The first step in any coping strategy is "acknowledgment". To acknowledge
something is in no means the same as "accept" – which is often
translated as ‘defeat’.
Rather acknowledgment is to simply state "I have Progressive MS and it is not
going to go away". The second component of acknowledgment is the
willingness to do something about it!
Acknowledgment of Anger:
Firstly, it is necessary to sort through the myriad of emotions, reactions and
bodily reactions to discover whether anger is actually at the root of
the stress or distress.
Then, it follows to try to establish or identify the causal factor or
triggers of anger – For example are you really angry at your spouse or
are you really angry at your disability? Or both to a varying degree?
Secondly – willingness to do something about it! There are many coping
strategies available to the release of anger apart from going off the
deep end at the first hapless individual in sight. They are very
similar to coping with deep grief, or loss or bereavement.
Writing a letter, keeping a journal, venting in the bah humbug forum, calling a
friend and venting. If you choose to vent in person? It might be
advantageous to let the individual know that you are angry, but not at
them, so that they are not emotionally harmed or become a part of your
anger fest J .
Banging pots and pans together, putting your face in a pillow and screaming your lungs out also helps as does having a good cry.
Forgiveness is often not immediately thought of when dealing with anger, but it is one of the most purifying or all activities.
Learning to forgive yourself is perhaps the hardest thing to do, but it is often
one of the main core issues involved with anger caused by chronic
illness. We often may harbor hidden feelings of resentment or guilt
which can cause anger, because we feel less than we wish we were.
We may feel that we have "disappointed" family, friends, ourselves because
we are not gainfully employed, fully mobile capable human beings.
It is not our fault that we have MS, and yet so often we place
unneccessary guilt, shame, frustration and anger on ourselves, because
we are not able bodied.
Forgiving others, can also be difficult. Sometimes just accepting the reality
that not everyone is nice, and you do not have to like or have other
people in your life can be a huge step.
How many people suffer from a relationship with someone that you could
cheerfully choke the person rather than cutting all ties – particularly
if the person in question is a family member?
Sometimes forgiving others begins with the realization that the other person is
doing the best he/she can with what he/she has to work with.
Once the anger has been identified, the source revealed, strategies enacted to deal with it, calming down becomes paramount.
Do whatever it is that gives you most pleasure – listen to music, play
with your dog/cat, chat with a friend read whatever gives you maximum
It may be necessary also to sit down with your partner or friend and
explain what is happening and why you were angry. Statements which
begin with "I" are far better than "you" if you are dealing with
relationship problems. You may need ‘time out" from a person to get
under control before approaching the topic. Alternatively you may
decide to sever ties, or drop the issue altogether.
Coping in Future
Picking your battles, is one step toward retaining energies, while there are
many issues which can make the "blood boil" how relevent is the battle
– what difference will it make anyway? Are questions which can guide us
to selecting which battles are worth fighting for.
Coping with anger begins by identifying the physiological response to anger
either before it starts, or as it starts rather than let it become
Additionally, knowing what our ‘trigger points’ are goes a long way to avoiding anger
before it even starts – if a behavior or conversation is a trigger
point – intervene early – change the subject, tell the person you will
not discuss this or that.
If it is a personality conflict with someone, then you can decide whether
this person warrants your time and energy. However, if it is someone
you just cannot avoid or cut from your circle, it is possible to
minimize contact or to try to look for redeeming factors, or for
explanations of why this person rubs you the wrong way.
Sometimes controlling anger is to realize that you cannot change a situation but you can change your attitude to it.
It is perfectly ok to get angry at your disability, it is not ok to hate
yourself or blame yourself for it. If you cannot complete a task
because of disability, try to work out other ways to accomplish the
same task or satisfy the desire.
Getting continuously angry about MS or disability will not give us our legs
back, or more energy, but using a mobility device will get us from
point A to point B with more energy intact.