Emotions are puzzling. They have the power to make us feel really good, or really bad... the only question is why. From an evolutionary standpoint, having emotions was pivotal to the success of the human race. If we were unfeeling, apathetic robots, we probably wouldn't have cooperated with or even given a shit about each other, which isn't what you want in a society that is reliant on connection and communication.
When we take the time to analyze our emotions, we see they have great benefits, despite whether the emotion in question is "good" or "bad."
It's great for us to feel happy. Our positive mood affects others and makes them feel good, too (harmony is essential in a productive society).
It's great for us to feel afraid. Without that emotion, what would've caused early humans to run away from the giant mountain lion 100 feet away from them?
Believe it or not, but it's great for us to feel sad. It's been proven that sadness plays a large part in how humans develop empathy and generosity, which are two very important things we need as human beings.
The only emotion I haven't quite figured out yet is anger. That emotion, it seems, doesn't have a benefit. It's destructive by nature. When we get angry, we do lots of dumb things, like telling our partner they're really not as good in bed as they think they are, or throwing a drink at the car of the person who just cut us off, or even worse.
While not a positive emotion in and of itself, we can train ourselves to use anger as a motivating force to accomplish positive goals, like getting that promotion at work (so that we can then fire that one coworker we've always hated).
However, if we let it, anger doesn't bring us together. It can actually divide us.
I can vouch for that.
Some people have used the term "crazy" or "bitch" to describe me, but I think mildly aggressive is a softer and more appropriate term to use. I can admit it now, because my little problem is well under control, but I used to have anger issues.
Or what I thought at the time was anger issues.
Every little thing would irritate me: the way someone spoke, the way someone looked at me, being told to do things, etc. Every time I got irritated, it would be like the flame on a pot of water would be turned up, eventually to the point where the water started to boil over.
And then I would have a full meltdown.
I know I looked crazy to everyone else since I would go berserk (screaming, throwing things, insulting people, etc.) over the tiniest thing, but little did they know I had been accumulating irritation and annoyance for weeks on end. During my meltdowns, it was like I just snapped.
And then after snapping, I felt like shit.
I couldn't figure out why I was always so angry, or why I took out my anger on the people closest to me. I always considered myself a nice person… until I wasn't. And the transition from nice, generous girl to "bitch" wasn't quite clear to me.
It took me years to figure it out, but once I did, I realized I didn't have anger issues at all.
I was depressed.
Yes, you read that correctly. Depressed. "Angry depression," as I like to call it, is the same type of depression most people are familiar with. You feel tired all the time, unmotivated, deeply sad, and your self-esteem and self-confidence plummet to hell. You have crying spells, you isolate yourself from your friends and family, you feel like a failure who doesn't deserve to live... except for one little thing. You don't express these adverse and defeating emotions by being withdrawn and sedentary, you express it by being a raging bitch.
No one ever saw me cry. No one ever knew what I was feeling or thinking. They only saw that my patience was thin and that I had a tongue ready to hurl out words meant to kill.
I didn't want to be bothered by anyone. In fact, I made sure people avoided me because I didn't think I deserved any love or attention. As more people pushed me away, I got sadder, which lead to me thinking worse things about myself, which then led to more anger and then the whole process started all over again.
I was so angry because I felt like shit all the time. I was angry because I had forgotten what it felt like to be happy. I was angry because I didn't enjoy anything: not writing, not reading, not being with my family or friends, not even shopping. I felt trapped, like I had no control over my body or my life. I was angry because I didn't know why I felt the way I did and I couldn't figure out how to stop it.
I hated how angry I was and every time I lashed out, I hated myself just a little bit more. The cycle of sadness and self-deprecation was never-ending.
Thankfully, that chapter of my life is over. I am no longer depressed (although I still have my bitchy moments, like we all do) and I have to say it feels great. I feel like myself again and Lord knows that's a refreshing feeling. Over the past few months, as I've slowly started to enjoy my old activities and gain a more positive outlook on life, I've realized that my anger, as much as it had been a product of my depression, had also been my crutch.
Being a "bitch" wasn't something I did because I got high off of hurting others. It was the only way I knew how to express myself. Anger had been brewing deep inside of me for so long that it was the only emotion I knew. With my happiness and enjoyment of life gone, it was the only emotion I remembered and felt comfortable enough expressing. It became second nature to me.
With everything I've been through, the topic of mental health is extremely important to me. Tolerance and acceptance of these disorders and the people that suffer from them is something that we greatly lack as a society. When it comes to depression, we are familiar with one textbook version of it: the tired, lonely, and sad person that sits on their couch all day hating their existence.
While that is the reality for some people, depression can be expressed in a multitude of ways, either through anger or perhaps in no way at all (the number of people who are depressed but don't show it is much higher than we think). It's about time that we recognize that with mental illness, there are definite and unavoidable symptoms that all victims will experience, but when it comes to the expression of those symptoms, they can be as unique as the person suffering from the disorder.
It would've been nice if the people around me, instead of judging and isolating me, would've asked me if I needed help. Of course, I can't blame them. They didn't know. When someone is being hostile to you, the last thing you want to think about is how you can help them. However, I hope that by sharing my story that I can encourage other people to judge less and speak more. A simple question, like "Are you OK?" or "Is something bothering you?" would've meant so much to me. It's time that we stop assuming things about people and start trying to understand them more.
I also hope that by sharing my story I can show others that they're not alone. I'm not sure if my case of depression is textbook or rare, but for anyone out there that shows they feel like absolute crap through their anger, know that it's not your fault and that you can rid these negative emotions from your mind and your life.
So I hope that for all of the "bitches" out there who are not cold-hearted and vapid, but just going through something, that you seek the help that you need. And for those out there who have to deal with them, offer them just a little more patience and understanding.