• Quote of the Day
    "The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well."
    Alfred Adler, posted by David Baxter

davecazz

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I've been suffering from Anger problems my whole life although only recently (2 months) have I learned that my anger is an addiction. At certain times of my life, I've attended various forms of therapy, mostly for depresion and anxiety.

I've lost a lot of relationships through Anger even though it seems like my side of the argument is always the right side and the other person did me wrong somehow. I've broken many glasses, cell phones, and walls as well. I've never been violent with women although I've shoved and hit men that I was angry with. I've also been known to terrorize telemarkers and utility customer support people for sport.

My current state is that I just got married in October and am now writing on a house in the San Francisco area. I am generally considered a mellow guy that most people consider as "too nice" except for the fact that I have major anger outbursts about once every 2-3 weeks. I have been seeing a therapist for 3 months now which was triggered by some really bad outbursts that I was having with my wife in the month leading up to our wedding.

Last night I had another major outburst with my wife and I thought my marriage was done. I went over a new line this time and held her to stop her from trying to get away from me (I feel like she is abandoning me and it drives me even more over the edge). I also broke a wooden chair over our washing machine in the garage and later on my wife told me she was terrified of me and glad that we dont keep guns. Part of the reason for the conflict was we had been out to the bar with some of her friends after an especially stressful day of trying to make an offer on a house. We've both been under a lot of stress during the entire process of buying a house and I started blaming her for making us bid too low like she wanted to sabatoge the bid and not get the house on purpose because she really wanted to live in a different place that we couldnt afford.

I'm really upset that I screwed up. I feel like if I do this just one more time, my relationship will probably be over and we will have a lot of baggage to take care of (selling the house) when we finally split. I don't trust myself that I can keep my cool. I've been making a lot of progress in therapy and trying to really get at the root causes for my anger. It seems like this is an impossible problem to make progress on. Right after an attack happens, I work on it hard, things seem to be going well, we start gradually getting into small bicker sessions and then, wham, another outburst that is slightly worst than the last. Each time it feels like everything is lost and there is no going back.

I just don't know what to do other than putting more time into solving this problem. In addition to my 1 hour of therapy a week, I'm considering spending more time on a forum like this for support in between my sessions, going to an Anger Management support group, going to regular Meditation, etc. I'm not sure how I will find time to work.

I don't know how to control the part of me that is out of control!
 

ThatLady

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Quick question for you, hon. You said you and your wife had been out to a bar before this outburst occurred. Do you find that these outbursts occur more when you have been drinking? How about caffeine or nicotine? Does use of those products have any effect on your outbursts of anger?
 

davecazz

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Yea, actually, today I decided to give up drinking until I have a handle on my other issues. I do get angry and have bad outbursts when I havent had a drink at all but it does seem like it's easier to slip into it when I've had a few drinks.

One of my root problems is anxiety, guilt, and insecurity which also get magnified the next day if I have a hangover. It just seems like a good idea to put that aside.
 

ThatLady

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That's definitely a good idea! So many people with anger issues find that the ingestion of alcohol only complicates the problem, and makes their efforts to cope a lot more difficult. If I were you, I'd stick to orange juice. ;)

Are you on any medications for the anxiety? There are a lot of medications that could help you, and I'm sure your doctor would be happy to help you find something that will enable you to make better use of your therapy.
 

davecazz

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I've thought about medication but haven't tried it yet. My current therapist works with expressive arts therapy and she wanted to try some Homeopathic options first.

I'm not sure what to expect in the way of progress though. I'm not sure when I should just go for the meds. Every week with this therapist I make progress and have break thoughs. I just don't know if I should be patient and be happy with the progress I've made so far.

Will Meds stop the Anger attacks?
 

ThatLady

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If anxiety is one of your issues, there are certainly medications that will help with that. If very high levels of anxiety are what triggers your anger outbursts, the medications could help you get control.
 

davecazz

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I'm going to talk to my therapist about it next time I see her. I really feel like I'm one bad argument away from losing everything. I think I may need to pull out the big guns now and maybe scale back later on once I make more progress in other areas.
 

ThatLady

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That's what I'd do, if I were you. If things are getting so bad that you're afraid you're going to lose everything you've worked for, this is the time to take steps to get control. If medications can help you do that, it would seem to be to be prudent to get them started. Heck, anything is worth trying if it will save your marriage, and allow you to live the life you want to live, and were meant to live, hon. :)
 

David Baxter

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I'll just add this to what ThatLady has said: The medications that are most often prescribed for anxiety these days are the same ones prescribed for depression, eating disorders, OCD, and other issues -- the SSRIs. And they are also often helpful with anger. Talk to your therapist about this. Then get a second opinion from your physician.

Frankly, a lot of times, especially in men, anger is the result of covert/masked depression or a masked anxiety disorder, as ThatLady suggests. And frankly, if it is as big a problem as you say, I have strong doubts that homeopathic remedies will be much help.
 

^^Phoenix^^

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a lot of times, especially in men, anger is the result of covert/masked depression or a masked anxiety disorder

Why especially in men? (curious - not testing you) ;)
 

ThatLady

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Darn it, Robin! I recently read an article describing the ways in which men manifest depression, as opposed to what we see in depressed women, but I can't seem to find it. I'll keep hunting!
 

David Baxter

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Robin said:
a lot of times, especially in men, anger is the result of covert/masked depression or a masked anxiety disorder
Why especially in men?
This isn't exclusively a male characteristic but the socialization of males in our society teaches young boys to hide "weak" emotions, "girl feelings", from other people, the "John Wayne syndrome", so boys aren't supposed to be worried, nervous, frightened, sad, etc., or if they feel those things they must hide them, especially from other males. Anger and aggression, however, are okay male emotions.

See my article on Raising Sons, which talks about this process.

An excellent book on the socialization of males is William Pollack's Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood. Random House, 1998. Pollack says that many boys by the time they reach puberty have become so good at hiding their other feelings from other people that they can't identify or decsribe their feelings even to themselves.

An excellent book on masked or covert depression in adult men is Terence Real's I Don't Want To Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression. Fireside Books, 1998. The book contains case histories of men who convert depression into anger, workahlism, and other "acceptable" male expressions.
 

ThatLady

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That's the resource! The article I read was discussing Mr. Real's book! Thanks, David. I'd meant to order that book, and had forgotten the name of it. Amazon, here I come! :)
 

David Baxter

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It's a remarkable book, very powerful. I was surprised at my own emotional response to it (I'm such a scientist...).
 

Nutmeg

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davecazz,

Hi, I'm a new member. I could relate to your post, as I had bad anger problems in my marriage - not as intense as yours but it was risking my marriage. I'm here to tell you that I think you can make progress, as I did, and improve the situation.

Here are some things I learned in couples therapy:

--- My spouse did things that provoked me almost instantly. If that happened, I would "go crazy" for a minute and go off on him by raging, screaming, door slamming, getting out of the car and storming off if we were driving, etc. I learned that these explosions were moments of regression to a childlike state and not my entire personality. Feeling ashamed of it, briefly, motivated me to change, but if I stayed shameful I was more prone to rage. So I had to prioritize strategies to deal with it and forgive myself as much as possible.

--- We explored what early signs in our interaction were going to trigger me and what would de-escalate the situation before I got to that point.

--- I went on anti-depressants which greatly raised my tolerance of everyday irritations. I wasn't as upset by everything. It didn't make me zoned out or a different person. I was exactly the same person, only not as prickly. And I like it!

--- I was invited to phone the therapist when I was upset with my H and tempted to rage at him. The therapist grounded me with reality checks.

--- H became aware of ways he may be provocative. Like you, the biggest trigger was when I felt abandoned. I was told that he had to protect himself and go somewhere else when I was angry. And it didn't mean he was leaving me. He agreed to verbally tell me that he was coming back when he felt safer (i.e., we both made concessions to each other).

--- We had to learn how to fight without escalating to a point of mutual rage and terror. How to stop ourselves when things were getting too emotionally reactive.

I think the main takeaway lesson I got was about de-escalating situations before it got to the point of rage. Everyone has different ways to do this. This idea had never occurred to me (and I'm pretty smart) before a therapist pointed it out! And it's mainly just common sense.

I think the anger management and any therapy/support you get will be useful because angry people feel very alone and blamed. It's not a good feeling. The more you feel accepted as you are, the better for your marriage.

I hope your wife is noticing how motivated you are and how hard you're working.

nutmeg
 

davecazz

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I want to thank everyone for the great advice. I have an appointment on Jan 2nd to talk about meds and get that rolling. I also haven't had a drink since the episode happened. The only hard part is going to dinners and parties. It's kind of boring being around a bunch of wasted people but I guess I'll have to learn how to deal in other ways.

Nutmeg... All the points you talk about really hit home. I think finding a way to not escalate the conflict is an important point. My problem is getting caught up in needing to be heard and staying in the conflict until I either get some indication that the other person has digested what I'm saying or until it ends in a blow up.

I can actually be quire reasonable in a disagreement and am able to find compromises. I just can't cut my losses and quit when the other person isn't ready to meet half way.
 

ThatLady

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Heh. I'm not a drinker, but have always enjoyed going to parties anyway. Sometimes, all those "wasted" people are a source of great amusement. ;)

Congrats on getting an appointement to get started on things that might help you cope more easily. It sounds like you have everything going for you, hon. Best wishes.
 

Nutmeg

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davecazz,

Great that you have an appointment. Please let us know how it goes. Happy Holidays!

nutmeg
 

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