I have been experiencing a lot of anger these past few weeks. More anger than I ever remember experiencing and I don't know what to do about it. It's not necessarily yelling and screaming anger, it's more like an unfamiliar side of anxiety and excessive internal criticism.
As a child, I developed a belief that angry people were bad people. Typically if my parents were angry with me then I would be punished and I knew I was in trouble. This resulted in my unhealthy people pleasing behaviors and a plastered on fake happy face. Regardless of how much I hated conforming and acting a certain way to fit in, it still beat having others become angry with me.
I also feared allowing others to see me get angry because then they would think I was a horrible person. Rather than finding outlets for my anger, all of those emotions were internalized leading me to bottle up and run from those uncomfortable feelings. This also explains why I am incredibly hard on myself; all of that pent up anger was not allowed to be expressed towards others, so I made myself believe everything was my fault.
When the constant negative self-talk became too much to handle, I did everything I could to numb out and avoid those emotions... Hello, eating disorder. When the body and brain are in a state of starvation, it is nearly impossible to focus on anything except food, which was a temporary escape from my anger.
It's been over a year since I left treatment and began working on the underlying issues involved in my eating disorder, but the anger is just now starting to surface and I don't like it. I'm angry at everything and everyone. Experiencing years of repressed anger has left me feeling edgy and apprehensive. My thoughts are racing more than ever, I can't concentrate, and I feel like a crazy person 98% of the time.
Last week a friend of mine suggested I start writing in those moments of intense anger, so I gave it a shot. As I began writing, I found it easier to write letters to specific situations or people in my past. Obviously I would never share these letters or actually send them, but I did find they helped me sort out my emotions. In addition to writing, I have read deep breathing, counting to ten, a good night's rest, exercise, and identifying anger triggers can all help cope in a healthy way.
That's the thing about recovering from an eating disorder - in order to continue progressing, I've learned I need to sit with and feel those uncomfortable emotions even though it's easier not to. Interestingly, I found after a few months of treatment, I began feeling the grief associated with a breakup in my life that had happened two years previously. Again, rather than actually going through the sadness, anger, and loneliness that comes with a breakup, I just numbed it out because in the moment that was better than feeling those things.
Anger is an emotion that I have never really allowed myself to experience. Learning to cope with this emotion in a healthy way will be a challenge, but I think this whole crazy-person stage is the first step. I never realized just how numb I had become to the world around me until recently. Although finally experiencing this ugly emotion has been irritating, it sure beats living in a lifeless, numb eating disordered world.