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I Didn’t Want to Accept My Therapist’s Link Between My Anger and Depression

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I was drinking hot chocolate in my living room as I came down from a breakdown. A boy was sitting on my couch — he had been unfortunate enough to witness it all. I hoped he didn’t see the scratches that had materialized on my hands as I wrapped them around my mug and sipped slowly, considering the right words to say, if there were any.

I walked him to my front door and watched him walk to his car. I didn’t want to relive what had just occurred, but I was desperate to analyze the situation — was there a pattern? Was there a way I could have prevented myself from spiraling out of control? I had felt powerless moments before I lost all power. I had felt trapped, almost claustrophobic, while sitting in a massive movie theatre. My breathing didn’t come easy. I was feeling scared.

So, how did panic transform into uncontrollable anger?

How did that discomfort turn into me screaming and breaking anything I could get my hands on?

One day, I found myself discussing these outbursts with my therapist. I told her I would have moments of insatiable rage that came sporadically and unexpectedly. They’ve happened for years and though they don’t happen often, it’s an absolute nightmare when they do.

“You have suppressed anger issues,” she told me matter-of-factly. “That’s what depression is.”

I didn’t believe her. At least, I didn’t want to. If I were to ask anyone I know to describe me, not one of them would associate the word “angry” with me. Sure, I’m depressed, but I’m still too optimistic for my own good; I’m still too cheery and too enthusiastic. I’m not angry. What is there to be angry at?

You’re tired all the time from suppressing it,” she added.

I still didn’t want to believe her, but that part made a lot of sense. I would joke about how tired was basically a personality trait for me; every time someone asked me how I was doing, “tired” would be the first word to slip off my tongue. It didn’t matter if I got five or 12 hours of sleep — I would still wake up exhausted and no matter what I did, I felt drained.

When I first spiraled down into depression, I was angry for seemingly no reason. I desired destruction and I isolated myself from my friends and family for both my safety and theirs. Flash-forward several years and I continue to struggle with isolating myself with the newfound awareness of my internal anger.

Dealing with anger is a terrifying thing. Angry isn’t getting annoyed when I’m asked a silly question at work. Angry isn’t getting pissed off when my brother takes too long in the bathroom. Angry isn’t rolling my eyes at unnecessary commentary. Angry is crying, screaming, hyperventilating. Angry is a flurry of expletives that rolls off my tongue with fire. Angry is being mean to whoever is beside me, to whoever is on the other end of my phone. Angry is tearing notes apart and breaking a pair of 3D glasses in half and being numb to the scratches I gain in the process. Angry is an uncontrollable whirlwind. Angry leaves me in awkward aftermath where I don’t even know how to begin saying, “I’m sorry.” Angry is ruthless and unforgiving.

I’m struggling to accept the fact I have too much suppressed anger buried within me. I’m struggling to apologize amidst the embarrassment I feel for being unable to control it. I’m struggling to deal with it. I’m struggling to forgive myself for all the times it escaped me over the years. I can forgive others when they break down, when their darkness slips out, so why can’t I forgive myself?

I don’t like to think about the things that truly make me angry, but I think my inability to forgive myself may be one of those things.

Getty Images photo via AntonioGuillem

Originally published: February 7, 2018
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