A painful chronic illness like psoriatic arthritis can bring out the witch in even the kindest of people. Pain and fatigue often shortens my fuse causing me to unnecessarily lash out. For longer than I would like to admit, my immediate family were the ones who suffered from my irritability the most. If someone left a glass on a living room end table I would go into a tirade that would have only been appropriate if our house had been robbed.
Who was I really angry at?
Over time my fits of fury overflowed beyond the really painful days. Anger, bitterness, and resentment over powered the joy I once had. Believe it or not, I rarely had something nice to say. My wakeup call came when after one such berating, my then very young daughter ran to her room crying. What the heck was wrong with me? She didn’t deserve the tongue lashing that I dished out. After apologizing and comforting her, I put myself in timeout. While in timeout I was able to acknowledge that I wasn’t angry with my daughter for leaving a perishable food out on the counter. I was angry at myself for having fallen asleep and not being awake to make sure the ice cream was put away. If only I had fought harder against the fatigue I wouldn’t have had to push through an already ridiculous pain level to clean the mess up. You would think coming to this realization would have limited my verbal attacks on others, but it didn’t. Instead it just fed the darkness inside of me until all I could see was ugliness in everything. Years later I came to the realization that it was my chronic conditions that I was angry at, not my family, not my friends, and not even myself.
No more drive-by shootings
This realization made me see that my anger had been misdirected. Instead of shooting my verbal bullets at my illnesses I was shooting them at innocent victims, including myself. No matter how hard I tried there were always going to be times when my conditions were going to trump what I wanted or needed to do. They decide when I am going to sleep, play, or work. They are the hooligans that needed to be reprimanded. Now when I feel my anger rising past an appropriate level in regards to the situation I pull back and take a breather. I literally speak to my chronic conditions and express my anger towards them. Once that is out of my system, I am able go back and address the situation with my children, husband, or friends without biting off their heads.