Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Neverending River of Anger

I've been... very angry lately. Not at anything or anyone in particular, just mad at the world.

I know where some of it has come from. Some of it is from depression, which flips everything into its negative form and then dials that up to eleven.

Some of it is from the fact that there's someone in my life I need to actually forgive, and I didn't want to, because gosh dang it, I wanted that person to suffer for what they did, but since we're not in contact it obviously didn't hurt them and just made me angry and miserable. (I'm still working through that, but it is getting better. I don't hope they suffer physical or emotional pain anymore. I do still kind of hope all their food is slightly burnt forever, though. Or something. But we're getting there.) But that is still lingering.

He doubted her seriousness from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 Ben Pollard, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio
Some of it is because I keep letting myself get sucked into online conversations that I know are just going to make me sad and angry, and that's a stupid decision for me and I need to STOP IT and just not engage with people who don't have a track record of listening. But I'm just so desperate for actual conversation, I keep taking it wherever I can find it... even if I have a suspicion it'll leave me frustrated and hurt.

Some of it is because I'm going through this weird time in my life where I'm feeling simultaneously socially isolated and socially stifled, which makes no sense (and it certainly not the fault of anyone in my life) and I can't figure out how to respond to it because when I socialize I feel withdrawn and when I don't I feel lonely and so EVERYTHING IS JUST WEIRD ALL THE TIME. As a result, I'm having trouble finding an actual outlet for my feelings these days and so it just turns into anger.

So I'm making some changes to try and fix this... or at least temper it until I figure out actual stuff.

1. I'm making an effort to recognize the positive. It's super duper easy for me to focus on all the things that are wrong in my life, especially during DepressionTimez. (If you write it with a Z, it's not as scary!) A while back I created a Twitter account specifically for listing all the things throughout a day that make me happy. (@reasonstodance1, if anyone wants to follow.) I'm fairly inconsistent with it, but I want to be more consistent, because cataloging good things makes me more likely to see them pop up more often.

2. I'm probably not writing about anything serious for awhile. I know it's been some time since I wrote something serious about faith or depression or my thoughts on... stuff, but I have had several blogs like that on the back burner for quite awhile. Right now, though, I can't write about the ones I actually care about without raising a lot of negative emotion. Not that negative emotion is bad, but when I'm making an effort to keep it in check, it seems kind of silly to deliberately write something that will hype it up. So I'll be veering away from any heavy topics for quite some time.

3. I'm giving myself permission to unfollow/unsubscribe. I want to be friends with everybody on my Facebook list, but there are some people who... well, let's just say I'm not in the right frame of mind to read the things they want to post these days. They are absolutely entitled to their opinions and to stating them as strongly or as snarkily as they want, but it might be smarter for me to not read them until whatever is causing this intense anger calms down a little.

There are also a few bloggers I'm taking a break from. As a rule, I try to not follow people who are angry or cynical all the time because I know that that rubs off on me, even if I technically agree with what they're saying, but I really want to curate a list of bloggers who are kind and compassionate, who will fill my soul with nutritious chicken soup instead of poison (even if it's accidental poison).

Art Journaling by Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Rita Hutcheson Cobbs, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
4. I'm going to start writing lyrics again. I highly doubt these will ever be shared with anyone, they're just for me, but one of the most helpful journaling practices for me a few years ago was writing song lyrics after my time with God. This is particularly good for me in dealing with excess or unfocused negative emotion. Using metaphor and imagery, I can express the emotions as strongly as I want, but somehow the restriction of having to make it plausibly lyrical lets me tackle it in a more controlled fashion. It can't just become a mindless rant of rage or fear or despair. I feel the emotional freedom to say, really, whatever I need to say, but puzzling it into a song gives me a better lens to view it with. It's been awhile since I really did this on a regular basis, and I want to see if I can use it again to adjust my perspective.

So. In the meantime... If I bow out of a conversation or write 10 blogs in a row about musicals I like, that's what's going on. (Incidentally, if any of you have any blog topics you'd like me to tackle -- I'm open to anything that's not a heavy-hitter/controversial/something that has probably made someone tell me I'm a selfish heretic -- let me know. I've been having trouble pulling together thoughts lately.)

Also, feel free to share here what you do when you just feel angry at the world all the time. Are there songs or movies that are good for you? People who help lift that burden a bit? Bible verses you rely on? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I went through a similar period recently. I think the rest of the world called it "The first half of 2014". I unfollowed, unfriended, and unsubscribed from quite a lot of online people and their content. I felt selfish doing it, because a lot of what I withdrew from had to do with social activism - things that I do care about, but that I just could not handle in such high doses. So far, if anyone has noticed my absence, they haven't seen fit to complain so as near as I can tell, the world has kept spinning without me just fine.

    I don't generally have a lot of anger, so this isn't something where I have many insights into coping mechanisms. I know when I slip into a certain phase of depression I tend to lash out, but I don't really feel angry even at those times. My testiness then usually surprises me as much as anyone else.

    One thing I did take to doing in 2011 was to play Wii Sports boxing. That can be exhausting, but in a healthy way. In my entire video game playing career, nothing makes me prouder than the bout I won in early 2012 with a TKO before my opponent ever landed a single punch. I wish I had a recording of that fight, because it was amazing. (Come to think of it, 2012 was amazing. From start to finish, that was one of the best years of my entire life.)

    I haven't been in a good place myself lately. Sporcle quizzes are about the only pastime that seems to engage me. Maybe because I have to concentrate on the topic at hand, but only for a few minutes at a time. (You'll be relieved to know I recently disabled the link to my Twitter feed, so you won't have to see a flurry of those score announcements anymore.)

    As for blog post suggestions, Nikol Hasler started a sub-series on her blog in 2013 that I really liked: Things I Love. Just a sort of celebrate-the-little-things thing, you know? I've written a few: church marquee signs, pens, and Cookie Monster. I found that the less obvious/sillier the topic, the more enjoyable it was for me to write about the thing I loved. Writing about Batgirl wouldn't be nearly as rewarding a topic for me as would be, say, lightning bugs.

    And, of course, I want to wish you well as you navigate this wave of misery. Any time you're desperate enough for conversation, feel free to message me. I keep my FB chat turned off, but I respond as soon as I see any conversation initiated.

    1. "I don't generally have a lot of anger, so this isn't something where I have many insights into coping mechanisms." This is kind of exactly where I am. I really don't get angry very often. Even if I'm snippy, I know it's just snippiness or short-term crankiness... it's never been in a lingering way like this, so I'm wrestling through it for the first time here.

      I do want to write more posts about things I love. Partly to boost my mood, but partly also because I want to get better about writing about things I love. Sometimes it's very hard for me to articulate, and I want to get better at that because sometimes I just NEED to tell people exactly why I love something so maybe they can too.

    2. Just feeling indiscriminate anger is exhausting because you can't even suss out the root of that anger. It perpetuates itself, because you can't dissect it and reason your way through it. It can make you feel awful because invariably, the only explanation is that there's something defective about yourself. It's maddening and can be overwhelming.

      I've experienced that kind of anger a few times over the years. I can remember being angry and trying desperately to understand it, but I can't remember how I ever got out of it or even when I realized I had. It's like I had been walking and staring at the ground so long I was oblivious to the fact I'd actually exited the forest. Not very helpful, I know, but I suppose as cliches go, "put one foot in front of the other" isn't the most banal.

      In my current case, I'm furious with myself and I know exactly why. (Short version: God lobbed me a perfect hitter's pitch and I got so excitable that I swung right through it.) If it is "better the devil you know", then I suppose I'm ahead of you right now since I can at least explain my anger. I'd very much like to skip ahead to a time when I don't feel it, or at least when it isn't as intense.

  2. "I do still kind of hope all their food is slightly burnt forever, though." :-) Sounds like one of my threats when I'm angry but trying not to be mean. "You should fall in a bucket." "My venom goes into your soul and makes a face at it." At least it sounds like this part of your anger is feeling a little more subdued.

    I went through a time in high school where I got mad at God a lot. I think I was mostly able to identify it, but it still cropped up everywhere. (I had this overwhelming doubt that I was never going to change or become any better as a Christian, and I felt like all the promises that say God works in His people weren't going to happen as I wanted. Thinking about it made me angry, which made almost all of my prayer times angry.) I mostly just tried to avoid praying about it, or I prayed all my emotions out and then tried to do the David "turn it back to God at the end" thing.

    I'm not really sure if I have any coping mechanisms from that experience to add to yours. Or from any anger lately I've been going through. I like your ideas, especially the lyric writing one. I don't do that as much anymore, but that is definitely a good occasional way to express my emotions. It can help a lot.

    I also really enjoy the act of singing, so I try to give myself opportunities to sing aloud about stuff. Whether it's in the car, or going to a park with my MP3 player, or bothering everyone in the house with it. Sometimes singing and dancing to my favorite songs can be very releasing. Mostly the happy ones, but occasionally getting way into a sad or angry one helps, too.

    I'm sure none of that was helpful. I just wanted to comment, and say I'm sorry that you're feeling so angry, but that I get it. And if I, or anyone in the family, can think of any fun ideas for lighthearted blogs for you, I'll let you know! :-) Love you, and I think you're brilliant!

    1. "My venom goes into your soul and makes a face at it" is one of my favorite things you've ever said, btw.

      And, no, that was helpful! It's always encouraging to know that other people have gone through similar stuff. I do trust that eventually the anger will pass... I just want to do whatever I can to get it out of my system faster.

  3. Oh man, I really feel for you here. I've been going through a (possibly similar?) rough social thing where someone I considered a best friend decided to burn all of her bridges with everyone before moving out of state, leaving me and several other people deeply hurt. Much worse for me was that it left me without anyone I considered a good or close friend the entire past school year. When I tried to make more friends, I just ended up exhausted and didn't make much progress, and thus I've been through/am going through the same mix of being socially overwhelmed yet very lonely. This led to my first brush with depression (which I just started taking medicine for, so... yay? Maybe some improvement soon?) and took a big toll on my creativity, which only led to more depression when I felt like I couldn't create anything worthwhile.

    I've been using this summer and the break from school to try and recover and move on and let go of my anger at that friend. I think I still have more anger than I'd care to admit to myself, because somewhere in the back of my mind, I blame her for the way the whole first half of 2014 started at a low point and only spiraled downhill from there. I'm trying to start writing again, too, kind of like your writing song lyrics, though in the form of stories for me. It's a hobby I've always enjoyed, but I haven't been able to write anything since the whole friend-incident without being stressed to the point of a meltdown. Thankfully, I have one very supportive (if long-distance) friend who's helping me ease back into it.

    Anyways, I didn't mean to dump a whole bunch of personal angst here. I just think it's a bit comforting to know that there are other people out there going through very similar situations all the time, and somehow we all manage to survive, right?

    1. No, this is a good space to share personal angst. :-) One of my goals in writing about depression or anger or sadness is to let other people chime in and say, "I feel that too!" and then even if we're all angry and depressed, we can be angry as a group and not have to feel that we're angry and depressed alone. And sometimes that helps!

  4. One time I got so angry I punched a tree. Wait, no, that wasn't "one time." That was a bunch of times.

    P.S. Don't do that, it doesn't help.

    1. My incredibly weak physical body has definitely taught me the importance of not hitting stuff. Because it never hurts the thing I hit and it ALWAYS hurts me.