Look Out: It’s the Angry RA Monster!!

Whether we realize it or not, anger is a huge component of rheumatoid arthritis. It’s important to recognize this aspect of our disease process.

Up that river in Egypt

You know the one I’m talking about. De Nile! Denial of our anger is a coping mechanism at first. We are so overwhelmed, we go into shock. Then we go into the “how do I deal with this” mode. While we are busy learning, anger tries to emerge. We are so busy with treatments, lab work, doctor visits, and explanations to work and friends. So we decide we just don’t have time to deal with anger and we suppress it with plans to deal with it later. But we never come back to it until. . .

Anger caused by dealing with RA

BOOM!!!Yep, we explode all over those closest to us. And the anger takes over. At this point, we appear as a monster that no one can understand. These episodes are so out of the ordinary that we pause and deal with the anger and it gets better. But what about the anger that sneaks its way in and we don’t recognize it?

Anger like a sneaky snake

This anger is insidious. It lurks under the surface. We wonder why traffic is so awful and people are crazy! We begin to find fault in everything and it seems nothing is going right. Why is this happening? Anger that is not dealt with appropriately becomes an ulcer that digs a hole in every aspect of life.

Under attack

Recently, I was attacked by the sneaky snake. Due to a crisis in our family, I was seething with anger towards a former spouse who is no longer alive. I walked more, I punched the air, and I seethed. Thanks to the wise counsel of a pastor who spent years as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I was able to let go.

Different ways to cope with anger

There are several good strategies for coping with anger. One or more of these may resonate with you. The purpose is to get the anger out of your heart.

One way is to punch a pillow while visioning the anger.

Another way is to scream into a pillow until you are exhausted.

Neither of these resonated with me. A third way is to journal your anger.

Writing to get the anger out

I must admit, I am not a journal-keeping person. However, I thought perhaps writing it down would help. For some of us, this is difficult because of hand pain. But it is in the physical act of writing that the anger is transferred from the heart to the paper.

I was surprised by how angry I was

So I sat down and began to write. Five and a half pages later, I stopped! My pen flew over the pages without much thought. Around page five, the RA anger emerged. I was stunned! I didn’t realize it was there. I knew I was disappointed with how RA had changed my life, but the anger surprised me.

Then I realized that it was now out of my heart. I closed the pages of the journal. It is important that you do not go back and read them because then the words and emotions re-enter your heart.

Finding peace while coping with anger

I am much more at peace now. While I know that anger will pop up again, I now have skills that will help. This is not a cure-all, but it does help. I am also exhausted! Coping with anger saps energy, and letting go of it does as well. And then, you can care for yourself and be yourself instead of the angry RA monster.

What coping mechanisms do you use for anger? Please share!

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