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Anger management techniques for a middle-aged woman

IMG_0870Last Friday afternoon I found myself standing behind what used to be an auto repair shop with a 16-pound sledgehammer over my head, beating the crap out of a large tire. It’s not something you would expect a 56-year-old woman to do on a sweltering summer day in Florida.

But I was angry. I had just spent an hour in what I shall call “intense fellowship” with a handful of my colleagues and a lawyer and I was not at all happy with the outcome of the meeting. I knew if I did not get rid of that anger in an “appropriate” way, it would come out sideways.

Most likely I would verbally eviscerate someone and remain pissed off for days. I would relive that intense hour of fellowship over and over – fuming, stewing and creating scripts of what I would do next.

And then I heard a little voice: Depression is anger turned inward.

The first time I heard that phrase it made no sense to me. How could my adrenalin-fueled rage morph into profound, debilitating depression. How could the mental acuity, singleness of purpose and raw energy of my rage devolve into a listlessness so extreme that I had no desire to get out of bed, eat or finally, live?

I’m sure it was explained to me by a therapist or self-help book. I hit home and I remember thinking, that’s an interesting concept. I was so frustrated that nothing seemed to be lifting me out of my depression – medications, therapy, 12-step meetings – that I was willing to try anything.

My first attempt at dealing with my anger – which at the time I could not see in myself – involved a pillow. Beating the crap out of a pillow with a whiffle bat. I instantly realized that not only did this make me feel stupid, it wasn’t enough. The sound of a whiffle bat hitting a pillow wasn’t doing it for me. But I was on to something.

So, I grabbed a metal baseball bat, put on my steel-toed boots, drove to a junk-yard and beat the crap out of a green truck. The whole thing got a little out of hand and I kind of lost control but I knew I was on to something, despite every muscle in my body aching for days afterward.

I had never hit anything hard before, except a tennis ball. Damn, did it feel good.

So, after my intense hour of fellowship last Friday, I knew I needed to hit something. Lucky for me, my gym is a few hundred feet from my office. Several years ago I took up CrossFit – an intense, controversial, cult-like exercise program that provided a healthy outlet for the mania that fueled my hypomania.

Between my medications, 12-Step meetings and CrossFit, my life had become stable. I learned to like stable. No more extreme ups and downs. Just stable.

I realized that very bad things I would happen if I didn’t get rid of the rage I felt when the intense hour of fellowship ended. Then I though of the sledge hammers at the CrossFit gym down the street. Wouldn’t it feel good to swing that mother and bash it into a tire until the rage was gone?

Hell, yes.

So, that’s what I did.  It went on for awhile. I swung for as long as I could, then rested, and swung some more. The rage finally petered out. I took a shower and went back to work. Everything was peachy. I felt lighter. I could focus on my work. I could hold a civilized conversation.

I had a lovely weekend. I am still not happy about what happened at work, but I had not let it consume me and drag me down. I had righted myself and it felt good knowing I had the power to do so. God bless that sledge hammer and my willingness to pick it up.


Anger management techniques for a middle-aged woman

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2015). Anger management techniques for a middle-aged woman. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 24 Aug 2015
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