Ok, so first let me prefix this by saying that I’m not an angry person. I’m of Scottish heritage, and I’ve got red hair, so I’d be lying if I didn’t say my default reaction to a lot of situations – particularly in the city – is blind fury.
Some French tourist shoved me in Soho? Il va mourir. Some woman walks directly into me because she’s texting in a busy train station? Queue passive-aggressive excuuuusssee me!
The thing is, I burn hot, but I burn fast. I have terrible short-term memory, and oftentimes am left about half an hour later saying something along the lines of: ‘I have no idea why I’m mad, but I know you deserve it.‘ The vast majority of the time, despite my resting bitch-face, my factory setting is serene. I like things to be quiet, and I like to be left alone, and most of the time I pootle through life absent-mindedly thinking about Harry Potter.
Seriously, though. Are all wizards and witches homeschooled until they’re 11?
Harry Potter aside, anxiety and depression have changed that, for me. My fuse, never the longest to begin with, is now the sort of length you find on decidedly dodgy Value Brand fireworks. My emotional state has always been closely tied to the seasons, my depression seasonal and predictable, but this year it’s been far more intense than it’s ever been before, and the anxiety is completely new. Before, I would spend a day sad. Uncomplicatedly sad, sitting still and lonely, reading Sylvia Plath and writing uninspired poetry about grey skies.
For the past few months, it’s been different. Some days I can feel the panic attack creeping up, slow and awful, waiting for anything to set it off. Nothing will snap me out of it until it crests, and I spend fifteen minutes screaming, crying and feeling like I want to die. Since starting medication, it’s more likely to be quick and dirty – a single random word, a unintentionally cruel facial expression – will have me in helpless tears.
Learning more about my symptoms has been invaluable, and recently I’ve discovered that I’ve been having tiny, unnoticed panic attacks, which I thought were legitimate reactions, not chemically-induced mood-swings. And the most common one is anger.
The thing is, I don’t have an intrinsic hatred for French tourists. I don’t automatically dislike people who text and walk – I do it, sometimes, when I’m distracted. What I thought were reasonable reactions were just my mind’s attempt to channel a blind, animalistic panic at being caught in a public, loud place with myriad unidentified dangers. I’m terrified and uncomfortable, so I bark like a small dog, hopeful it will scare off the hoover.
It’s a steep learning curve for me, but I have been learning to deal with irrational anger.
Here are some top tips, straight from the shouting, red-faced woman’s mouth:
- Take a deep breath before you say something regrettable. Ok, so this one I’m still struggling with, but as my poor, desperate Welshman keeps trying to tell me: You never know what people are thinking, especially in the city. The chances that you shout at someone for being inconsiderate and they, rather than thanking you for alerting them to their civil disobedience, just deck you one are fairly high. Take a deep breath, hold it, and let it out. Sometimes, you’re only 5 deep breaths away from feeling fine. Unless you’re like Black Widow or something, in which case go forth and be a vigilante of public decorum. God speed.
- Go somewhere else. If you’ve had a panic attack before, you’ll know the desperate need to leave. It’s your animal brain saying, perfectly logically, that you shout get out of the place that’s full of scary things. The same is true if you’re irrationally angry. In public or at work I’d seriously recommend finding a bathroom with a lock. Turn your phone onto airplane mode and write an angry text. Then delete your text, return phone to normal mode, and leave the bathroom feeling like a new, carefree version of yourself.
- Get wet. Splash your face with some water, if water isn’t a trigger for you (seriously, not judging, there was an incident with a kayak a few years ago I’m still haunted by.) Have a cup of tea. Drink some cold water. Hydrate! Dehydration might be giving you a headache, which won’t be helping your mood. Also, leaving the desk to get a drink is a perfectly good reason to escape your infuriating colleague. Double win! Baths or showers are also awesome if you can drum up the motivation to get into them, and are helpful in covering any cursing or angry-crying you feel the need to do.
- Listen to really angry music. Or baby music. So my angry music of choice is a lady called Emilie Autumn (I’d recommend ‘Fight Like A Girl‘). Listen to something thrash-y, and think angry thoughts if you have to. Alternatively, if you’re on the verge of panicking in a public place (especially the office) baby-sleep music can be super helpful to drown out the noise and get your head into a different space. There are some great tracks on Spotify, or else look up meditation music on YouTube. Keep some on your phone for emergencies. Seriously, it can be the difference between crying in an exhibition of Soviet artwork and making it round the room without having a meltdown! (I know this is super specific, but just trust me.)
- Go look for a dog. This is particularly good if you have a park near your office. I might be alone in this, but I can’t be mad if I’m looking at a dog being happy. Or a dog running about. Basically, dogs are the cure for everything and we don’t deserve them. If you don’t have access to a dog, this video is a good alternative. Watch now, thank me later.
Finally, you need to let the people around you know what’s happening. To someone outside your head, your moodswings and anger are inexplicable and frightening, and they don’t deserve to be shouted at, no matter how sick you’re feeling. If you find yourself getting angry at work a lot, and you trust your manager, let them know you’re struggling with anxiety and it makes you snappy. Let your family know, if you feel safe doing so. Get your partner prepared for some rocky seas, and let them know when chocolate may be necessary. I’m sure you’ll have at least one friend who’s suffered with something similar – ask them for advice.
You’re valuable, and you’re loved, and they’ll stick with you through this. That said, it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself, and try not to hurt anyone when you’re in pain. Give it your best shot. Let me know how you’re getting on.
With love, always,
Remember to like, comment and share! I really love hearing from you all ❤
NB: Please note, I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. This blog is intended as a personal diary, and any advice given is friendly and light-hearted – please do not use it instead of seeking professional help. If you disagree with any advice I give, please let me know. Similarly, if you are offended for any reason, please share and I will take your thoughts into consideration. Finally, if you are having violent or self-harming thoughts please seek medical help as soon as possible.