Breaking Things When I’m Angry

13 December, 2016
Q I have trouble controlling myself when I’m angry. I can’t communicate very effectively while talking. Breaking crockery usually calms me down. After an outburst, I cry a lot. But after that I have trouble even remembering what made me so angry. Or what words exactly triggered it. I have a severe headache and I sleep it off. Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep too. I have frequent mood swings. I hardly talk to people. It irritates me if someone tries to talk to me when I’m in this mood. Other people’s habits annoy me. Any kind of sound irritates me when I’m in this mood. I’m very selective. I’m very cynical. I either believe people too much or don’t believe them at all. I am so critical which makes most of my relationships temporary. When I get angry, I have headaches, nausea; my eyes hurt. My parents stayed together because of me and usually my mother blames me for all of her problems. I feel very guilty and hurt. I have been trying to please them all my life. But nothing ever makes them happy. I’m normally quite content in my own bubble, talking to myself, talking to imaginary friends. I am used to staying by myself. I take up hobbies to busy myself and never get bored. I don’t socialize much because my parents won’t let me, but I do love making friends. I really don’t know how to handle myself. I don’t wish to hurt anybody with my words, but I end up doing the same. Pease help.

Answer

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing with your most important issues.  I am sorry to hear you are going through emotion ups and downs. It must be very hard living that way. May Allah (swt) grant ease.

It sounds as if you are having mood swings along with anger control issues. In sha’ Allah, I would kindly suggest that when you feel yourself getting angry, count to ten, find a quiet area to sit, and please write down what has made you angry, what emotions you are feeling as well as what alternative relief you can find rather than throwing crockery.  This will be hard, sister, as it sounds like a pattern/habit you have developed which it provides you with relief. However, if you can unlearn this behavior and replace it with something positive such as exercise, deep breathing techniques, dhzikr, journaling, or other healthy substitutes, you will feel much better, In sha’ Allah.

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The fact that you often cry, get a headache, can’t remember what made you angry and sleep afterwards may be a result of the high intensity of your anger levels (which affects your physical responses) or it may be part of cluster reactions due to an anxiety or a mood disorder. You also stated that “When I get angry, I have headaches, nausea; my eyes hurt”.  This could either be migraines you are experiencing or anxiety. Please, see your physician to determine if you do indeed suffer from migraines, high blood pressure, or some other physical issue. While I am confident that you are physically fine, please do get it checked out.

When you are having problems falling asleep, try progressive muscle relaxation. It is a technique that will relax all the muscles in your body and help calm your mind as you are focusing on the technique. Please do an internet search for the instructions. It is quite easy and will bring you much relief in many situations wherein you are tense, irritable, or feeling angry or restless.

Sister, you have disclosed the fact that you suffer from mood swings, uncontrollable anger, and feel cynical, irritable; you do not like sound (during these episodes) and you prefer time alone with “imaginary friends”. These symptoms lead me to wonder if you are suffering from some type of mood disorder such as bipolar or some other mental health issue such as severe anxiety and or depression. I cannot diagnose you, my dear sister; I can only suggest that you seek out a mental health therapist in your area to assess what is truly going on and what therapy if any, would be best suited.

Millions of people have undiagnosed mental health disorders and sadly suffer much of their lives because they do not seek help. This can be due to lack of services, stigma, or any other reason. However, if we had diabetes, we would take insulin. If we had high blood pressure, we would take medication to reduce it or make the necessary lifestyle changes if we were overweight. It is the same when something does not feel right with our mental health. The mind and body function as one entity. We must take care of both, in sha’ Allah.

I would kindly suggest that you also try to make friends despite your parents not wanting you to. While I am not telling you to go against your parents, I am saying that everyone needs good friends. We all need positive connections in our lives that can help us grow. We need friends to do fun things socially, to be there for each other, and hopefully develop lifelong friendships. I cannot imagine them not wanting you to have good Muslim sisters to enjoy things with.

You stated that your mom blames you for her problems; that you can never seem to make them happy though you try. Sister, you are not to blame for your parent’s problems or decisions. It is theirs alone – not yours. You are free from fault. Just keep being kind to them, sister, but focus on making yourself happy now, in sha’ Allah.

I would suggest that you seek out Muslim groups at your school or Masjid and join some social groups. While I am not sure where you are located, in my area the Muslim sisters’ groups go hiking, go out for dinner, to movies, do charity work, study Qur’an, go shopping and other fun things. I have made some life long, loving relationships and thank Allah (swt) for these opportunities.

Starting to socialize for small amounts of time and building up will also increase your social skills as well as your confidence. In time, you will form nice relationships with a few sisters who will become close, lifelong friends, in sha’ Allah. However, you must put forth the effort into healing, getting treatment, and reaching out. To have friends is to be a friend.

While it may feel awkward or frightening at first, please, make an attempt. Go out for brief periods of time, maybe for tea or lunch, and as you get more comfortable with being around others, increase the time you spend socializing. If you become cynical or feel critical while you are out socializing, try to stop those thought processes by immediately doing silent dhzikr or turning your thoughts to something positive. Again, this will take some effort and determination on your part, but research has shown if you consistently do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. So, the goal is to replace a negative thought/behavior with a positive one – consistently.

Lastly, dear sister, draw close to Allah (swt). Pray. Recite Qur’an. Do dhzikr, make du’aa’.  These acts of worship make a difference and provide many blessings. In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says,

“O Mankind: There has come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (disease) in your hearts – and for those who believe a guidance and mercy!” (10:57)

We wish you the best. You are in our prayers.

Salam,

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.