I got angry today.
Internally, you may go, “And? Everyone gets angry.” To that I’d ask if you’d ever seen The Hulk. This anger is no ordinary feat. It’s bipolar rage. For many years, my emotional reaction to things was out of control. Where a normal person might chuckle, I’d laugh until I fell off the couch. Where a normal person might tear up at the movies, I would cry the entire drive home and be upset into the next day. These symptoms would eventually lead me to being diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder.
However, buried under my medicine and therapy, there still loomed my own monster. I would write for a long time about mental health and stigma and encourage others to be open about their symptoms, but I was being a hypocrite. I was hiding a terrifying symptom: rage.
Bipolar disorder has long been identified by periods of mania and depression, but less often discussed is the rage that can accompany it. Already swirling with shame regarding my lack of control of my own psychological state, the anger I was experiencing came to interfere with my stability and relationships.
Today, I got angry and my rage was so consuming, I disassociated myself. There’s no graceful way to say this. In the moment, I was cruel. The anger was like a white noise, filling my ears and clouding my vision and I could not process anything without it coming through a filter of white hot rage.
My girlfriend was on the receiving end of this anger attack and the damage I did will take a long time to repair. Sadly, it isn’t until we lash out at a loved one that we are able to admit we have an issue.
Below are 7 tips to help you deal with your bipolar anger:
- Check yourself: While easier said than done in the moment, try and take a moment to ask yourself if this is what you truly want. If you will regret the conversation or outburst later, don’t do it now. Trust me when I say, you can’t un-ring that bell.
- Don’t press send: Take a five second break before you send that email or send that text. Your anger isn’t forever, but that text message is.
- Take a break: Remove yourself from the situation. Giving yourself (and others) space could be the thing that prevents the escalation.
- Be honest: By now, you know your triggers and the signs leading up to an outburst. If you don’t, journaling is a great way to see the patterns so that next time, it might be prevented. Practice mindfulness.
- Self-care: While this may seem counterintuitive, taking time out to care for yourself could possible prevent the very thing you’re trying to avoid. Relax, listen to music, do whatever healthy activity that will allow you to calm yourself.
- Exercise: When we are angry, we are usually feeling aggressive. Direct it towards a healthy physical outlet like martial arts or even a light run.
- Seek medical help: Talk to your doctor about it. They will ensure you’re on the optimal medication(s) and ensure there’s no other issues that could be causing bipolar rage.
Bipolar anger seems like The Hulk is going to overtake us, but I hope after today I can bring back Bruce Banner.