When My Bipolar Rage Makes Me Feel Like the Hulk
I got angry today.
Internally, you may go, “And? Everyone gets angry.” To that, I’d ask if you’d ever seen the Hulk. This anger is no ordinary feat. It’s bipolar rage. For many years, my emotional reaction to things was out of control. Where a “normal” person might chuckle, I’d laugh until I fell off the couch. Where a “normal” person might tear up at the movies, I would cry the entire drive home and be upset into the next day. These symptoms would eventually lead me to being diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
However, buried under medicine and therapy, my own monster still loomed. I wrote for a long time about mental health and stigma and I would encourage others to be open about their symptoms, but I was being a hypocrite. I was hiding a terrifying symptom: rage.
Bipolar disorder has long been identified by periods of mania and depression, but the rage that can accompany it is discussed much less often. Already swirling with shame regarding my lack of control of my own psychological state, the anger I was experiencing came to interfere with my stability and relationships.
Today I got angry and my rage was so consuming, I disassociated myself. There’s no graceful way to say this. In the moment, I was cruel. The anger was like a white noise filling my ears and clouding my vision and I could not process anything without it coming through a filter of white hot rage. My girlfriend was on the receiving end of this anger attack and the damage I did will take a long time to repair. Sadly, sometimes it isn’t until we lash out at a loved one that we are able to admit we have an issue.
If you struggle with this too, below are seven tips I’ve found to be helpful in dealing with bipolar anger:
- Check yourself: While easier said than done in the moment, try and take a minute to ask yourself if this is what you truly want. If you will regret the conversation or outburst later, don’t do it now. Trust me when I say you can’t un-ring that bell.
- Don’t press send: Take a five second break before you send that email or text. Your anger isn’t forever, but that message is.
- Take a break: Remove yourself from the situation. Giving yourself (and others) space could be the thing that prevents an escalation.
- Be honest: By now, you probably know your triggers and the signs leading up to an outburst. If you don’t, journaling is a great way to see the patterns so next time it might be prevented. Practice mindfulness.
- Self-care: While this may seem counterintuitive, taking time to care for yourself could possibly prevent the very thing you’re trying to avoid. Relax, listen to music, do whatever healthy activity will allow you to calm yourself down.
- Exercise: When we are angry, we are usually feeling aggressive. Direct it toward a healthy physical outlet like martial arts or even a light run.
- Seek medical help: Talk to your doctor about it. They can help to ensure you’re on the optimal medication(s) and that there’s no other issues that could be causing bipolar rage.
Bipolar anger seems like The Hulk is going to overtake us, but I hope after today I can bring back Bruce Banner.
Getty image by HbrH