10 minute read.
This is a very relevant topic for me right now. It might be for you too. It kind of goes along with another post I wrote called To Be Great At Communication You Must Master One Important Thing.
Sometimes I get in moods that I call “I want to grab someone by the shirt and smack them.” But I never actually follow through and do it. I use this phrase because while I’ve never actually smacked someone in the face before, except when I was in fifth grade for dumb reasons, I imagine it feels great to release all that anger and frustration.
The fight I had in fifth grade was over before it began. We just thought it was cool to show everyone that we were having a schoolyard tiff, and neither one of us wanted to back down. But at the same time, we didn’t really want to hurt each other. I always assume that smacking someone who deserves it is a huge tension reliever, but I wouldn’t know and will probably never find out.
This mood I speak of is fleeting, lasting only a few moments or for part of a day, usually when I am driving to and from work. But more recently I’ve been experiencing this feeling for longer periods of time, like several days, and there are lots of things that could set me off. Sometimes, it’s just one little thing to start the ball rolling, such as an unkind word said to me first thing in the morning, or walking into a mess when I come into my house.
There may be several days or close to a week where I’m so angry and irritable for no particular reason–just a lot of little reasons. When I experience one of these angry episodes, I realize that anger for any amount of time longer than a few days is not probably not normal. So I Googled “I’m angry all the time” and I saw many articles that say anger and irritability are often related to anxiety or depression.
I didn’t know what to think about this. I knew I probably wasn’t turning into a psychopath. These feelings of anxiety and depression aren’t new to me. Anger and irritability were just becoming more frequent and severe.
For some reason, I just fall into one of these moods most often on the weekend, and then it will last all weekend.
Anxiety aka “Everyday is Doomsday”
When I am in the throws of severe anxiety, I am irritated by everyone and everything. Little sounds get to me. I get mad when things are left out and not put away, or when there is a puddle on the sink left by someone who was just in the bathroom, and they didn’t clean it up.
Other things that annoy me greatly are things like when a person sits too close to me when there is plenty of room to move over, or when a coworker is too loud and obnoxious and doesn’t realize that their noise is disturbing others who are working. It could be something like a soda can popping open, a chip bag ruffling, chewing noises, someone sneezing really loud, or someone pouring water with ice cubes really fast into a cup.
Speaking of sounds, someone who yawns over and over again for like 10 times in a row, or yawns really loud will get to me. When I am in a quiet room or space with someone, I can’t stand it when they make noises with their lips, or when they hover and stare at me while I’m working on my computer or making something in the kitchen. I also hate it when someone is near me fidgeting with or biting their nails, or cracking their knuckles.
Another thing I can’t stand is someone who is too agreeable when you are talking to them. They are always nodding their head furiously at every little thing you say, trying to indicate that they’ve been through the exact same thing or they know exactly what you are talking about. They might even answer everything you say with “Oh I know!” or the excruciating “I know, right?” ARRRGGHH!
But do you want to know what REALLY annoys me? Happy people. But not just happy. Really really happy. Happy, bubbly, perky outgoing people for no reason at all really make me want to strangle them. I want to tell them to just shut up and stop being so happy! Hey you. With the perpetual grin plastered on your face. Stop smiling. Just stop it! There is nothing to smile about!
Then I end up cursing a lot, but mostly under my breath. I yell, complain, and sulk. I know I am behaving like a huge jerk and yet I can’t help myself. Everything will just annoy the crap out of me and I won’t be able to stop it.
I notice the change in my behavior and so does my wife. She is very sensitive and thinks that I am taking my anger out on her. She will say things like “What is the matter with you?” or “You have no right to treat me like that!”
At one point last week, I finally calmed down and explained to her, “I know I am angry and annoyed, but I don’t know why!” When I feel stuff like that, it is so confusing, because I really shouldn’t feel like that.
But I can’t help it.
To me, saying those words out loud is a confession of how mentally weak I am. I am always afraid that no matter how many times I tell her that I feel angry, irritated, annoyed, and frustrated for unknown reasons, she won’t believe or understand me, or she’ll just think I am doing it on purpose and don’t care.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Of course I don’t do it on purpose!
But this last time it happened, she did understand. For once, she asked if she could help. Many years have gone by where she will almost always take it personally, and think I am the biggest jackass in the world.
Then she will lash back with all her might, unleashing a tirade back at me with name calling, crying, and threats. This is because she gets really hurt by my behavior and thinks I am blaming everything on her. She feels disrespected, threatened, unsafe, insecure, and unloved. And I don’t blame her for feeling like that.
But this time, it was different. She offered to listen to what I needed in the moment.
I’m not sure exactly what triggered that last episode, but I think a number of things were going on like work anxiety, the stress of traveling to take my daughter back to college in the winter, being seasonally gray and cloudy all the time, having less exercise and a poor diet over the holidays, and it was really cold outside (minus 20 degrees).
All of those things together brewed the perfect storm.
This last experience forced me to think about what exactly I was feeling and doing over the few days before it started. Anxiety can take many forms. And after it builds up and you explode on someone, you can get really depressed, and the guilt trip on yourself can be enormous!
That’s what it is like for me.
There is a very heavy feeling in my chest, and it hurts. It feels like a heart attack, even though to my knowledge, I don’t think I’ve ever had a heart attack. It’s like when you receive bad news and feel like your heart is sinking, and you get that horrible sense of impending doom. But it’s not momentary. It’s a constant, dull aching and feels like a huge lump right in the center of your chest, just above the bottom of the rib cage.
Then there’s the racing thoughts. My brain is always spinning when I am really anxious. Sometimes I fixate on one thought and turn it over in my head–over and over and over again. I might replay a conversation I’ve had with someone else which I felt didn’t go right, and examine it every which way.
Sometimes it’s multiple racing thoughts at random. I will drive myself crazy doing it because my brain is neither quiet nor calm. My brain is anxious–terribly anxious.
Depression aka “There is no future”
Then depression comes. It’s always after anxiety. I get tired–extremely tired. Listless. Careless. Lethargic. Indifferent. Detached.
I will not engage in conversation. I am perfectly quiet, and don’t feel like talking to anyone. The urge to do things that I normally do, even the simplest tasks, is gone. Never mind fun stuff. Suddenly, nothing is fun, even the things I normally consider at least remotely fun.
I feel numb. Dead inside. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel happy. I feel empty, blank, and hollow. Nothing matters at that point. Suicidal thoughts follow. Everything is overwhelming–crushing on my soul.
When I get depressed, I want to be left alone. But then I also feel lonely. It’s a conflicting feeling. I want to be alone and then when I am alone, I feel lonely. But I also don’t want to be around people. It’s a very weird thing to feel, and it doesn’t make sense. But since when does depression make sense?
Cursing comes with depression too. That’s the anger symptom coming through. It comes out in excessive use of “motherf’er”, “goddammit”, “son of a bitch”, “cocksucker,” and lots of “f bombs” just sprinkled throughout my sentences.
Then comes shame and guilt afterward! I don’t like that I feel this way and I don’t want anyone to know I feel this way, so I try to hide it and then it just makes everything worse.
I also assume that everyone who sees me being so difficult probably hates me. Then I hate myself for allowing myself to behave in such a way that would make other people hate me. It is not fun at all. But that’s how depression feels to me.
I never want to admit this to anyone, but I am a very sensitive person, and I am easily hurt by unkind words. You see, I was hurt frequently and severely during my life, so I try to avoid getting hurt by avoiding conflict, because I always think it will result in something unbearably painful again. I know it’s not healthy to avoid conflict, but that’s what I’ve done for many years, and I have to change that.
But I can’t be shielded from everything. I have to interact with people on a daily basis. I try to be as kind and helpful as possible. I could be going along fine for a long time, and then all it takes is one nasty comment, rude interaction, or unfair judgement placed on me for whatever reason, and it will completely shatter me. And I don’t know how long it will take to put myself back together again and climb out of the deep dark abyss of depression.
If you ever feel like this, and you feel like you’re crazy and that nobody will understand, you’re wrong. It’s simply not true. You’re not crazy, but you may be neurotic–just like the rest of us. Everyone is neurotic in their own way, and some are more neurotic than others.
There are a lot of people who feel this way, and a lot of people who will understand. There are also a lot of people who may not understand how you feel through personal experience, but they will be sympathetic and perhaps offer to listen.
An even better attribute is empathy. Try to truly feel what the other person is feeling.
Many scholarly journals, scientific papers, and studies say that depression and anxiety are intertwined. They are like bread and butter. Peanut butter and jelly. One triggers the other, and vice versa.
Just take a look at these articles to find out:
Summing it Up
Whatever you do, don’t tell a person who is suffering “You’re fine.” or “It’s no big deal.” It’s not fine. People that try to cheer you up think that’s all you need. It actually only makes you feel worse. And don’t tell a suffering person to smile. Holy crap, do NOT tell them to smile!
What you need is time. What I need is time. That’s what anyone needs who experiences depression and anxiety, especially in the form of anger, irritability, annoyance, or frustration. They need time. Respect their time.
Do you experience depression or anxiety? Is it like what I described or is it different for you? If it’s different, please tell me how it’s different. What kind of symptoms do you have?
If you liked this article, please comment and share with your family and friends on your favorite social media app. You never know who it might help. If you’d rather not share your thoughts publicly, then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep leaping forward, my friend!