My name is Laurie Lyng, and this is my story.
I would consider myself to be a fairly laid-back person and always have been. It wasn’t until after I gave birth to our second daughter, Lily, just a couple of months before our first daughter, Lyla, turned 2 that I started to notice the change in myself. I started to become short tempered and on edge. All of the hardships that come with having a newborn and a 2-year-old were really testing me. I was just learning how to juggle both of them pretty much by myself. My husband is an amazing father, a good provider, and always supportive but his job requires him to work 12 hour shifts, alternating between nights and days which means that I am the sole one taking care of the girls most of the time. Along with being a full time mom I also run my photography business from home, and it was around the holidays so it was a very busy time for me. Some days I was starting to lose my cool and I even found myself to the point of yelling, a lot.
One day in particular I had my mom over to help me with the girls and Lyla, my 2-year-old, was doing something so completely harmless and innocent but for some reason it was driving me crazy! She was pulling all of her books off of her book shelf which she seemed to find really funny, but it just made me so heated! There she was with a big smile on her face making a huge mess all over the floor (like most toddlers do) and it just pushed me over the edge. Rage, which is such an ugly word to me, but yes rage consumed me and I started screaming at my precious 2-year-old daughter over nothing really. You could just see the joy on her face from making this harmless mess turn into sadness and grief. And in that moment, my mom said something to me that I will never forget. She said, “Oh Laurie, don’t scream at her, you’re going to break her spirit”.
Break her spirit. Oh man, that one sank in deep. But she was 100% right. Was she doing anything seriously wrong? No. Was it annoying to me? Yes. But that was my problem, not hers. She was just being a child, that is her job, and patience and understanding is a part of my job as her parent. With a degree in Psychology, I know full well the effects that displays of anger can have on a child in their formative years and how it can be a very dangerous, slippery slope. Children all have big beautiful spirits and bright shining lights inside of them, who am I to break that spirit or dim that light? I know this can be how troubles begin for people. That knowledge weighed heavy on my heart and I knew I needed to change me. But how could this have even happened? I’ve never had anger issues in my entire life and that is so uncharacteristically like me.
When discussing postpartum depression (PPD), one symptom that is not commonly talked about is anger. I didn’t even put the two together until my mother’s words struck a chord and I started to seek advice to change myself. It makes sense though, after giving birth there is a huge fluctuation in hormones that can cause a wide variety of mood changes that are alarming or out of character. For me, it was anger. It wasn’t until I took to internet though to find out I wasn’t alone.
From this whole experience something positive came from it. I decided to start a project using my background in Psychology along with photography to create visual tools to help remind me that there are healthier ways to communicate without turning to anger. I decided to call it “The Shine of Mine Project”. The first visual aid I created was my daughter’s “Let it Shine” t-shirt. I use it as a reminder that she has a bright, shining light inside of her and just because she might be doing something that frustrates or annoys me, I can talk to her about it in a calm manner.
Along with providing aids for myself, another part of the project is also to teach my children about respect for others. From that, I created my daughter Lily’s “Share Your Shine” onesie. She is a representation of pure shine and when I look at her smile, she lights up my world. It’s important for my children to know that not everyone’s life is full of light and if they have the opportunity to share their happiness or stop anyone from trying to dim someone else’s shine, that they should.
I also made the “Good Vibe Tribe” shirt for myself as a reminder that I’m the one who sets the mood for our whole family, our tribe, so it’s up to me to keep the positive vibes flowing.
With my photographs, I started an Instagram account @theshineofmineproject to spread positive messages with imagery. Stay tuned for more to come but like anything and like myself, it’s a work in progress. I still have days where I feel like I am about to lose it and I’m sure there’s many more of those to come, but I try to reflect on the tools I have put together and the fact that I am not alone.
It is really great to be able to talk about these issues because sometimes they come in forms we are not familiar with. Even for me with an education in behavioral sciences, I didn’t link PPD with the behavior I was, and still am battling with because it is not nearly discussed enough. Postpartum anger is very real and more common than I even realized.
I hope my story will connect with others and hopefully by being open and having these discussions, we can all share a little shine!