What do anxiety, stress and anger management have in common? Well, if you’ve been trying to cope with anxiety or panic attacks for any length of time like me, a lot actually.
It’s not easy to admit, but living in the world and trying to function and feel and act normal when my anxiety was at full tilt has taken its toll on me over the years. The stress of living this way had turned me into a very angry and bitter person. I definitely had anger management issues as an adolescent and then into my adult years.
When you’re anxious all the time, it can definitely lead to anger and frustration. Anger at the world, anger at strangers, heck, even anger at those closest to you. I’m not proud of this, but I have not always been the nicest person to my parents and family when I was younger. And as a married woman, I have taken a lot of anger out on my spouse…
As a teenager suffering with panic attacks, I didn’t know what was going on with my mind. I felt I was headed for the loony bin and every day was a struggle. It was too much for any young person to deal with, really.
On days that I felt more “normal” for lack of a better word, I often was left feeling very frustrated and irritable. And I took a lot of this anger out on my poor parents and brother and sister. There were lots of slammed doors, hurled insults and yelling in my house- me doing most of the noise-making…
I also felt a lot intense emotions with friends and had a pattern of getting really angry at them and cutting them out of my life. Social anxiety made friendships very hard in general. Boyfriends? Forget it- I was actually very verbally abusive to them.
That was a long long time ago and I have lost a lot of friends as an indirect result of my anxiety. I have thankfully replaced my anger at my family with love and compassion. I know they did the best for me that they could. If they could have helped me with my anxiety issues, I know they would have.
Being angry all the time feels like crap and I realized a few years ago that it was turning me into someone I did not want to be.
I saw a picture someone snapped of me one Christmas day some years ago and I had such a scowl on my face. In this particular photo I had just been given a really nice coat from my husband.
That picture spoke volumes to me. I ripped it up immediately. It was scary to see myself looking so bitter.
I did not want to be this angry person and angry wife. My husband deserved better. Heck, I deserved better. I didn’t really see the connection back then between anxiety, stress, and anger management, but I do now.
Living with an anxious wife also tried my husband’s patience at times. As I grew angry, so did he. I would snap at him and he would snap back…
As noted anxiety self help author Dr. Claire Weekes says:
“Nervous illness is a very lonely business. Also the family may begin to lose patience more than ever….If only they could understand. The husband (or wife) who has spent years being patient may suddenly find himself so allergic to your illness that he can hardly bear to hear it mentioned…” p. 113, Peace From Nervous Suffering
Since I have been earnestly working on applying anxiety self help strategies to overcome my anxiety and panic attacks, I obviously feel a lot better and a lot less anxious. Being able to be out and about in the world while learning to be my own safe person has really opened up my world and given me a quality of life I used to only dream about.
But it isn’t all hearts and flowers. I still had a nasty anger management issue that needed to be addressed. I was making peace with the world bit by bit but still snapping at my husband and generally being a witch (with a b). Not all the time. But too much. It just wasn’t in sync with my new happy life.
I am learning to extend the same compassion and love for my husband as I did with my family of origin. After all, he is my biggest supporter and he also would have helped me with my anxiety if he could.
He also loves me, we made a few kids, and share a pretty nice life together- wouldn’t it be in my best interest to do my very, very best not to have anger management issues with him?
I am making progress with my anger. While I am learning how to stop panic attacks I am also learning how to stop my anger attacks. A lot of it has to do with learning not to try to always be right, or having the last word. In short I have to learn to zip my lip a lot. 😉
If you have been suffering with anxiety for awhile and think the stress of this has given you anger management issues with those closest to you, I feel your pain. I think it is painful to acknowledge, but an important part of the healing process. As they say- you can’t heal what you refuse to confront.
I wish you peace,
ps. -Effective anger management is one of the most important emotional skills you can have. Learn how to control your anger with this Anger Management Self Hypnosis Download.