Hi all. Today I thought I would talk about when anger strikes in a person with bipolar disorder. There are two sides in bipolar, there’s …”disorder” and “in-order”. When the disordered person gets angry, they can become very volatile, and explode into a rage within a blink of an eye.
One personal experience when this happened in the “disorder” side, was when I was watching my 18 year old son play football. He got fouled, and my son was rolling around on the floor in pain, and the referee just stood there looking at him! Then out of nowhere the “red mist” came down, and I just exploded into a rage. I stormed onto the pitch, and screamed every swear word I could think of into the referees face.
The thoughts I had in my head actually frighten me! I wanted to hurt the ref and the player that fouled my son. When I say hurt, I mean badly hurt! I could feel my hand clenching around my keys in my pocket, I had this terrible thought that if anyone confronts me, I’m going to use this key and they may loose an eye! I know this sounds terrible, and I’m ashamed of myself of thinking about doing such an horrific act. I must of looked like a complete psychopath, as all the players and spectators including the ref just stood there looking at me in silence. The ref had to call the game off because of this! After approximately 5 minutes (but it seemed like a lifetime) I must have calmed down a bit. For that 5 minutes it felt like I had been taken over by some sort of demon, I was possessed!
Then there’s the “in-order” side of a person with bipolar. They have their condition under control, and have learned important lessons. This lesson can be applied to most of life experiences. If the person can understand bipolar, they can function pretty well in depression and mania. Then they can handle intense states of anger without losing control of the situation.
In most experiences the person can handle the anger when it’s at a very low intensity. It’s when that intensity rises to a point that’s outside their comfort zone, the “red mist” comes down. It’s at this point the person loses control. This is when they can become a danger to themselves and others if the anger becomes too intense.
Once we know each level of anger intensity, we can try to control the anger. These 3 levels are an important lesson to learn. The intensity that’s within their high functioning zone, the intensity just outside their functioning zone, and the intensity that’s to far outside their comfort zone. How angry can the person be, before the anger starts choosing it for them?
Learning these 3 anger intensities requires 2 important factors: being aware of the intensity their anger is, and how to function during it. Once we have an understanding of it, we can then work on functionality, comfort, and the reason for being angry.
Now we know the differences of intensities, we can notice how our breathing, posture, emotions change. We also need to be very aware of the signs that the intensity is escalating into unsafe territory. Having the right understanding is crucial. Once we’ve learned and understand the anger, and what’s triggered it in the first place, we can try to use this to our advantage. We can learn how to lower the intensity when it starts to rise above our comfort zone. Understanding when to walk away from an argument, is as important as when to argue.
When we argue, the anger give us the ability to come up with the most horrible things to say or do. We are in disorder, when this happens. But it also gives us the ability to come up with the best things to say, to help us achieve our goal. There are many other positive things when we’re angry, we become more aware focused, motivated etc.
So now we know how to control the anger, we can use it to our advantage. We can use this to achieve our goals. We now become highly functional while angry. We become more comfortable with the level of intensity of anger.
It gets really interesting when we look at the relationship between how much people value their experiences and how well they understand and function during them. Those who value the experiences and search for meaning, function far better than those who only look for an answer to make the experiences go away.
I’m still trying to learn how to use all the above, but I’m a lot better since I’ve been trying to apply this strategy in certain situations. I hope this helps some of you understand the anger that gets unleashed in bipolar, and maybe it might help you if you find yourself in that situation when the “red mist” comes down. Like Bruce Banner said in “The Incredible Hulk”…Don’t make me angry, you won’t like me when I’m angry 😊👍