# ME TO. Shouting out our anger and rage

THIS SOUNDS RIGHT

Dorothy Smith has shown how women are forced into a secondhand understanding of the world. Women are trained to invalidate their own experiences, understanding, and feelings and to look to men to tell them how to view themselves. Ideas, concepts, images, and vocabularies that women use to think about their experiences have been formulated from the male point of view by universities, churches, and other social institutions.

In Women and Madness Phyllis Chesler  describes  women’s experiences as psychiatric patients. Very few of the women she interviewed appears to have a mental disturbance. Most were unhappy and responding to the oppression in their lives. Seeking help, Chelser  pointed out, is not valued in our society, and women seemed to be punished “for their own good” by the institution for exhibiting such weakness.

Jean Baker Miller looked at the relations between dominant and subordinate groups. She isolated certain characteristics of subordinate groups as typical of any irrationally unequal power  relations based on ascribed status such  as race religion or sex. Those in  a relationship of subordination need to survive, above anything else. Direct response to destructive treatment must be avoided, as it may be met with rejection, punishment, or even death. Women who step out of line Miller noted, can suffer a combination of social ostracism, economic hardship, and psychological isolation. They may even be diagnosed as having a personality disorder if they do not conform to the male-defined norm for a woman.

If conflict cannot be expressed openly, it is turned inward and the ground is fertile for depression. Once depression is identified, the victim is blamed for her illness, and she accepts this responsibility until she is helped to examine her own self-defeating patterns, to see how she allows  herself to be victimized.”

SOURCE:  Melva Steen, Ph.D, RN. Historical Perspectives on Women and mental illness and preventing of depression in women using a feminist perspective. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 12:359-374, 1991.

Appeared in THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET in the Spring  edition  (v.5, #3: 8-9).1994. 

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The following is an excerpt from the Basic Text for the fellowship of Depressed Anonymous world wide.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition , 2011,2008, 1998. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Ky. Page 82.

“Maybe I need to make amends to my children for  making a clean house the number one priority the number one priority and never allowing them to give expression to their feelings. Or maybe I was the good daughter or son who never told anyone how I really felt because I was afraid of how my parents would react. Now we might be dredging up all the old feelings of anger and resentment that we have submerged under a mask of  kindness ands sweetness over the years. We need to voice our anger for having to act like someone we aren’t. I can think of many women who in therapy begin to get in touch with the times when as little girls, they were conditioned to think that good little girls didn’t get angry, and so they stuffed and sat upon all these powerful and unpleasant emotions. Feelings that are not expressed can accumulate in our bodies and can’t get out until we share them and express them. These stuffed feelings get lodged in our bodies and immobilize us until we feel completely wrung out!

Some have heard all their lives that you shouldn’t get angry as mother won’t love you anymore. This makes it quite difficult suddenly to shout out our rage and anger at a world that has made women in general feel less than second-class citizens. ”

 

Drinking Depression

Drinking depression: One man’s story of recovery from alcoholism and depression and the parallels between the two.

I have had experiences with alcohol abuse since childhood. I have also struggled since childhood with depression. I quickly learned to rely on both.

I call this paper “drinking depression” because that’s exactly what I did when I no longer had the alcohol. The following thoughts will express my feelings and the parallels that I have seen between these two addictions.

RELIANCE

There was always an excuse to drink, mostly I was upset with something. I should really say angry, for it was anger at the root of my depression that I was trying to suppress  in medicating myself. Later, I learned to do the same thing with my depression except to be in a depressive state High. I didn’t even have to leave the house and after awhile I didn’t want to break the cycle of reliance that dependency had begun. When I was absorbing alcohol into my blood stream I was now injecting the depression into my soul and absorbing it like a sponge.

FAMILIARITY AND COMFORT

As a recovering alcoholic I can look back on my drinking and see when I took comfort in being drunk because after awhile the numbness became the only way I could feel better because when I was drunk I could retreat into myself and not have to deal with everyday life.

The same escape tool was used in the form of depression. I could ball up like a woolly worm and the outside world was not going to hurt me. However, the more I wallowed in the darkness of my depression the deeper I got stuck in the mud of despair and hopelessness.

DESPERATION

In order to deal with alcoholism and depression I had to hit rock bottom. I had reached a point in both, that I had to call out for help or drown in my addiction. I called on my Higher Power to help me with my depression. With guidance of the holy spirit I am harnessing   my talents now and I am seeing incredible results. My recovery has not been overnight, but it is a day by day and step by step recovery process.

THE PHYSICAL

After some time had passed, the drinking affects the physical body breaking it down. Once I saw a film in which the brain of a heroin addict and the alcoholic were very similar. The depression I experienced also has physical implications. For over twenty years the way my body would respond from too much emotional stress was to pass out. Instead of blacking out from   alcohol I was using depression to numb my brain and myself.

THE SPIRITUAL

When I was drinking I felt alienation and guilt. I felt professing  Christians did not drink  and the more I drank the more guilty I became. I felt that much more distant from God the more I drank and spiraled further down into a cycle of despair.

In my depression I felt God had no time for me and that I was unworthy of his love. Again it was a carousal filled with guilt and anger going round and round so that I couldn’t get off the merry go-round.

SELF ESTEEM

When I was drinking, I was sure that no one cared or understood what I was going through so I had many pity parties and I was the guest of honor. Why should I care if no one else cared- this was my way of thinking.

From painful experiences in my childhood I felt I was of no worth  and just taking up space. It has taken therapy and the support of family and friends to finally look in the mirror and begin to like what I saw.

HOPE

I have been sober over two years although  I often have the desire to drink.  I daily call on my Higher Power for help and march on one day at a time experiencing serenity and a release from my need to  take the first drink.

I have been in therapy for almost a year off and on, although in order to recover one has to stay with it. I have to take my emotional and spiritual healing like my drinking.– one day at a time and know when I can make it because it is only opening the door to the past can the light of the present get rid of the darkness today and have hope for the future.

It is my hope and prayer that this has helped you, the reader,  in some small way. It has helped me by writing about my experiences. May God put walls of protection around you so that the way ahead for you may be crystal clear and that today be your first step towards recovery.

God bless.

—Steve P.  A member of the Louisville Depressed Anonymous Group.

 

What am I feeling?

WHAT AM I FEELING?

                                 Anger? Hostility? Aggression?

Anger: An emotion that says “Something is wrong.” That  it can be expressed to tell others about your personal limits, values, rules, and boundaries. The respectful expression of anger is an important way to educate others about how their behavior affects you. It can result in mutual respect between you and another person.

Hostility: An attitude that contributes to the violation of another person’s rights, values, rules, or boundaries. This attitude can include ruminating or brooding about another person’s real or perceived injustices toward you and ways that you can  “get even” with him/her   and this attitude leads to feelings of powerlessness. It can often lead to aggression our withdrawal as a way to punish others.

Aggression: A behavior, acted on with the intent to harm others, either physically or emotionally for real or imagined  “wrongs” done to you. This behavior always results in disrespect for yourself or the other person. It creates distance between you rather that brings you closer.

                           Learning how to express anger respectfully.

1.  Admit your anger. Accept that you are angry. Shouting “I am not angry!” at the other person only escalates you more. It can be safe and growth producing to acknowledge that you are angry.

2. Take a “timeout” to cool down if you need it.  Learning to deal respectfully and constructively with your anger takes time and practice.

3. Identify the source of your anger (look for your primary feelings). Make sure you perceived what happened correctly. Ask yourself questions like: ” what is my negative self-talk?” “Am I  dealing only with this issue at hand or are there other stressors that have already escalated me before this?” “Am I looking for a reason to blowup?”

4. Separate the energy of your anger (pent up feelings inside you seeking release) from the issue your anger is about (the condition, idea, event, or person you feel angry at).

5. Decide how and when you will express your anger.

6. Talk to the other person involved with your anger. Share your anger and any  primary feelings you can identify in an open, direct, and respectful way.

7. Make  “I” statements. Take responsibility for your own feelings. Resist the temptation to blame someone else for  “making you” feel angry.

8. Listen closely to the others point of view. Recognize and accept that their view may be quite different from yours. Remember that they have a right to their perspective and feelings.

9. Get in touch with your expectations and your intentions in sharing your anger. The purpose is not to “win” the argument (or discussion) or to make the other person agree with you or your point of view. Rather, it is an opportunity to give  both of you a time to express feelings.  Also,  explore alternatives such as compromising. Or you can “Agree to disagree” and table the discussion until another time.”

Source: The Depressed Anonymous Workbook. (2002). Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 34 to 35.

Please VIST THE STORE  for more information on the Depressed Anonymous Workbook and the Depressed Anonymous Manual, both of which comprise the HOME STUDY KIT which can be purchased online.

We learn to be “nice.”

” Because you are unaware of being angry does not mean that you are not angry. It is the anger you are unaware of which can do the most damage to you and to your relationships with other people, since it does not get expressed, but in inappropriate ways. Freud once likened anger to the smoke in an old fashioned wood burning stove. The normal avenue for discharge of the smoke is up the flue and out of the chimney; if the normal avenue is blocked, the smoke will leak out the stove in unintended ways…around the door, through the grate, etc., choking everyone in the room. If all avenues of escape are blocked, the fire goes out and the stove ceases to function. Likewise, the normal human expression of anger is gross physical movement and /or loud vocalization; watch a red-faced hungry infant sometime. We learn to “be nice,” which  means  (among other things) hiding “bad” feelings. By adulthood, even verbal expression is curtailed, since a civilized person is expected to be “civil.” Thus, expression is stifled, and to protect ourselves from the unbearable burden of continually unexpressed “bad” feelings, we go to the next step and convince ourselves that we are not angry, even when we are.  Such deception is seldom completely successful and the blocked anger “leaks out” in inappropriate ways…”

Source: The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Page 33.

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Some of my own feelings about anger have to do when anger is stifled or swallowed. I do know that a result of stifling my anger is the build up of resentments. If we want to really deal with our anger then we must be willing to express our feelings,  even though they might make us feel very uncomfortable. All I am saying is that  NOT to express feelings and stifle them will create more emotional pain and more damage for our lives. So, to my mind, the best way to get the anger out is to get oneself to a Depressed Anonymous meeting where we can get the help we need  and share those feelings that cause us so much grief.