Dealing With Anger

In many ways, anger is a normal reaction.

In this blog post, we’re going to present another challenge from one of the decks of challenges we have created for the game “Bounce Back.” The challenges in the series that we have created on health deal with chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These decks are part of a serious game called “Bounce Back” that we have developed to teach the skills and the attitudes of resilience. The game presents the players with situations that they or someone close to them might encounter and asks them to choose the skills and the attitudes of resilience they would use or would recommend others to use to deal with the challenge.

Here is the challenge: Some days you’re angry. Some days you’re depressed. Some days you feel like you just don’t want to live with the pain anymore. You don’t really think about suicide seriously because it would solve no problem. But after a particularly sleepless and pain-filled night, you crawl out of bed at 4:15 a.m. to make some coffee. Your wife comes down the stairs with her usual, “What’s wrong, honey?” You’re tired of this persistently stupid question and you jam the pot into the coffeemaker a bit too hard. You’re shocked when it shatters and your knuckles begin to bleed.

Anger is a very normal reaction to all of the frustration and difficulties that a chronic healthcare problem presents. What do you believe you would do in this situation?  Think about it and talk with friends and family. Perhaps they have dealt with a similar problem. Many chronic illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes, involve chronic pain.

Here are some of the things that we would suggest. Connecting with others and communicating is important. Your wife was trying to do this. Perhaps she needs some direction from you. Maybe you need to talk with her more about how you’re feeling.

Managing all of the feelings that you have, especially the anger, is hard. But you’ll find better ways of dealing with it if you let some of it out in constructive ways. Find some ways to discharge it. Talking about it is one of those. Doing something physical, such as punching a pillow or a punching bag, exercising, etc., may help.  Even though you’re angry, and you may be angry with yourself, take care of yourself and take care of those around you.

Try to see the bigger picture. Things will change, perhaps for the better. Things will not remain the same. Get some help professionally in dealing with the anger. Medication is not always the answer. It can be part of a helpful program of treatment, but having someone to talk with and work on these issues may do even more to change things for the better.

Ron Breazeale  Ron Breazeale, Ph.D