voice.