I was looking back over some old posts the other day when I realized that I haven’t talked much recently about anger, even though it’s always been a big problem for me. I’ve been called “hot-tempered” for as long as I can remember, and for many years I did my best to live up to the label (although not purposely). I was often irritable and would fly into a rage over almost anything; needless to say, this did not endear me to anyone and I lost more than one friend—and job—to my anger issues.
In fact, this was one of the things that concerned Dr. Awesomesauce the most when I first started seeing him. I’d go in for appointments and he would always ask me if I’d a) killed anybody, and b) gotten myself kicked off any Internet forums since our last session. Of course the answer was always No, but I’ve come close to doing both at one time or another. I’ve been known to chase people with garden implements. I’ve thrown things. I’ve punched refrigerators. I’ve kicked holes in walls. And I’ve pitched screaming fits in some of the most public of places: in front of a restaurant…on the front lawn…at a party.
I don’t know where all the anger came from, although I think I was born pissed off and nothing happened in my first five decades of life to change that. It only began to make sense when I received my bipolar diagnosis and discovered that irritability and rage are part of BP for many people. It’s a major component of full-blown mania in my case; and even in hypomania I sometimes find myself feeling twitchy and agitated.
It happened with my recent hypomanic episode. I was enjoying feeling elevated, but I was also arguing about politics and other matters of consequence on Facebook, and little annoyances were driving me nuts: barking dogs, commercial ditties, the screeching of Clark’s cockatoo (the latter of which, admittedly, irritated me beyond all reason even on my “normal” days).
However, I must say that it was nothing compared with the way it used to be before I was medicated adequately. I’d love to be able to take all the credit for my newfound serenity because I’ve (supposedly) matured as I’ve aged, but the real kudos belong to Dr. A and the hospital psychiatrists who treated me when I was inpatient. They made good medication adjustments for me and now I am rarely, if ever, truly angry…and the fury that used to consume me at times is completely gone.
Fortunately I was able to keep that in mind while I was flirting with the idea of going off meds, and that’s how those thoughts got banished to wherever stupid ideas go. (Well, that and the fact my hypomanic episode ended right around the same time.) I know it’s far better to not have a simmering cauldron of red-hot lava at my core, threatening to boil over and ruin my life in some way.
That’s not to say I don’t miss the fire sometimes, and I wonder if I’ll ever feel passionate about anything again. Once in awhile I even find myself wishing for just a short burst of real mania so I can experience that intoxicating heat once more. But allowing it to happen would be a HUGE mistake, because it’s not only the passion but the unpredictable moods—and the anger—that would return. And I’ve fought too hard, for too long, to have to start all over again.