Irritability - One More Time from the Other Side

Sue Bergeson Health Guide
  • The other day, I got blasted by a consumer who read me a litany of things DBSA had done wrong over the past four years. Four years is a looooong time to hold onto anger for some real or imagined slight. However, I suspect it isn't all that unusual for those of us living with mood disorders. I did what I could to investigate this person's concerns and outline what I understand to have happened in each instance. I apologized where I could. None of this made any difference.


    It's one of the more unpleasant things about our illnesses: irritability is a major issue. In fact, in one of DBSA's surveys, it was irritability-not mania, not suicidal thinking, not sleep-that people said was the symptom that caused them the most difficulty. It does affect everything. It affects our ability to get and keep a job ... our ability to find and retain friends or relationships with our family ... our ability to do the most simplistic task.

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    But we don't talk about it much. I wonder why that is ... ? We talk about deadness and hopelessness. We talk about sleep and eating. We talk about alcohol use and sexual promiscuity. But we don't seem to talk about irritability.


    One of the things I practice in therapy a lot is identifying what I feel and how to respond, so that things don't build up and I don't all of a sudden dump four years' worth of annoyance in one phone call or e-mail (as my friend, mentioned earlier, did). But it's hard, and it's a discipline that I really struggle with. What am I feeling? Half the time, I don't even know or don't allow whatever it is to make itself known. Journaling helps. Mood tracking helps too. The more I am in touch with my own feelings-at the moment in time where any action occurs-the more I‘m able to respond and the more I'm able to maintain a healthy control over my own life.


    Does anyone else struggle in this way?

Published On: August 01, 2007