Photo Credit: Eric Gevaert
Today gave me a lesson in the value of anger. Yes, I’ve heard it all: anger bad – positive feelings good. Fine. Too much anger, and I’d better manage it or I’ll be out of a job, family, the whole works. Right. But there are times when the purely valid human feeling of anger can save me.
That’s what happened today. I’ve been moving along at a nice clip for the past week, getting a lot done, full of a sense of well-being, as if (dare I think it) I might be done with depression and all the life saboteurs that keep it company. Then today, I’m sitting in my office, and – wham – I know I’ve got to get out of there. I just have to pack up and leave. Now!
Some force is pushing through from within, like one of those wet toothy jack-in-the-box aliens that like to pop out of normal-seeming bodies in the movies. Come to think of it, that’s one way to imagine the big D, Depression, stirring around in there, getting ready to emerge, to blow apart my mere host personality, to trot around as a substitute me. Is Mr. Big D getting ready to emerge?
That’s motive enough to move. The voltage of fear keeps building. As that nervous pressure increases, my mind suddenly empties itself out. One minute I’m buzzing with ideas of what I have to do, and then, poof! Nothing. I look around to see where those thoughts have gone – where are my mental lists! I’m dead without my lists! I try to seize a new thought – but as soon as I get one into that neuro-flow, it’s gone. Those thoughts know something I don’t. I’d better get out of there too! Perhaps I can step out of this troubled mind, go somewhere else and try a new one on for size.
I have to focus, though, even to move. I can’t think – so work is out of the question – and I know I have to get out of this 12 X 12 room box. And that’s all I know. I grab what I can, step out of my office, get past the poor guy in the hall who has been waiting to talk to me about a problem, apologize in mid-flight for suddenly having to leave, reach for that handle, push, out, open air. Where’s the car? Got it. Get in and drive on auto pilot straight home, maybe fifteen minutes away at 1;30 pm. Thank God there are still times of day when you can move in a hurry on the freeway.
Then I’m home, fear now spreading out and settling in, and the bottom drops right out of me. I’m only the host of the depression beast, after all. That body-like substructure holding me up during the day, feeling so solid and secure – now it’s a burst and bloody mess. Gone! Big D is walking around in my place, and I’m somewhere else, sinking away, as a towering wave of bleakness hits and washes over me, catching me up in currents, pulling me out deeper, inviting me to drown. For a while that’s how I feel, sunken, sodden, weighted with water-heavy clothing, sad beyond belief that everything exciting has all at once vanished. There’s grief in this water, and misery – oh hell, who cares what it is? I can’t care about anything anymore.
And then it hits. Good old anger! Truly, I just can’t take it any more. So much of my life has been lost to this mess, I can’t let go of another minute without a kicking screaming fight. STOP. NOW. Suddenly, I’ve taken back that body, I can stand on solid ground, I can feel strength returning – I can feel. I am in this corner, I have no where left to run and I am throwing myself right back at Big D. And with my strengthening arms I shove that mass of deadness right out the window – or into some sort of mixed metaphorical hell. (After all, the drop from a ground floor window isn’t all that serious.) At least I can lift my brain up in self-respecting anger if not exactly in the fullness of living, and I can stomp to my computer, sit right down here – and … write! Now that may not seem all that heroic – in fact, it may seem downright anticlimactic. But that’s what I do! At least, I can get down a few words, my mind starts to wake up, energy and buzz return.
What is anger after all but the rebellion of your deepest being against a threat to its survival? Thanks to anger, I’m coming back! At least, today.