Dragon mum, control complex, and hulkling: people shared stories on what it is like to cope with anger issues in their life, exploring some helpful tips on releasing and managing the anger. Can we learn to control it?
Although Urban Dictionary defines anger issues as “A problem one has controlling his/her temper over trivial concerns, usually resulting in broken walls and furniture as well as lots of swearing”- which is very relatable by the way – that’s not the right explanation.
Anger is probably one of the most debated emotions and we still struggle to explain it.
But can we explain anger?
Our perception of how we feel anger and how others do might often be tricky.
Anger – like all emotions – it’s completely personal and changes from person to person.
If we stick to this definition of anger: ‘a natural and mostly automatic response to the pain of one form or another (physical or emotional)’, could you imagine something more personal?
In a report that explores the psychology of anger, it says that “The type of pain does not matter; the important thing is that the pain experienced is unpleasant. Because anger never occurs in isolation but rather is necessarily preceded by pain feelings, it is often characterized as a ”second hand” emotion.”
For the mental health awareness week, we spoke to people who deal with anger issues in their everyday life.
Through their stories we highlighted the ‘joy and sorrow’ of overcoming the so-called invisible mental health issue, adding some expert issues as well as the benefits of functional medicine to treat anger.
I say ‘invisible’ because anger issues are probably one of the most underrated problems that affect our mental stability.
Is not rare to feel like the people around you – your family, your friends, your teacher, your boss, your partner – don’t fully understand you.
After reading this article, your hulking issues and your constant internal screams will sound not as rare as you might think.
“I didn’t know at the time but I was the dragon mum. I was very angry.”
Filipa Bellette shares with Mental Health Magazine her story as a parent experiencing anger issues postpartum.
She is the co-founder of Chris&Filly Functional Medicine and a Functional Medicine Practitioner.
The 36-year-old practitioner overcame anger issues approaching functional medicine.
“After my first baby I had a lot of health issues and during that time I took a lot of antibiotics and just a high street situation: you know, the baby wasn’t sleeping, the baby was crying. And then it started after my second baby,” she explains.
Bellette told us that’s when she started feeling anxiety and panic attacks.
“I was just angry all the time. Every single noise my child would make or when they asked me a question I just… got triggered. I was losing the plot.”
“I felt like the way I could cope was just kinda like to block my children, like ‘Don’t come to me go to dad’,” says the Functional Medicine practitioner.
Bellette says that no one had any idea of what she was going through – not her mom, sister, or friends – and before
she could realise it, it was routine to put a fake smiley face on the outside.
“I’ve started becoming frightened by the type of person I became,” said the 36-year-old mother, adding that she always dreamed of being a mom and always had “a vision of how lovely was going to be, how my children were going to love me.”
“If I was a fly on the wall I would be like ‘you’re being emotionally abusive to your children.’ I just felt like I had no control.”
She carried on for about 6 months before she started investigating: “It wasn’t until I realised that my behaviour was no longer only affecting me but my children too.”
“I had immunity system issues, I was always catching colds, flu, and my body was in chronic pain all the time.
I felt sick and tired. So that’s when I started studying nutrition and nutritional medicine as well.”
The practitioner utters that she felt that something in her body was deeply unbalanced.
“I was listening to a podcast, and I came across my actual Functional Medicine mentor, I’ve been working with him for the past 4 years.”
Bellette explains: “It’s about treating the body naturally but is also about doing lab tests that look like you got health, like your brain health and all the different body systems that doctors don’t usually look at.”
Pushed by her need to find out what was happening inside her body she treated herself first through her mentor’s guidance and she’s now a functional medicine practitioner.
“I felt like this dark cloud had finally left me and I felt bright. I felt happy.” The 36-year-old mum confesses she still has some of those moments but she’s now able to control the way she responds and saves her Dragon Mum version “for moments when I really need it.”
She clarifies dealing with anger issues during the pandemic has been difficult, but better. “I felt like a cope better this time in terms of not letting my anxiety and anger come out on the kids. Instead of pushing through, I took the kids to nature and we just walked everywhere.”
Filipa Bellette now has lots of clients that deal with the same problem she used to have and helps them through Functional Medicine.
Jessica Bashir, nanny, and student, tells us she started having anger issues around the age of 14 years old.
“I didn’t deal with them at the time, I used to smoke a lot of weed and that seemed to help but had to stop because of other mental health issues.”
The 20-year-old nanny confesses she tried medications first but they “made me so much worse, as in I was fine one week and the next I didn’t leave my bed for 8 months due to depression and anxiety.”
She then approached therapy to manage anger issues: “It’s okay, but I have a very short attention span so it’s not working great.”
“I tend to take out my anger on my mum and my boyfriend,” she says, adding that she manages it by thinking about how much they mean to her.
“When I’m angry my boyfriend grabs both my arms and makes eye contact with him and then he says ‘you’re safe. You’re fine. Calm down, everything is okay, and then hugs me.”
Bashir, who admits to having “100% a control complex”, said her experience during lockdown started fine at first.
“During lockdown I was fine, I was more chilled than usual because I experienced anxiety as well. I was grateful for a break, however the longer it’s going on, the worse it’s getting. It’s making me feel trapped and because I can’t control the situation it’s making it worse,” she confesses.
“I don’t think anyone will ever understand unless they deal with anger issues themselves,” claimed Bashir.
She described it as the most “confusing, guilty feeling in the world. It’s horrible. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and have to remind myself who I am.”
We spoke to Cheryl Muir, a Relationship Expert who works helping people to manage anger issues as well.
The expert points out that the most common mistake with anger is “to assume we feel anger towards something at the moment, for example, the actions or words of another person.
In reality, the issue goes much deeper. We are being reminded of an experience, a past traumatic memory, and the present-moment actions and words of this person are pressing up against the memory we have not yet acknowledged and healed.”
“We cannot pray, meditate, journal, or talk our way out of anger. We have to physically release anger from the body.”
“We do this through physical exertion like running, HIIT training, kickboxing, and so on. This is particularly important for women, who tend to be shamed for feeling anger and subconsciously choose to suppress and ignore it.”
The relationship expert explains that we can do an ‘anger release exercise’ with a progressive, modern practitioner.
“In this exercise, the practitioner will use pre-agreed-to trigger phrases while we strike an object, for example, using boxing gloves and a boxing bag. This releases the pent-up anger from our bodies at the traumatic event that happened to us.
From there, we can look at other emotions that are hidden underneath the anger – sadness, hurt, betrayal, heartbreak. The tender emotions that feel raw.”
Muir also breaks down the meaning of ‘appropriate anger’, which means feeling a level of anger appropriate to our circumstances.
“It is entirely appropriate to feel anger towards a traumatic event we had no control over, which is impacting our lives. This is true for past trauma; this is also true for 12 months of being locked in our homes.”
Considering the impact of the global pandemic on our lives as well as our mental health, the expert says: “Specifically with lockdowns, my recommendation would be – step one,
release the anger from your body through physical movement (in whatever small space you have). Second, tend to the emotions underneath – sadness and grief. Third – decide what you will do next. What can you do? What is within your control? What will you do next?”