How “Anger Turned Inward” Cost Me

1994 Fragile October essay0001

In October 1993 I couldn’t stuff my dark feelings inside any longer.  My deep down place, the one where I had crammed my feelings, overflowed that fall.  Pieces flew out everywhere with labels like Anxiety, Pressure, Loneliness, Anger, Mistrust, Frustration, and Deep Hurt.  I couldn’t stuff them back in no matter how hard I tried.

I tried to cover my hurts up with blankets of sleep and overeating.  Those blankets did no good—the feelings still festered underneath.  They turned into self-loathing, and I began to entertain self-destructive thoughts.  I didn’t know how to cope with my problems on my own, and the situation soon turned dangerous, as I will describe in the next few posts.

My depression was an inevitable storm that had been stirring for years as a child of divorce.  My friend’s departure was the final straw, the one that spilled the decade-old contents of my dark heart.  My depression was less about her leaving and more about my unresolved feelings toward my parents’ divorce.  Those feelings were coming to light for the first time and could no longer be ignored.

In Happiness is a Choice, Paul Meier and Frank Minirth write:

Whenever we suffer a significant loss of any kind…we feel some anger, whether we are aware of it or not.  If that anger is repressed, it will lead to depression.  In other words, a significant loss can result in a depression if we handle our anger irresponsibly by not dealing with it.

They describe depression as “anger turned inward”, stating:

Children often become depressed after their parents divorce…When the anger they feel toward their parents because of the divorce is talked out and the parents are forgiven (whether they deserve forgiveness or not), the children improve.

At that time I did not feel free to discuss my true feelings with my parents, out of fear of further loss of love.  I was not comfortable with the idea of talking to a counselor, because there was a negative social stigma attached to fellow teens who had received counseling.  I didn’t have any other friends who I trusted enough with my dark feelings.  I suffered alone, not knowing who or how to ask for help.

Journaling provided some relief, which eased some of the stress of holding those dark feelings inside.  I’m thankful to have had that outlet for my pain.  I’m also thankful that God watched over me in those dark days and in darker days to come.  I’m thankful no other days have been so dark since.

Reflection

Do you define depression as “anger turned inward?”  If you have dealt with depression, how was anger involved?

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