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9 'Red Flags' You're Slipping Into 'Bipolar Rage'

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Mental illness can manifest in lots of unpleasant ways, making us feel embarrassed or ashamed of our actions. Just one of these unpleasant forms is unwarranted anger and, in the case of bipolar disorder, “bipolar rage.”

• What is Bipolar disorder?

We’re so quick to judge anger, yet it’s a human emotion like any other. While anger willfully or physically directed toward another person is wrong, we sometimes can’t control shifts into anger. Sometimes, we’re carried along for the ride until the anger is spent and we’re left to pick up the pieces. Luckily, with coping skills and a deeper understanding of ourselves, we can learn how to better manage anger when it arises.

If you’re a person who struggles with bipolar rage, you’re not alone. And, while you might be unable to control your rage once it rises, it can be helpful to know the warning signs. That’s why we asked our bipolar disorder community for the “red flags” they’re heading towards an episode of bipolar rage. We hope their answers help you recognize your own warning signs or, at the least, feel a little less alone.

Remember: There’s nothing inherently wrong with anger. You do not have to be ashamed of how your bipolar disorder manifests, even in the case of anger and rage. Your symptoms do not define you. You’ve got this.

Here’s what our community had to say.

1. Feeling irritated by “small” things.

“I will feel absolutely irritated at the smallest thing that upsets me. Whether it be my laundry not being done correctly or something being out of place, I literally will burst into a rage. Normally, I build up my irritations throughout my workday and then always burst into rage toward my fiancé at home. It’s a strain on everyone and I always feel so terrible after I come back down from my rage.” — Katelyn S.

“I know I’m going into a rage when I notice little things drive me mad, like other people breathing, and how clothes feel on my skin. I start to get annoyed by little things and I know a major rage is coming. Still haven’t found a way to deal with the rage, though.” — Steph S.

“When the wind pisses me off, it’s downhill from there.” — Cheyenne B.

2. When you “shut down” or stop listening to others. 

“I always shut down first. I can’t process things clearly and then go into a rage.” — Kayla H.

“I stop hearing what people are saying. It’s just noise that irritates me and makes me feel like a mosquito is buzzing around inside my head. Then the buzz gets louder until it’s constant and expands until its trying to force its way out of my skull. This can last for days and then bang! I blow, and I rage and I scream and cry and the buzz quietens down. For a little while, anyway.” — Sarah-Jayne S.

3. Feeling like you don’t want to be touched.

“Overreacting, a sense of hate and rage welling up in my chest, and a strong desire to not be touched. When my rage is up, no touchy.” — Lindsay F.

4. Temperature changes.

“I feel this heat well up in my head and neck.” — Kristi H.

“I start to feel really hot and my chest gets red and flushed. Then I feel this burning sensation from my chest up through my throat. I yell at whomever and I can’t seem to stop. I get the urge to hit and break things. Sometimes I just leave and drive until the burning goes away.” — Katie J.

5. Teeth clenching.

“I start to clench my teeth. When I do this, I know there will be no turning back unless I can get somewhere and calm myself down…” — Kat L.

6. Racing heart.

“I will get so mad that my heart will be racing as well as my thoughts… I feel like if I don’t say what’s on my mind at that exact moment, then I will burst. Obviously, it’s usually not nice things said.” — Robyn D.

“My red flag is feeling like I’m a boulder, and I just got pushed over the edge and I’m falling down a cliff and there’s no way to stop it until it reaches the end. I feel my blood boiling and my heart beating out of my chest… and that’s when I know I need to remove myself from the situation, try and calm down and distract myself. Sometimes, like with PMS, I don’t catch myself in time and I explode without wanting to, and I feel like a monster.” — Chantal L.

“My heart begins to race and I start sweating, then I burst out with so much anger, even toward the slightest little thing, like one dish in the sink or things not being clean or put away.” — Myra F.

7. Changes in facial expressions.

“My facial expressions completely change. It kind of sucks, to be honest, because everyone knows something is wrong just by looking at me. I’m like an open book, almost. And sometimes I really don’t want to talk about it because I’m not in the mood to be guilt-tripped, pitied or called an attention seeker.” — Brianna P.

8. Sensory overload.

“Everything seems loud and bright.” — Jess D.

“Sensory overload. Everything becomes too much. Lights are too bright, any noise is too loud, and so on to the point where I get annoyed, then irritated and finally angry.” — Katie S.

“Sensitivity to noise and tension in my shoulders.” — Alex D.

9. Sometimes, you don’t see it coming.

“Honestly, most times I never know. It just happens without me noticing. It hurts me because it’s not how I want to feel at that moment and at times I can’t control it, so I just let it be until it’s over.” — Lufuno K.

“There are no red flags! I go from calm to bipolar rage in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, I don’t come down as quickly as I go up.” — Lisa C.

What would you add? How do you cope? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Sergei Solo on Unsplash

Originally published: December 11, 2018
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