On the Topic of Anger

In my journey through mental illness – there has been this process of  learning how not to shut down emotionally speaking. The tendency for feeling numbness and deflecting with humor (that I don’t necessarily feel) most of the time has it’s place but it shouldn’t be my only go to.

Late this summer there was a breakthrough in which crying in front of other people happened. Regardless of the circumstances it was such a phenomenal step in the right direction for me. I actually felt better the next day than I had in years because of it.

However for the past week I have been wrestling with anger and frustration issues. Part of this stems from the fact that I don’t like to feel anger. I don’t even like to acknowledge it. I tend to try and bury things down and not address it as it happens simply because I have hard-wired myself to think of anger as a bad thing. Over the years I’ve conditioned myself to say, “This pisses me off,” without actually experiencing the emotion behind it. And then said emotion comes out later when I least expect it, in a manner which I feel I can’t control except through ranting until I’m ‘over it’.

This isn’t particularly fair for my friends or for anyone who has to interact with me. It isn’t something I want them to have to deal with.

Anger is something that is linked in my own head with fear. Largely because I was always so scared when my father was angry. Right or wrong, my brain associates his anger with things like yelling, being belted to the points that welts were left behind, other physical confrontations, and pain. I know that my father did not only express his anger this way and that we often would push each other’s buttons to that point to where situations were created.

And anger at the household often transferred into me being a bit of a bully in elementary school because I did not know how to deal with my own anger or frustrations, and only had that as an example as to what to do in return. I was a ball of fear and anger, attempting to seek attention through anymeans because between that and the being made fun of at school, I did not feel ‘safe’.

But knowing this logically doesn’t necessarily help. That’s why it’s called PTSD. I still go back there. I still find myself reliving those moments.

Because of this, I don’t care for it. I don’t care for anger or discomfort to the point that even once I state my boundaries, I have with regularity allowed people who are my friends to dance across them and not address how that makes me feel. It layers on so very thickly that it affects my whole rationale. And family who is a bit biased – assume it is from one thing. And then my friends? Hardly ever see it.

Anger tends to be one of the many ways in which Depression can manifest. PTSD aside, feeling sad or blue is not the only symptom of serious depression. But when you tie in the PTSD related issues it makes for this strange storm that you often have to figure out how to ‘ride out’ by developing better coping strategies. But the process with which one does that can be more time consuming than you realize.

It takes effort and practice – most assuredly. But it also takes time to allow the new coping behaviors to take root. And when waiting and patience isn’t your strong suit it makes things complicated. Not impossible. Just complicated.

I’m still working on ‘boundary’ setting and standing by them. Next step – dealing with how to react when those boundaries aren’t respected.

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