How bipolar anger differs from other anger.
Right now I could break something. Whether it be the pen in my hand or the mirror across the room, something needs to be destroyed. Bipolar anger says it must be done.
Does that sound familiar to you? Maybe you didn’t have the immediate desire to break something, but have you ever had a time when you were suddenly and inexplicably angry? Might it even have been described as rage?
This post will look at what Bipolar anger and rage are really like. The next post will discuss five things you can do to help you snap out of it. First, though, let’s talk about the emotion of anger and where it comes from.
What Is Bipolar Anger?
Everyone gets upset from time to time. It’s a simple fact of life. The cause might be the idiot that just cut you off on the highway or the vending machine that ate your money and gave you nothing in return.
There are many good reasons to be upset. As we become adults, we learn that disappointments and frustrations will come and that we need to learn how to deal with them.
Bipolar anger, on the other hand, is a very different animal. While most anger has a cause and effect formula, the Bipolar kind often comes on with no warning and with no recognizable trigger.
What Is Bipolar Rage?
Sometimes the oncoming emotion is so intense, so completely overwhelming, that it has to be described as something more. This is Bipolar rage.
As a way of an illustration, you can think of Bipolar anger and an upset housecat. Perhaps the poor kitty has just gotten his tail stepped on or had a menacing dog come too close.
Bipolar rage, on the other hand, would be more like being a hungry lion and someone has just tried to drag your last and only food source away. There will be blood.
For me, bipolar rage typically includes the need to break or destroy something, drive very fast, or berate someone verbally. It’s a very ugly beast and usually one I feel like I’m only watching, helpless to control its actions.
Mania or Depression?
Many people say that this type of anger is part of the manic cycle. Others will tell you that it’s part of depression. I’m not a medical professional, so I can’t say one way or the other. I have debated the topic many times, but even among other bipolar patients, there doesn’t seem to be any agreement.
For the sake of argument, I am going to say that Bipolar rage is part of mania. There are two reasons I think this way.
First, when I am dealing with Bipolar Depression, it is very hard for me to do much of anything at all. If getting out of bed or taking a shower seems too daunting, it’s hard to imagine that the desire to break things would be part of that depression.
Second, in my experience, Bipolar rage always comes after a period, usually an extended amount of time, where I have been manic.
The most intense rage, the kind where I might destroy physical property or lash out verbally at others, tends to follow long periods of mania, especially those where I’ve had little or no sleep.
The above describes where I am today, though I have grown to the point that I rarely destroy property or verbally abuse others anymore. I have learned to keep my bipolar monster caged on days like today.
Read more of my battle with mental illness in the series Surviving Bipolar.
Bipolar Anger Triggers
If you’re a fan of the Marvel universe – I’m personally a huge sci-fi fan – you know the triggers that cause the generally mild-tempered Bruce Banner to turn into The Incredible Hulk. Usually, there is some sort of pain inflicted or someone that Bruce cares about is in mortal danger.
True-life triggers for bipolar anger are not always so distinct.
One of the worst times I have displayed Bipolar rage in public, I was triggered by the smallest of things – the temperature in a conference room.
Here’s the short story. I was attending a lecture from a traveling speaker. Many of those in attendance, including my parents, were 65 or older.
The speaker was a bit overweight and didn’t like to sweat. To keep himself cool, he instructed that the temperature be set at 62-degrees (16.6 C). The thermostat was locked and could not be changed for the duration of the meeting.
I was cold, but that’s not uncommon for me. With Familial Mediterranean Fever, I run a low-grade fever almost every day, but I couldn’t help but notice how uncomfortable my parents and most of the other older ones looked.
When the meeting ended, I walked back to the thermostat and noted the temperature. Seeing the number 62 displayed flung me into an instant rage. I don’t remember all of what I said, but I do know it was very ugly and unkind.
Download a PDF copy of this post from our Free Resource Library.
Now that you know a little about Bipolar anger, what can you do when you are dealing with it? Click through to read the next post for five things you can do to control the beast call Bipolar Rage.