Temper

Posted: January 5, 2007 in Headspace, Journal

The other day I was trying to put together something and the directions were less than clear, and I couldn’t figure it out. I felt an unfamiliar yet familiar feeling – my chest tightened, my movements jerked, my eyes smarted, and my breath hissed from between my teeth.

Good God, I was losing my temper.

My friends, that hasn’t happened in YEARS. I mean, I got angry when provoked to it, I’ve even yelled and slammed things. But it has been so long since I’ve lost patience over an object that wouldn’t cooperate with me, at first I didn’t recognize the feeling for what it was.

I didn’t know what to do, at first. I just wanted to… break it, or something. I actually had to step away, sit for a second, and try to remember what I used to do when I lost my temper. This time, I worked out HARD while listening to loud music, and that did the trick. Next time, hopefully, I’ll be within range of my elliptical and my weight set. If not, well, walking away still does the trick.

It was so weird, though. Like the Effexor and Wellbutrin I’ve been on for the last several years have managed the emotions for me, without me having to do it for myself. I felt sad when I was supposed to, angry when I was supposed to, happy when I was supposed to, but it’s like the emotion was dealt with for me, without me having to think about it. I observed and participated in the feelings, but didn’t generate them myself and didn’t deal with them myself.

Is this making any sense? (“No, but that’s common in head injuries.” “My shoes!” Heh. Spot the reference!)

Upon further examination and discussion with Calvin (who really is an excellent listener and advisor), I realized that I was back to having to manage my anxiety again, too. I’m sure I’m having normal levels of the type of anxiety that we all deal with all of our lives, but somehow it seems so much more profound, since I haven’t really felt ANY anxiety for a couple of years. I mean, literally, none. Not even the helpful little signals that usually help people get things done… like, “Oh, gee, I better balance the checkbook before we have no money.” The meds just made me go, “Eh, it’s no big deal.” To a LOT of things, I’m now realizing.

Calvin’s going to read that paragraph and say, “So that’s what her problem was!” Poor guy has been scratching his head at my lack of motivation for a while, now. Well, duh. We both should have realized what was going on.

So, I’m trying to remember how I dealt with anxiety. Action seems to be the answer. Physical energy needs to be expended when I lose my temper… but specific action needs to be taken when I’m anxious. Worrying about money? Balance the checkbook, examine the current status, make a plan. There, I feel better. Worrying about Calvin? Make a phone call, talk to him, search him out wherever he is and get a hug. There, I feel better. Afraid the end of the world is around the corner? Distract myself by reading a book, watching a movie, working on some project I’ve got going, cleaning the crap out of the house.

I know how to manage my own mind, my own emotions. I probably know better than most people, even. It seems that I just forgot how and actually have to remind myself to do it, now. I knew there would be physical side effects to going off the meds (dizziness, the shakes), and emotional side effects (kind of like PMS for a whole two months, then it was better and I was leveled out). Now I’m having to manage my own, oh, mental stability, if you will.

I used to have all of these mechanisms in place before, when I was a mess. Now that I’m no longer messy, I’m finding I need to still keep a bead on myself. Take stock every now and then and do some self-examination of my behavior and emotions. I can’t ignore them anymore and get away with it, because the meds are gone and it’s just me keeping an eye on things, now.

I feel kind of dumb, like I just made this great discovery that everybody on Earth already knew about. It’s a good thing to look inward on a regular basis to make sure I’m not being an asshole.

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