6 Tools for Managing 'Bipolar Rage'
As long as I have conscious memories, I remember being a moody child. Still, something shifted when I turned 16, where I began to exhibit full-blown rage. That rage lasted up until a few years ago, in my late 40s. The realization came when I pushed my loved ones away, and I knew I had to make significant changes for them and myself. Here are some tools I used that will hopefully help you if you struggle with rage.
1. Attend therapy to explore the cause of rage.
Attending therapy for rage issues is a good start. Chances are, your rage has been existent for a while, and therefore, you want to get a handle on it sooner rather than later because the more you let it linger, the worse the rage can become. Admittedly, I didn’t want to explore my past and have to resurface childhood trauma in therapy, but it was either that or continue on my destructive path.
In addition, rage is often deep-rooted, and it’s essential to know its cause and unravel the layers. Of course, we also want to rule out anything neurological that can manifest rage.
2. Consider medication management.
Whether you are already taking prescription medication or not, it might be beneficial to give it a try. I’m not saying medication is a cure-all, and you must go on medication. However, even if you are doing all the right things and the rage is still taking control, something might be preventing you from achieving stability.
For myself, I had tried everything I could think of to suppress my rage — yoga, meditation, studying psychology, therapy, etc. However, after over a decade of fighting against it, I finally gave the medication a shot. It didn’t necessarily diminish the rage completely, as I still needed to do a lot of work, but it certainly lessened it.
Most importantly, if you are taking medication or willing to try it, tampering with your medicine is a disaster waiting to happen. Therefore, please take your medication as suggested, and if you have any adverse effects, don’t just stop taking your medication, but call your prescriber.
3. Attend anger management classes and support groups.
Attending an anger management class doesn’t make someone a “bad” person. If anything, it’s a positive coping skill. Learning about what makes us tick enhances our knowledge, thus giving us the power to change.
Finding a support group is another way to learn how to work on your rage. Having peers who can share your experiences can be very empowering. And the support group doesn’t have to be specific to anger management. I have attended various support groups for depression, bipolar disorder, and others, where we share our feelings and emotions — including sadness, loneliness, anger, rage, etc.
4. Become sober and substance-free.
It took me 37 years to realize I was an alcoholic, and it never did me, nor especially my family, any good. Living with a mental illness was one thing, but the drinking truly brought out the worst in me and manifested rage and violence.
When we experience mental health issues, the chemicals in our brain are not firing correctly. Therefore, adding a substance to the equation will adversely affect those chemicals. And if you are taking prescribed medications for your mental health issues, any substances will throw it off that balance.
5. Take a trip to a psychiatric hospital or rehab.
When I could finally see how my drinking affected my family, I contacted my therapist to admit myself to a psychiatric unit specializing in dual diagnosis for a mental health and addiction issue.
Not everyone who has a dependency issue needs to go straight into inpatient or rehab, but if it’s severe enough and disrupting your life and those around you, it is something you might want to consider.
6. Practice coping skills at home to keep the rage in check.
I want to be realistic and state that even after obtaining help, there still might be some residual rage. Let’s face it, many of us have been living with anger and rage for a very long time, and it’s not an overnight process to undo. However, with the proper resources, hopefully you will continue to utilize the skills you’ve learned to keep them in check.
One example is walking away. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. However, when we don’t walk away, we often face the repercussions afterward for the damage we might have caused. Therefore, I now walk away and do something self-soothing if I feel anger coming on before it escalates. Consequently, I will either get up and clean, listen to music, or go for a walk. However, we all have different soothing techniques, so find what works best for you.
In addition to walking away, I’ve made lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, taking my medication at the same time daily, and eating right and exercising. It’s incredible how taking better care of your health can improve one’s mood.
The greatest lesson I’ve taken away from working on my rage is how good it feels to have a sense of self-control, which has boosted my self-esteem. I’ve also learned I am responsible for changing my ways and producing more effective behavior. And most importantly, my family has come back into my life, and we are all reaping the benefits of the changed person I have become.
Getty image by Aleksei Morozov