Angry at Bipolar: Dealing with the Anger of Mental Illness

Also known as: I’m Mad at the Jungle

People don’t like it when I get angry. They don’t like it when I rant. On my very own blog. On the internet. Sheesh people, I am human you know.

And I’m not an angry kind of person. I have a theory about why you shouldn’t be angry and I try to use the idea that there is no reason to be angry, and allow anger to roll off my back. It usually works. [push]One might suggest it would be absolutely nutty not to rant. Pixels, it seems, breed ire.[/push]

But I think all sick people have a right to be angry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a good idea to live in that anger. It’s not a good idea to spread that anger. But for fuck’s sake, you’ve been given a life-long mental illness that requires too many doctors and debilitating psychiatric medication. You have the right to be a little angry about that.

I’m Angry at My Brain

But there is a problem with being mad at bipolar – there’s really no one to yell at. It’s really hard to yell at your brain. It never seems to work. It morphs into yelling at yourself; which isn’t the point at all.

I’m Mad at the Jungle

A couple of weeks ago I was fairly catatonic with depression. And so, not moving, I watched many of the shows on my PVR; one of which is called Off the Map. There was the following scene:

A woman comes upon a girl angrily cutting her way through the jungle with a machete. The woman asks her if she’s angry. The girl says yes, she’s angry at the jungle.

The girl is sleeping with a beautiful man whose wife is in a coma. He feels ever-so-guilty about seeing anyone else even though his wife’s condition hasn’t changed in four years. He told the girl when they started seeing each other it would always be casual and he would never commit. But the girl, naturally, fell in love with him anyway.

So the girl, hacking away with the machete, says she can’t be mad at the man for being withholding, because he always said he would be, she can’t be mad at the wife, as she’s in a coma; so, she’s mad at the jungle.

Angry at Bipolar: Mad at the jungle

See, I’m mad at the jungle.

I’m Angry at My Life with Crazy

There is no point in being mad at bipolar, depression, hypomania or crazy: they’re not going anywhere. There’s no point in being angry with medications and nasty side effects as they are what they are. There’s no point in being angry with “evil” doctors because they’re doing the best they can. And there’s no point at being mad at the effects crazy has on my life as that’s not going anywhere either.

So I’m mad at the jungle.

(Granted, there’s no jungle around these parts and I don’t own a machete, but I love the phrase.)

I’m Angry at Stones on the Beach

A typical therapy suggestion is to go to the beach, envision a stone as whatever you’re angry with, or your anger in general, and throw the stone into the water as far as you can.[1]

Arg. Therapy annoyance.

I have tried this, and many similar things over the years but it doesn’t make anything change at all. Not a thing. Ever. I suspect that’s because there’s always new pain with bipolar disorder. Bipolar never passes. Mood disorders just kind of hang around fucking up your life.

I’m Mad at the Jungle

So, as I understand there is no real cause or cure for my anger, I try to just let it be. I feel strongly that the anger deserves acknowledgment. Then I let it go. I say “hi” now and then, and wave goodbye.

But I’m mad at the jungle will be my new catchphrase. Because fuck it if I don’t just feel that way sometimes.[2] And I think that’s reasonable.

[1] To be fair, I have found some success with this and similar methods on other issues. Latent anger from things like abuse. Those things are just different because they’re in the past. They’re not coming back to clobber me in the skull.
[2] Just an FYI. It’s actually the case that I just increased a medication and that’s causing most of the anger. But somehow, it feels just as real as any other kind.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.


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