Over the short history of this blog I have repeatedly commented on the difficulty I have writing about depression. In order to keep things making any sense I said I would pick a single piece and focus on that. In the past week I spent a great deal of time talking about loss. I even experienced a small, but significant, loss last week that though I didn’t write about it specifically, highlighted in my own mind a lot of what I was trying to say. In this blog post I want to talk about the day to day consequences of feeling that you have lost so much. There is the obvious sadness that comes along with all this, but I am talking about anger.
A lot of people that experience depression and a sense of loss carry that “angry at the world” attitude, and having been down this path myself I can see how that could easily be. My anger has never really been focused in that direction. I learned lessons about fairness at an early age, the take away point basically being that there is no such thing. I could write an entire commentary on what I consider to be the lack of truth in the world’s most dangerous four letter words, fair and free, but that is probably not a topic for a surviving depression blog. The point here is that I developed an understanding of how the world works long ago, and my life has repeatedly reinforced this model. I accept this with resignation not anger. There are specific circumstances that have left me angered, but to generically focus my anger at the world has never been part of my depression.
The anger that I fight with comes mostly from the fatigue of making it through the days, months, and years of trying to live moment by moment, breath by breath. The fatigue of living a life filled with depression and anxiety. I am short tempered, but passive. I know that sentence makes little sense, but I feel a lot more anger than I show. I swallow much of it. Occasionally it will show itself in an argument, but I carry most of it in my guts. If I am alone I may release it in a shout or tirade of yelling and cursing, but even that is rare. I often have the urge to throw things. In the moment it feels like if I could grab something and heave it across the room all the pain inside me would be released through my hand and be sent traveling away attached to whatever object had the misfortune of being within reach. When I was a kid I have memories of going into my back yard and throwing rocks at a tree when I was upset about something. As adult throwing things is not an option. This is not a grown up way to deal with problems, and cleaning up whatever mess get made isn’t going to help my mood at all so I exercise restraint, and despite the urge have never thrown anything in anger as an adult.
Anger and short temperedness actually seem to be family traits. Most of the men in my family are short tempered, and can be flat out mean. My Dad was that way when I was a kid, and I swore I would never be like that. I have seen what it can cost a family unit and I refuse to put my wife and child through what I went through. I spent a lot of time trying to find alternative ways to argue, and learned to put on a calm passive front even when I was boiling inside. Before my wife and I were married she would get upset when we argued because I appeared not to care. The angrier she got the calmer I became. It made her feel as if whatever we were fighting about wasn’t important to me which would cause her to become even more upset. I hate fighting with my wife. My “what if” brain takes me too scary places having to do with the end of our marriage, which gives her all the power in every argument. Every fight is a failure in my mind, and we don’t fight very well. There are ways to fight in a marriage that are not as destructive as others, but I have never felt that we have been very good at that. The result is I avoid arguments at almost any cost. Those that I cannot avoid I seek to end as quickly as possible. A harmonious domestic life is more important to me that being right. Of course this has the obvious downfall of leaving one feeling like their opinions and feelings are insignificant in the relationship, leading to further sense of loss. The cycle of depression is cruel.
Like Sadness and loss are my nearly constant companions so too is anger a frequent visitor to my world. Some is an understandable result of my circumstances and some is undoubtedly genetic. The way I deal with it, or don’t deal with for that matter, is all learned behavior. It has become increasingly clear over the years, and even more so as I have tried to write this, that I don’t deal with it well. I need to find some way to vent this energy and these feelings in a constructive rather than destructive way. The challenge is I am not sure I can tell which is which. So I will pose the question to anybody who may be reading this. Can you relate to what I have written? How do you manage anger and arguments in your relationships? How do you manage any generalized anger you may have at your circumstances? For many carrying around too much anger can be dangerous, making dialogue on the subject important. My availability to moderate and respond to comments is somewhat limited, but I would love to hear what people have to say about this, and will try to get comments and responses up quickly.