Anger and Chronic Pain
Okay, my blogging buddies, I am going to tell it like it is tonight. I am pissed. Today is an Angry at the World Day. Those of you who have been following my blog (thank you) know what I have been going through this past year. I will spare you the repetition of listing what stinks about my life, but today is about how I feel about what is happening. And I am ticked off.
I was walking my dog this afternoon and I worked myself into a fuming sort of rage. I kept thinking: Why?? Why me? Yes, it is a self-pitying phrase, it is self-defeating but it is a question that people are always asking. So, seriously why me?!
I was hot and pained and cranky and annoyed that the world does not stop when I have bad days. Despite how I felt, I still had to excercise. I believe that is what pushed me over the edge. I HAVE TO exercise. Basically if I don’t keep my back and core muscles strong, I will not be able to move and will have even more pain. In my anger, I kept thinking, why do I have to spend the rest of my life working out? There are so many people who should work out or who need to work out and don’t, but they don’t HAVE TO. I HAVE TO. That’s not fair!
This is not fair. There, I said it. My childish inner self is sulking, pouting, stomping my feet and saying: “This is unfair!” I don’t want to be sick, I don’t want to be in pain, I don’t want to take 5 medications, I don’t want to have to work out, I don’t want to ruin my marriage because of my misery and I don’t want to be depressed and angry. I am angry about being angry.
So, how do I deal with the anger? Right now I am in my own wallowing stage. As a medical professional I will often tell patients that it is okay to feel your feelings. If you are sad, feel it. If you are depressed, take a day and wallow in it. The longer you fight having to feel your emotions, the longer the emotion will fight with you to be felt. Trying to ignore an emotion, especially a strong, negative emotion, is like trying not to slap at the obnoxious fly that is buzzing in your ear- you probably won’t kill it and it’s just going to keep bothering you!
I try not to wallow too long. I know from being a sullen teenager that being angry all the time gets you nowhere. My concern, however, is that the anger seldom seems to leave anymore because I keep losing more and more of my life and myself because of this. As I feel better, something new comes along to deal with. Yes, I understand that is life, but I need a break.
To try and cope with the irritability I moved on to a craft that I had been working on. I enjoy doing crafts and since I was doing something that used my hands and my mind, it helped me to calm down a bit and be distracted. Talking or writing about my feelings is also a good way to help me let go and move on, hence this post.
The hardest part is letting go of the anger. Anger is a natural part of living with chronic pain. Heck, it’s part of dealing with life and the many obstacles we must cross. Even the most positive person gets mad about the shoddy hand they have been dealt sometimes. The bottom line is everyone, even people who are healthy, get mad. And that’s OK. Never let anyone tell you: “you shouldn’t be mad, it doesn’t do you any good.” I am here to say that it is an emotion, your emotion, and it’s okay (so long as you deal with it constructively and don’t harm anyone else in the process…just felt like I needed that disclaimer in this day and age). It’s OK to be a child and stomp your feet and yell “this is not fair, this sucks!” It’s OK! Feel your anger! But, after you have felt it, try to let it go and move on.
How do you cope with your anger?
Rydzy MSW, T. (2013). Anger and Chronic Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/chronic-pain/2013/06/anger-and-chronic-pain/