What I Must Do When I’m Angry

What I Must Do When I’m Angry
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hurricane in heels

Lupus sucks. Let’s just acknowledge that from the onset. I was living an awesome life, and then it came to a screeching halt. Lupus was pretty aggressive with me. Almost immediately, I felt anxiety and confusion, and eventually, anger. These are signs of depression, but I didn’t know that at the time. Now in all fairness, I was already dealing with some underlying anger anyway, so I also did not realize that lupus was making that worse. I just figured it was something I still needed to work on.

When you get a life-changing diagnosis, there are a lot of unanswered questions, and I will be honest, I don’t ask a lot of questions for which I know there will be no answers. I see that as a perfect waste of my time. Who is going to tell me why I got lupus? The question for me becomes more about how to deal, how to feel better, how to help others.

When I initially got diagnosed and shared my situation with others, I got a ton of unsolicited advice. At first, I was very cordial in accepting it and hearing people out, but lately, I notice something within me has changed — and, quite honestly, not for the better.

I am angry. I mean really angry. To the point of no-filter kind of angry. It’s not just about lupus, either. Recently, I have had a few encounters with people who have said things that I know were spoken out of sheer ignorance or because they found them to be funny. I did not find them funny, but in the past, I would have laughed it off. I would just allow foolish comments like “You’re so pretty for a black girl” to roll off me like water off a duck’s back.

Before, if people granted me permission to not do something because my lupus had flared up, I would take it as the compliment they thought they were giving. I find that I am no longer doing that. Now, I promptly let them know, “I didn’t ask, nor do I require, your permission.” I am saying exactly — exactly — what I feel in those moments, and it is really catching people off guard.

In those moments, I feel a weird sense of relief in my frankness, but social norms tell me this is not the best way to handle things. In a split second, I’ve decided that the speaker is not someone I want in my circle. I hope to never have to engage with them again, so I am basically rude.

Now, I pride myself on being self-aware and I try to correct things in my life that I know are not good for me or those around me. Is it bad to say that part of me does not want to correct this behavior? I did, however, review it so I would know why I was feeling this anger and taking it out on others. Here is what I have concluded: In each of the situations, I have felt diminished in some way. I felt the speaker was exerting control over me in a way that I didn’t appreciate.

With lupus, I already feel a loss of control over the things that were once enjoyable. I used to make swift decisions and carry them out. Now, lupus can change all the plans I’ve made by flaring mere hours before I am supposed to go do something amazing with amazing people.

Speaking my mind in that moment is my way of taking back the control that I feel others have tried to take for themselves. In the past, I would deal gingerly with these situations; now I am so blatant that people are visibly moved. The angry part of me takes a little pleasure in knowing that I made an impact. Hopefully, I also gave them some insight into what they may have said or done that was wrong.

I don’t know if I will actively try to change what I have noticed about myself, but I at least know about it and I know what motivates it. I will either embrace this new boldness or learn to tame it, along with my other symptoms of depression.

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