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Learning to Be OK With Anger From My Personality Disorders

Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m set up for failure. As the owner of two personality disorders — obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) — as well as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), my emotional life is a discombobulation of defiance and dissentients.

It doesn’t take much Googling to find that a hallmark of BPD is emotional dysregulation. This means my emotions are “unstable.” And when I say unstable, I don’t mean being happy and then having a few tears in the parking lot of Target (though I have done that and parking lots are relatively good places to cry in). I mean, I go from nice to nuclear in matters of changed plans, misunderstandings and multiple insecurities.

Here’s where it gets fun: OCPD and ADHD also share similar issues with emotional regulation. My ADHD makes me easily irritated and impatient. My OCPD makes rigidity in my plans and routines and, even better, makes it hard to express my emotions. To summarize, all of my disorders involve difficulties in regulating emotions. 

Can you hear my amygdala and hippocampus laughing? Because I sure can. 

Without my consent, it seems like conflict is my drug of choice. I have little patience for myself because it disrupts my life. I feel like I’m living a life of constant internal warfare and goddammit, I don’t have time for it. I’m a high school teacher for Pete’s sakes and I’m certainly not letting all of this out in my classroom. I’m a grad student slated to receive my Master of Arts in May pending no massive meltdowns. What is sleep, anyhow?

If I think about the totality of my situation, diagnoses and all for too long, I get indignant about what I’ve been handed. My starting point has always been different and sometimes, there’s no other way to say that what happened to me wasn’t my fault and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Then, there’s the thought that your abusers, no matter what the circumstances, have it a little (or a lot) easier than you.

Even though my friends and coworkers would say I’m on the fun side of surly and perhaps “sassy” for good measure, it’s easier for everyone to forget that just because I’m presenting as fine doesn’t actually mean I’m fine. I won’t deny that I make snarky look like a super cool second job, but some days I feel like a cliché — like I’ve got the entire world on my shoulders and it sucks. And then I get pissed about that, too. 

Being pissed doesn’t make me rational. Since my emotions are dysregulated, I often don’t have a “slight” feeling. Some days, I feel like I’m one modicum away from waltzing into traffic. It gets tiring to feel so “crazy” all of the time. It’s also tiring to feel like you cannot escape this diagnosis and need for treatment. 

There are so many things that are good in my life. I don’t mean “good” like all of the flowery quotes; no, I mean “good” like being the adoptive cat-mom of three adopted furballs who still, at their “advanced” ages, put their differences aside and meet me at the door every day when I get home from work. I mean “good” like I have a best friend who will quote Romeo and Juliet back and forth with me while we embarrass her daughter who is watching the film for the first time.  The Baz Luhrmann version, always. (Pour one out for our favorite fallen, Mercutio and Tybalt). I mean “good” like a husband who will push me to take time for myself, who sincerely wants to help me even if it means emptying the dishwasher, and who will tolerate all of my stupid jokes and puns just because his vexation makes me giggle. I also get pissed because, as painful as it is to admit, I forget this. It doesn’t mean I love them any less.

If you’re as pissed as I am, for whatever reason, know it’s OK to be angry because life is hard. Life is harder when you’re mentally ill. Life is hardest when you’re mentally ill and don’t honor your emotions. 

So go ahead and be angry as much as you want. Just remember to look around you and see the good too — this is a lesson I will probably need the rest of my life to learn, and even then it’s probably going to get a little dicey. 

And as you may have guessed, the prior statement makes me angry. Mostly because I know I deserve better. And you should know that you deserve better, too.

Photo by DANNY G on Unsplash

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