When I was growing up I remember being told off for being angry, easily triggered and quickly overwhelmed, and none of these comments were exaggerations. However, I can also say that it wasn’t wrong of me to be so angry, and it definitely wasn’t wrong of me to express it. My emotions always felt like an already full vase, and any blow I got would immediately make that vase overflow. I rarely had the opportunity to resolve a problem before another challenge breathed down my neck and it just felt like the word patience was never a part of my vocabulary.
As hard as it was to handle from the outside, it felt like ever vein in my body was exploding at once and I would lose control of all my emotions instantly. And that’s what changes with time… Because I am still just as angry, frustrated and hurt now as I was back then, I am just a little more mature today and I know how to use it. I know where to direct it. I know when I need it and I also know when it is just hurting me instead. That’s the peace I found, and it feels pretty good.
let’s take a step back from the whole medicine thing…
I learned frustration was important when I was 14 and landed my first triple pirouette with tears on my cheeks. I was mid teen trauma and was feeling hurt over a boy, but nonetheless, I had shown up to my dance class despite feeling very sensitive. I was shamelessly gossiping with my friend mid-diagonals when my teacher yelled at me to concentrate. It shook me, aggravated me, and the vase overflowed. It just felt like too much and when I tried my second pirouette I landed a triple, and then I did it again.
When I stopped pirouetting, I had a little giggle and two medium-sized sobs. I had gotten a release of emotions and an ego boost. I went from being sad to feeling so proud. The frustration had turned into power. One emotion had fed the other.
And that is the day I realised that saying anger and negativity rotted the soul was simply a form of propaganda to make compliance more appealing.
Being positive has always been the golden mindset that practitioners and nurses sold patients. And I understand the importance of hoping for the best and not visualising the worst-case scenario, but over time, that inevitably creates pressure to always stay positive when confronted with medical bad news. At some point, however, the pressure just comes across as heartless.
The erasure of anger and frustration in patients is so much more common than what doctors will admit. Fear in patients is, more often than not, discredited before it is even listened too… “Oh my god, how are you still scared of needles? You’ve been doing this your whole life”… Or the even better belittling comments… “I know this does not hurt, stop being dramatic”… I’ve stood up to nurses and doctors for being rude and insensitive, and even accused some of suffering from such an inflated ego that they considered good bedside manners a passing suggestion. Or coddling as they would rather justify it. And when I stood up to those doctors, it allowed me to find other physicians that treated me with more individuality. In the end, it benefitted me.
I am happy that I was as angry as I was, because the first decade of my life made me feel powerless and the second decade was me desperately trying to find a normal within the currents of the illness. And being angry meant that I never once gave up. And I never allowed one low point to define my future. It was a Battle Royale I was fighting with my own body and it made me unhealthily competitive. Because it was never a death sentence to me, it was just something in the way. I would knock it back over and over again, and when it got back in my way, I would push back once more. A game of ping pong. A blow never felt like the end. And that was because of the rage.
I never accepted that it was the end.
So, why does being angry socially insinuate that you are giving up?
Has no one considered that maybe for some, being angry and going into a challenge with a fuck you mentality might just be best?
How could you not be angry if you repeatedly get interrupted mid-life? To me, the highs and the lows allowed me to have a rhythm of moments where I focused on CF and other moments where I focused on living and laughing. It also takes the pressure off because it allows for a break in a world where you are born sick and will be sick until the end. Having to put those amazing moments on hold is hard but it motivates you to get back to the fun that fuels you.
We have one advantage of being sick by birth; we know what a good day is and we know how to recognise it the second it happens. Being able to recognise and cherish those good days is so important because it reminds us what it is we are still fighting for. And what is worth getting angry over.
Having any type of passion in life is essential to making you want to live it, no?
My mother had to come to my defence once when a family member criticised me for being too mouthy and too sassy. Which, again, is completely true. I didn’t feel like I owed anything to anyone. Maybe that’s just the effect of thinking you’re not going to be around for long. Who knows.
My mother’s only rebuttal was that I needed that bad attitude to get through the life I had.
Because it’s easy to say someone has a bad attitude and just infantilise a person’s fight, but it’s hard to come face to face with a strong character and not feel challenged by it. I am not claiming my anger was never out of line or misdirected. There were many moments when I would say really nasty things because of how uncontrollably angry I got. There was definitely a learning curve within my own rage, and it definitely got me in a lot of trouble as a teen. But what I never forced myself to do was to forget and leave the anger behind. For two reasons; the first, I genuinely cannot imagine a world where I suffer with CF and am fine with it, and two, it gave me fire, it gave me an edge that got me out of some pretty bad luck. It gave me something to believe in within myself. It was an emotion that actually pulled me out of bed because I wanted to prove my prognosis wrong.
The point is, there shouldn’t be a policing of emotions when it comes to defeating your own personal dragons. If you have a coping mechanism that works, keep it and thrive in it. You’ve got enough on your shoulders to not have to apologies for how you survived trauma.
And if the weapon you choose is anger and rejecting the defeat mentally before anything else, then so be it.
you will be ferocious
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
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