Can Anxiety Make You Angry?
How true that anxiety can make you angry? Well, it happens to those of us with anxiety all the time. The little things that are part of our everyday environment set us over the edge. That feeling of not being able to see straight, or “seeing red” as it is sometimes referred to, can be triggered by the most innocent of things. When you’re juggling all of the responsibilities of the day, the tasks that won’t get done, an interruption during a busy time, it can feel like a flip of the switch.
Anxiety can make you angry.
The other day a friend shared a personal story with me, and with her permission allowed me to share it as an example of this very thing.
This friend, a mother of two young children, had woken up at 5 a.m. (as she does every day) to complete her mounting to-do list. She wanted to get in her workout, fold the laundry, shower, wash the dishes, send a couple of emails, get the kids fed, etc. all before getting the kids off to baseball practice. The list was set and it all seemed manageable. All was well until the dog ate the kids’ breakfast, the mom ran out of shampoo, the kids got into an argument, the dishwasher was full, and all of a sudden the mom was running out of time. Those overwhelming feelings crept up on her, then her child asked her if they could go to the park after baseball…and she lost it.
Anxiety makes it difficult
It seems so simple. So innocent. Yet those moments of anger are a frequent part of living with someone with anxiety. It is not that the mom wanted to be angry with her child for asking about going to the park. But it is just that it felt like one more thing added to a mounting to-do list. Could that laundry wait? Those dishes wait? Yes. But, with anxiety, it can be hard to think in those logical terms (even for the most logical of people). It is not that we want to be an angry person. We want to be a place of solitude for those we love. We want to be a safe landing zone, not something to be feared.
After that moment went down, her kids looked at her in fear and she felt awful. She was full of guilt, overcome with emotion and started on her usual string of apologies. She didn’t mean to lash out, yes she would take them to the park. And, her kids, used to the drill, gave her grace. They forgave and hugged her. They told her they loved her. Then, she asked if they were ok.
Help is Available
This is one of the ugly sides of anxiety. It is hard. Acknowledging these issues, getting help from a licensed professional, learning coping mechanisms, stepping away from the situation, all of these are positive steps in the right direction. Nobody wants to be an angry person. We all want to be calm and level-headed. If you are an anxiety sufferer, allow yourself some grace. Try to say “yes” more often. Give yourself breaks. Apologize to those you love. Talk to them, explain to them why you may have reacted the way you did. Teach them the beauty of forgiveness.
Relating to our previous post on how managing your anxiety, especially as a parent, is important so that you don’t pass it on to your children. Take the difficult step to acknowledge that anxiety can make you angry and is crucial in dealin with your chidlre. Why not talk to a therapist now and be ready when faced with this situation over and over again.