Calming Down

[Love] is not easily angered. (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV)

Everyday, I receive a daily devotional from the church that a few of my family members attend. Today’s was based around the above scripture from the Bible, and it got me to reflecting on how I’ve been so angry all week long. I can’t tell you how many times I receive one of those devotionals, and it reflects what I’m going through at the time. But, this one hit me on a stronger level due to just how much anger I have had inside of me this week. And, it’s not just anger, but anger toward someone whom I love a great deal.

I’m sure from my last couple of posts, it has seemed as if I loathe this family member, but in fact it’s quite the opposite. I love him dearly, which is why what he does to me hurts so much. When he disrespects my feelings, and me, only to focus on his own, it makes me feel worthless. I feel as if I’m not worth anything more than someone to call at night while drunk. That is when the anger rages inside of me even more strongly.

I’m still upset, but trying so hard to not let it pull me as down as I know it’s trying to do. And, it doesn’t help that it’s pushed me into a depression. I can feel myself in a tug-o-war with my emotions right now. The gravity of depression is so much stronger than natural gravity itself. And, when it finally wins the battle, I don’t just fall down, but I stay down. It won’t let me get back up. So, trying to prevent that is exhausting. I’m spent right now, and I’m turning to caffeine for relief. Not to wake me up, but to make me feel happy. Caffeine is my drug for soothing my emotions. I’m not supposed to drink it often due to my meds that I take. One of them states that I shouldn’t really drink it at all, but if I do, then just very little. But, it makes me feel so good.

For my family member it’s alcohol, but for me it’s caffeine. I don’t handle caffeine well. In addition to making my heart race and making me jittery if I drink too much, it also can also push me into hypomania. However, that is why I drink it. It pushes me toward those good feelings that I so desperately want to feel right now. When I’m more balanced, then I’m at a greater risk of becoming hypomanic from drinking too much. And, if I’m already hypomanic, it’s not a pretty scene. But, when I’m on the depressed end of the spectrum, then it just makes me feel good. It numbs what I feel. I’m not sure why caffeine affects me in this way, but I’m so happy it does. I don’t want to drink alcohol, but this allows me to feel somewhat better.

So, although it’s not removing my anger, it is soothing it a bit. I’m hoping it will help me de-stress enough so that the ringing in my ears stops too. My allergies have triggered both congestion and a bit of tinnitus in my ears (mostly the right one), and the stress and anxiety I’ve been feeling have just made it worse. I’ve read that those factors will aggravate tinnitus when they’re experienced, so I really need to bring myself down in those regards, ‘cause the ringing and clicking have been annoying me since last night. It’s hard to focus with that. I’ve always been sensitive about my ears, so it’s driving me nuts.

I was able to see my therapist today and she helped me to calm down a little. It helped to be able to cry and express what I feel with her. But, a session never seems to be long enough. I ache to get to see her, only to be in and out of her office before I know it.

So, I came home and was in a “don’t talk to me” mood. Sometimes I come home feeling really great after a session. I always want to be left alone for a while as I process my feelings from the session, but I will sometimes feel really good so I become talkative more quickly. But, today that’s not the case. I just want to sit here by myself. I want to lie down, but wouldn’t be able to relax well anyway due to the tinnitus, so I’m just listening to music as that drowns out the sound a little. I know when I’m not feeling great, though, when I’ve had caffeine and I still feel like I want to knock out right after I finish it. I feel better, but not good enough. Still tired too. But, the anger I feel has subsided a bit, thanks to therapy and the love and support from people who care.

Then, when I read today’s devotional that was written by Rick Warren, I couldn’t help but think about how it relates to what I’m going through lately. As you can see from the scripture itself, it was about love and anger. It discussed how the ones we love are usually the ones that make us the angriest. That’s not really news, though. They are the ones whom we care about and whom we love so much. We also hope – and somewhat expect – that they will not do anything to hurt us. However, when they do indeed hurt us, that hurt turns into anger and we release it… whether back at them or others.

What I found to be quite comforting was how Warren stated that anger is ok, though. God expects us to get angry and that it is not a sin to do so. According to Warren, “God placed the capacity to get angry in the biological makeup.” So, if that’s the case – as Warren goes on to explain – then we cannot avoid getting angry, but rather learn to control it. As the devotional states, Jesus got angry in the temple when he saw that it was being used improperly. It was not being used in the way that God intended, and that made Jesus angry. That makes me feel good to know that Jesus, a sinless man with so much love, got angry too. I tend to forget that, even though it’s something that I learned as a kid.

I liked what Warren wrote, however then he stated something with which I did not completely agree. He said that anger can be controlled, and basically that there is “no reason” not to be able to do so. I agree that this is the case with ‘normal’ anger, but as someone who has an impulse control problem due to dysfunctional wiring in my brain, I know that there is sometimes a real reason for not being able to control it. After reflecting a bit more on what he said, though, I realized that he is partly right. Although, my reason for being unable to control my anger has lead to me burning my hands in the past, that doesn’t mean that I cannot still do something about it now. After all, I’m on medication specifically for it, so that right there is proof that I can try to control it. So, in the eyes of God, that is my responsibility… to try to control it so that I don’t do something inappropriate with my anger. Although, God does not see anger itself as a sin, He does find it sinful if we allow it to turn into “destructive behavior”.

So, each night when I take that pill at bedtime – or midnight, whichever comes first (usually the latter) – that is what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to control an aspect of my illness that I do not like, and which scares me greatly. I may not have control over that kind of anger (the frontal lobe produced), but I do have the ability to try and control it. It’s helping me, because I’m allowing it to help me. No matter how much medication I take, though, the anger is still there. It’s just merely being pushed back from releasing.

So, although I disagree with Warren and know that there very well can be a reason for someone not to be able to control his or her anger, I do agree with him that there is “no reason” for not at least trying to do so. Maybe that is what he meant in the first place, but I interpreted it in the way that I did. If anyone has an interpretation of what he said, then please sound off in the comments. I’m always willing to listen and learn.

The devotional ends with a final thought, that reflects three words… “Talk about it.”

According to what I read, the key to working through anger is that it is talked about. It is not kept hidden away. It is rather let out so that it can escape from our bodies and be set free to dissipate into the God-given air we breathe.

That’s so much easier said than done, though. But, I’ve figured, if I keep posting, as I’ve been encouraged, then maybe that would keep helping me.

Blogging is helping to at least release some of my anger. I just wish I could say to my family member’s face, what I say here. I’m trying to deal with this as best as I can, though. I’m also trying hard not to fall any deeper into this depression. I keep doing what I need to do, so I haven’t lost my ability to function. But, I want to just give in and sleep more than anything. It’s like part of me wants to keep functioning, while the rest does not. I’m not sure if constantly taking on projects (no matter how small) is going to help me completely, but it at least gives me a sense of purpose… something that I’ve been slowly losing these last couple of weeks. As my good friend L said, though, I need to keep up with my therapy and meds. She’s right, ‘cause I know if I let those go, then I’m essentially screwed. I guess the fact that I can accept that still, is a good sign?

At least now the anger is finally calming down, though. That is until the next drunken call. But, as has been my life since I was a kid, I will just wait until that time comes. Or, maybe, until I can finally pick up that phone and speak my mind. I think in the end, though, that it doesn’t matter. I think I will always be powerless to help him in his situation.



8 thoughts on “Calming Down

  1. My Dad used to have heaps of Rick Warren’s books, so when I read this I thought of him. It was a nice thought so thank you for prompting it. 🙂 I think I disagree with Rick Warren too. Trying to control anger is very different from being able to control it. I have to admit my Bible skills are a little rusty but didn’t Jesus lose his temper in the market place?

    I think anger will be something we will always have to work on to some extent, and while I spent a loy of years thinking anger was wrong, I’m learning to accept it. It’s hard though to cope with being angry with a family member and loving them at the same time. I feel much that way to someone in my family and it’s almost crazy-making (if I can use that phrase). I struggle to know how to be.

    Anyway I’m rambling but want you to know I appreciate this post. It makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks.

    • Thanks so much, Cate! And, I’m so glad that this could bring good thoughts to your mind of your Dad. Thank you for sharing that with me. That’s a very nice thing to hear. 🙂

      I’m sorry that you are struggling with a family member too. You’re so right that it’s so hard when it’s a family member. To me that makes the anger harder to handle, ’cause it makes me feel so many more feelings on top of it. It’s really hard when we have to deal with that.

      As for Jesus in the market place, actually you’re correct in a sense, as the temple had become a market place, rather than a place of worship as it was meant to be. That’s what lead Jesus to becoming angry that His Father’s home was being used in this way. It’s strange how hearing that He got angry provides so much comfort, but it does. It gives me this image of Him not shaking His head at me in disgust when I get angry, but instead understanding it. I like that image much more.

      Thank you again, Cate!

  2. Hi Summer -it’s great that posting about this anger is giving you an outlet and helping you to process it in a healthy way.

    Anger is something I struggle with the most with Bipolar. I was brought up in a religious household too and was taught anger was a bad thing. My parents hated us to be angry so we learnt to suppress it. That anger has never gone away though! It builds up in me, until I explode! The anger feels so powerful that I feel it is stronger than me and I am afraid of it.

    What I have recently been learning is that I don’t have to fear the anger, rather make friends with it! Many times it has been my abandoned inner child kicking and screaming that it can’t take another second of what’s going on in my life/how I’ve been living! I’ve been ignoring its needs for so long, it needs to get my attention somehow!

    I think situations come to us to help us release anger. So in the past I’ve been extremely angry with my boss (to the point I feel I’m going insane!) but after a day or two I start to realise this isn’t about her anymore- it’s about me. Why do I find the way she treats me to be so offensive and rage-provoking? Most of the time the answer was because I was treating myself like that, or I have unhealed anger from bullies at school, etc. Sometimes I think the anger can go very deep.

    The only way I’ve found to deal with it recently is to just allow it, and let baby Rachel have her screaming fit (metaphorically speaking) because right now that’s what she needs to heal! She’s a very ignored and frustrated little girl who needs my love and understanding! So forgiving myself for being angry is the way I go. It isn’t easy. I’m sure it’s one of my lifelong challenges! But I’m getting there.

    I really hope you can get something out of all that!

    Caffeine is my drug of choice too! And I get tinnitus. You’re right, it does get worse when you’re stressed or anxious. But it eases off again afterwards.

    Despite you going through a bit of a rubbish time, I’ve still been getting a lot from these posts Summer. I love how honest you are. You’re a great writer!

    • Thank you so much, Rachel! Those kind words mean a lot and I greatly appreciate them. 🙂

      What you say about your inner child is something I can completely relate to. I even wrote a post about it some time ago “Will You Be My Friend Again” where it’s my inner child talking to me. So, when I read your comment it was like, “Wow!!! She has that too!!!” I think our past pains keep hurting us too and as you say, “… the anger can go very deep.” And, it is indeed very frightening to know it’s inside of me. I don’t like having anger inside.

      So, you’re a caffeine person too… isn’t it such a great thing!? I know it’s not the healthiest, but it’s not as bad as other habits I feel, and it really helps to make things a little better (or in hypomanic episodes… way beyond better). Too bad it can’t take away everything. I’d much prefer to have a daily dose of caffeine than my daily doses of meds.

      Thanks again, Rachel. As I’ve said before, too bad we weren’t friends as kids. I think it would have been so positive. 🙂

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