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Why did I write it? Because, I was angry, which in turn made me feel completely guilty. I understood what was going on. Thus, I wrote the post, “The Anger at Someone with Mental Illness No One Talks About.”
Because I felt like I was a horrible hypocrite.
I have a hard time handling my husband’s mental illnesses, even though I struggle with an eating disorder, anxiety, and chronic depression. It makes me angry when my husband is so distant and agitated. While, he in turns deals with me lying in bed for days unable to move, cringing at the thought of him touching me. That must make me a horrible hypocritical wife.
I could not deal with the pain of failing as a wife anymore.
I had to know the truth. How could I preach about understanding mental illness while being furious with my own husband’s struggles?
It was in talking to my therapist that I slowly came to realize what was going on. As we talked about anger, she helped me understand that I was terrified of anger. That, I struggle with confrontation anxiety, which stems back to the brief time when I was being verbally abused.
I was terrified of anger. Bad things happen when people get angry. Anytime my husband got angry I would try to “help” him out of it. I refused to be angry. If anything upset me, I would explain that I was only frustrated. Anger was a negative emotion that I wanted nothing to do with!
Avoiding confrontation caused issues in my marriage. Living in denial of anger was emotionally destroying me.
I was falling apart, although I did not even know it.
After many sessions of therapy talking about anger, my therapist helped me understand that there is nothing wrong with feeling anger. It is a very natural response that I do not need to shame myself for feeling. There are no negative emotions, only negative responses to emotions. It is good and important to feel anger.
Like I explained in Part 1 of this post, people feel anger for the following four reasons:
- A threat to a person you feel it is your duty to protect.
- Example: Child runs into the road.
- A threat to your physical well-being.
- Example: Someone almost hits you with their car.
- A threat to your core beliefs.
- Example: Catching a child lying to you.
- A threat to your sense of self-worth.
- Example: Being caught in a lie.
Anger allows for motivation in addition to change. Martian Luther King Jr. is a great example of this. He was angry, but that did not mean he was violent and dangerous because of it.
So, why was I so angry with my husband when his mental illness kicked in?
What I came to realize was that it is because I love him. I know the darkness he is stuck in therefore it hurts to watch him struggle in a way I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I am angry that he must deal with the horror of depression and anxiety. I am angry that he hates himself. I am angry that his depression causes him to distance himself from me. I am angry because I seriously care about him.
Realizing what exactly I was angry at, has helped me to better control my anger when he is going through his bouts of depression and anxiety. Instead of lashing out at him and his needs, I remember it is the illnesses affecting him that I am upset with.
Having mental illnesses while being angry when my husband’s struggles does not make me a hypocrite. That is only when I get angry with him not his illness. This anger means that I deeply care about him because I’m not okay with him being in pain. This is what gives me the motivation to fight for his health and safety. This is why I am so passionate about understanding mental illness. That is why I wrote the post.
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