It may surprise a good number of people who know me that I anger easily, because I don’t show it. Some time ago, when I was very young, I learned the wrong lesson about anger. I thought it wasn’t okay to display my anger. With no outlet, it turned inward and fueled my adolescent depression.
It find it hard to get angry at other people. I can generally put any individual out of my mind so they no longer bother me, but the anger remains and festers. Add onto the anger a heaping dollup of shame, and the depressive mix is ready to bake, rise, and consume me.
Anger is one of the oddest human emotions. It feels as if your burning from the inside, and every person reading has had at least one angry episode where you could barely string more than a few thoughts together. Strange that we would evolve an emotional mechanism that decreases rational responses. One would think anger would be the first emotion to go via natural selection, and yet it persists. Why?
I used to read Animorphs as a child. A series where teenagers earn the ability to morph into any animal that they touch. I would fantasize about being able to transform into a tiger or an eagle. Powerful, fast, with sharp claws. Then I’d think it probably was good that I did not have tusks or talons because I might use them to lethal effect while in a rage.
I think we get so angry as a counterpoint to how un-lethal we can be toward one another. It takes a good amount of effort to substantially injure another human. Compared to most animals we lack the means to lash out physically without hurting our own bodies. Absent seriously sharp claws or teeth, we are left with cutting words and a burning fire in our chest.
Depressives turn anger against themselves. We rage against the person we hate the most. It is strange being so angry at me when I’ve known myself the longest and I can never escape myself. As if I had a conjoined twin that was a total dick to me all the time. I’ve hurled insults against myself, and beat myself down with every hurtful invective that you can imagine. The Buddha is credited with stating:
“Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
The depressive drinks a double dose of poison with every episode. It’s draining physically as the body has to wage a double battle against anger and sadness. If I’ve learned anything in my times in treatment it is to allow anger to burn away in the moment, and not to hold onto it, lest it consumes me.