Anger and Chronic Illness: An Apology to My Husband

Hello! The last couple weeks have been hard and I’ve been a little radio silent. I’ve been battling a nasty infection in my foot, got a stomach virus, and the heat went out in our apartment during the polar vortex. On the other hand, the last couple of weeks have brought a lot of really amazing things: I finally know what’s going on my my stomach, I got a promotion and a raise, and my dad came to visit! For whatever reason, be it the ups and downs of the past few weeks, or the amount of pain I’ve been in, I have not been able to regulate my emotions very well. So, I want to take some time to reflect on all of the waves of emotions I’ve been feeling, and mostly to publicly apologize to my husband for taking it all out on him.

Let me paint a picture: I had been throwing up non-stop for about 36 hours, I had only slept in about 3 hour increments for 48 hours, and my pup woke us up at 7am after only being able to go to bed 3 hours earlier. I knew I needed more sleep and that I needed help because I felt like my brain was underwater and was having vertigo. But, I wanted to push through and finally have a productive day after 3 days of being sick. After taking Momo for a long off-leash play, Carlos took a nap; totally understandable, since he worked a full day on Saturday and also only got 3 hours of sleep. So, I took a long hot bath and also tried to nap.

But, I’m not a good napper. Carlos always says that in order for me to sleep I need to just fall asleep - as in, I can’t just decide to take a nap or have an early night. I have to be so tired and relaxed that I just doze off and fall asleep. So, when I was finally napping Carlos came to cuddle me and woke me up, and just burst into tears. I had felt neglected by him because I needed help while he was napping but I didn’t want to wake him up. And so I had a melt down and I said mean things to him that I really meant in the moment, but totally regretted minutes after.

I’ve always known that my “negative” emotions build up and explode, whether it’s anger, sadness, anxiety, etc. I’ve been working really hard on learning to regulate these things in therapy and I take Zoloft to help me on a biological level as well. But, I still have a tendency to just boil over and take it out on whoever is closest to me, and that’s really not the kind of person, partner, friend, or wife I want to be! So, to Carlos - I’m sorry I took my exhaustion and pain out on you this weekend - I promise I’ll work on it. I love you more than anything.

I want to be more aware in the moment of why I’m feeling a certain way and then be able to redirect my emotions into a more productive activity. I’ve noticed that I can tell myself “you’re really fired up because you haven’t slept much” - a very logical and rational thought, but my actions and feelings really don’t follow along. So, these are the things I’m going to work on in order to redirect my sometimes very firey energy:

  • Step Away: This weekend, I lost my temper and then wanted to fight. So, I fought and said mean things to my partner, but I know that if I had just told him “I need some time by myself” and had a couple of hours to cool down and rest by myself I would have been able to calm down a bit and express myself more rationally. Next time, I’ll take some time by myself.

  • Ask for Help: I’ve always been super high-strung and stubborn. Ask my friends, family, or coworkers. I like to do things my way and by myself. But sometimes, especially in situations with health, it’s important to realize that you need help and then ask for it. This weekend, I should have asked Carlos to wake up and help me, but I didn’t and I got mad at him for not reading my mind. But, how should he have known if I didn’t tell him? I’ll work on asking for help more. For me, this also means realizing that asking for help does not imply that I’m weak or not independent - it just means that I need a helping hand.

  • Keeping Active: I am certain that one of the reasons I was so on-edge this weekend, besides the fact that I was sick, was that I hadn’t really moved my body in 3 days. In this case I physically could not exercise, but in general I know that keeping my body moving keeps me happier and brings me a sense of calm. So, I’ve started getting out of bed 20 minutes early to do a short yoga flow the past couple of days, which has really helped to reduce my stress and anxiety as well as keep my emotions in check.

  • Talk to My Therapist: I am a huge advocate for talking things through with a therapist and seeing a psychiatrist if you need. I started seeing my therapist a year ago and it has been life changing. I was going through a period of extreme anxiety and depression and I was able to dig myself out of that hole by using the tools I was learning in therapy. I ultimately added on Zoloft about 4 months ago in an effort to help regulate my anxiety and my sleep patterns. While that may not be for everyone, I am so grateful for the mental health journey I am taking.