Despair can drown you. It can make the very air you breathe insufferable to the point of suffocation. But what happens when all that sadness starts to boil into frustration? It becomes pliant. And unstable.
Many times, in my own personal experience, I have felt intense anger, both with myself and the world around me. These moments come strongest alongside my times of depression. When I start to hate myself, I become angry at myself for every perceived failing in life. I run a laundry list of things I find incomplete about me and measure them up to other people.
This is where the problem is. Measuring myself to others often leads to anger. First I feel entirely confused as to why my life feels like so scatterbrained and everyone else’s seems so calm and collected. I understand that they have problems just the same. but I’m not examining them through a human lens. I’m putting them up on a pedestal.
And here’s where the anger comes in. It feels unjustified sometimes to have my problems in life, while it only “seems” like others don’t. I begin to attribute blame on others for “having their shit all together” while I’m struggling, almost as if people are deliberately ignoring me. Depression can become selfish that way. I feel as if the world is one great club that wants me outside of it, rather than in. I start to think that others see all the failures I see in myself, but that they are indifferent to them. In my mind I’m asking “why you, but not me?”
And then I feel abandoned. And anger towards that abandonment. I feel like lashing out and yelling all my feelings aloud. In the past I have done this on social media. Now I work to control that impulse whenever it comes slipping up. I take medication and go to counseling.
But the anger is still there sometimes. And it feels hard to stop. Sometimes it’s directed outwards, but most of the time it becomes focused on me. I start to become angry and frustrated with myself for not measuring up in all the ways I think I should. I look to the future and see a life of emptiness, born out of the simple fact that I exist the way I am, almost like a curse.
But beneath that I am terrified. I am terrified of not “fitting in” or living an average 20-something life. And sometimes that despair feels so great that it explodes into anger and frustration. I am far more adept at managing it now than I was two years ago. But I still feel it rushing inside me at times. At those times it can feel easier to be angry than to give into despair. You don’t want to be sad or afraid, even when you know you are. So you try to replace it with another emotion: one that makes you feel stronger. Anger can give me the illusion of control: of standing firm against all the slings and arrows rushing towards me. But this is only illusion.
The reason why anger is such a strong part of depression is self-doubt. Once you start to un-love yourself, you become frustrated inside. You become angry at all your “shortcomings.” And you become angry at others for mastering them. Because, why should they be so lucky to succeed, while you’re still left behind? This is something I am still working on, day by day, to overcome. Despair can make you want to lash out, once you’re sick and tired of feeling it. But that’s the wrong way to quiet the storm. Because it only feeds fire to kindling. Instead of water.