Tag Archives: anger

Uncontrolled Anger & Stryper

anger-title-image_tcm7-187841

You lie in the graveyard,

you’re rotting away.

— B***hole Surfers, “Graveyard”

Well, my friendship with Shiela is officially over. We totally ignore each other in the halls at work now. I started it and she followed suit.

I can’t express how angry it makes me feel. I got home today and felt like going out somewhere just to physically bully someone. I want so badly to verbally abuse Shiela, maybe ask her how the wine tastes in her coffee tumbler. I’m even thinking about telling her supervisor that she drinks at work. But then I think, What can she get me on? There’s got to be something bad that she knows about me. My gosh, we were best buddies for over a year.

I’ve been extra angry and depressed at home especially. I actually hosted Sheila at my house a few weeks ago and waited on her hand and foot. I served her (frozen) vegan pizza and her favorite wine, pinot grigio. I even gave her a pillow and covered her with a blanket when she passed out on my floor.

Those days are over. And I cannot accept it.

Luckily, last Friday was the CD release date for my favorite Christian rock band Stryper. It helped somewhat listening to the words this past weekend (especially since I skipped Mass).

These lyrics from “Sorry” especially spoke to me:

Sorry

It doesn’t always make it starry

Maybe next time be more charming

so you don’t have to say sorry

I should have treated her with kid gloves at all times instead of texting her something that was “questionable” (see previous posts).

How was I to know how sensitive she was?

I pray that I’ll awake from my coma and start to enjoy life again. I pray that I can love Shiela even after what she did to me. It’s so hard but I’m trying.

~t


How Silver Linings Playbook Affected a Blogger with Mental Illness Who Didn’t Quite Know What He Was About to View

The Weinstein Company

And if you say to me tomorrow, oh what fun it all would be.
Then what’s to stop us, pretty baby. But what is and what should never be.
–Led Zeppelin

 

Lately I don’t want to write unless there’s something totally pressing on my mind.

Like now.

I started watching the first 30 minutes or so of Silver Lining Playbook. I haven’t looked into it, but it seems like it’s billed as a nice romantic comedy. Well, the first 30 minutes was enough to trigger all sorts of feelings in me. (The movie was released in 2012, so that shows how “hip” I am regarding pop culture.)

The main character, Pat (played by Bradley Cooper), is bipolar, and his father (played by Robert DeNiro, a nice surprise since I only knew Cooper was in the movie) has issues to a certain extent such as OCD and anger.

I had to stop watching after the scene where Pat was having flashbacks of assaulting his wife’s lover while the soundtrack played “What Is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin. Ironically,  Zeppelin happens to be my favorite band of all-time, and their songs and mystique have weaved themselves throughout my life since I was in middle school.

I’m not criticizing this movie (I’ve only seen the first 30 minutes); on the contrary, this post is just a half-hearted rant about wanting to see a basic romantic comedy between two people who suffer from various mental issues — and instead being subjected to scenes from my own darkest days in a theater from hell.

I’ll probably continue watching the movie now that I know what to expect — and deal with the triggers as they come. How wise is that, though? I don’t know.

Wow, I started watching during my lunch break, then I had class, and now I’m back at the desk, and it’s still with me — or maybe it’s because I’m still writing this post. However, this movie definitely hits home because Pat is so much like me — heck, the story is so much like mine.

(By the way, at the beginning of the movie, Pat is at the psychiatric hospital wearing a hooded sweatshirt with strings. Those strings would be the first things to come off when one is admitted to such a facility, along with shoe laces.)

I don’t like to write reviews. I don’t consider myself qualified to inform people about such things as movies. Books, maybe.

So consider this an anti-review.

Whatever that means.

~t

 


Positive Thinking and the Mind of Christ

One week after being ordered to attend anger management classes by my supervisor, I finally met with a counselor that was assigned to me.

On the phone, she sounded very kind, like a grandmotherly type. I was surprised that she answered her own phone. I guess her schedule was pretty open because I named a time and date, and she immediately said she’d see me then.

I wasn’t greeted by any receptionist window when I entered her office; a nice, cozy, empty living-room-type area was all I saw. I wandered around the “office” until I finally heard voices coming from a back room. Feeling more at ease, I plopped down on the fluffy sofa with plenty of mismatched pillows surrounding me.

Finally the other patient left, and the therapist, a tall, thin lady in her 60s, came to get me.

Her office, what looked like a converted bedroom, overwhelmed my senses in a good way: shelves of stuffed animals, knick-knacks everywhere, flowers and plants placed all over. I got the impression right away that she counseled lots of families and children.

Taking my seat on the comfortable sofa, I immediately noticed her main bookshelf, where The Secret was prominently featured. Hmm. She is wearing lots of bangles and stuff. I pegged her as a New Ager right away. What the hell, I thought. My school is paying for all this, and I’m allowed to miss work, so relax.

Before we started, the doctor (she has a Ph.D.) asked me what my goal for these sessions was; my school is only covering three sessions after all.

“Anger management. How to control my anger at work and be professional. Even when I don’t feel like it.”

That seemed to satisfy her.

The rest of the 45-minute session was straight out of The Secret: our positive thoughts flow into the universe, and the universe sends back positive energy and results. And vice versa.

I felt like I was trapped inside a giant infomercial for that book. The doctor went on and on, sharing testimony after testimony about how positive thinking and will power changed her life for the better. No mention of God or Jesus.

I told her I would give it a shot.

On my way home, I started thinking about the session and what I was learning. Then I realized that I could take the “normal” things, like positive thinking, and leave the universe-energy-Secret stuff.

Then a Scripture came to me like God whispering in my ear:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

And then another:

…I beat my body and make it my slave… (1 Corinthians 9:27)

This last one didn’t mention mind, but I believed it involved making every effort to be positive. Anyhow, I was on to something.  I went home and searched the Scriptures for mention of the word mind. Here are some verses that I found:

I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind… (Jeremiah 17:10)

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

And then this one:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Why hadn’t I paid attention to all this before? Well, one doesn’t seek medical attention until one is convinced of an illness. I do suffer from mental issues, but nobody (that I can recall) had ever taught convinced me that even I could take control of my mind and feed it positive thoughts.

It would take some work, like giving up some extreme metal music that I had come to enjoy and putting aside some of those dark independent films that I’m fond of.

I met with the doctor for a second time this morning and told her of my progress: I had actually seen some sort of improvement from our first session! By feeding my mind positive thoughts, I had been able to enjoy work more and get along better with my students and colleagues.

And I was overjoyed to finally discover and put into practice the idea of taking on the mind of Christ.

…But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

~t

(photo by Topaz)


How Are You Doing?

Credit: Pushead

Saint Anger ’round my neck

He never gets respect

                                                –Metallica, “St. Anger”

Recently, a friend and reader of my blog asked me how I was doing. A nice, simple email. She really does care about me, but I didn’t answer her question. Actually, I gave a pat answer to the effect of, “I’m pretty good.”

Well, I’m not pretty good. Last Friday I had yet another court date. I am supposed to be in the trial phase (the contest phase, to be precise), but the damn legal system here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. drags everything out for months and months. My case has been open for over a year — a friggin’ year! — and my lawyer is just now getting my signatures for the release of my hospital files.

My wife is on my case about pressuring my lawyer and the court system to move faster. Yeah, right. That’s like telling Obama to become pro-life or else. Ha ha.

She also keeps reminding me that the system in Japan, her homeland, isn’t as screwed up as it is here. I’m sorry, but I’d rather leave my fate to a jury instead of to a panel of three grumpy judges like they do in the Land of the Rising Yen.

Here is some more info on how I’m doing: Today I have managed to piss off everyone who works around me. It’s almost like I’ve been looking for trouble.

I took the last two days off for “personal” reasons. I will take the next two off for the same thing and then go back on Monday.

I’m doing well (?) spiritually, but you sure as heck can’t tell, can ya??!

The truth is, dear readers, is that I’m an a**hole. Plain and simple. I do fine within church boundaries and at church events, but my daily life is often different.

Blame it on my illness? Yes, but not all of it. Mostly it’s because I’m an a**hole like my dad.

Today I wanted to kill someone because the person was messing with me and with the way I do my job. I’ve had run-ins with this person before, and the individual likes to push my buttons. Why? Maybe because my buttons are easy to push.

So, my friend, to answer your question: I’m doing pretty sh*tty. Could you pray for me?

~t


In the Trenches: Teaching Students Who Don’t Seem to Care

They say not to write an email and send it if you’re angry. I think blogging is an exception; most of my posts are fueled by emotion anyway.

No matter how well I start my day — reading and studying Scripture, praying, listening to soothing music — it always seems to go downhill anyway. Today is a case in point.

I took my meds, had my morning cup of coffee, and spent about 15 minutes (all I can afford on weekday mornings) in meditation and reflection after studying a Bible passage. I’ve been wearing my Miraculous Medal recently to remind me that I’m not alone in my daily struggles. The commute went well. I listened to some songs by John Michael Talbot, one of my favorite Christian artists.

But then it was time for class.

This morning I taught developmental English. It’s the last step before students take college-level English, colloquially referred to as “freshman comp.” You would think that developmental students would be motivated by the fact that they’re essentially on their way to beginning their core curriculum studies.

Only two out of my twenty-five students had attempted the homework that was due today. It was an important assignment to help prepare them for a major essay two days from now. Seeing as nobody cared — only about half of the class bought the textbook — I told them I wasn’t going to waste my time discussing something that they weren’t prepared to discuss.

I wanted so badly to say, What are you fools doing here?! This is a community college, meaning it’s easy as hell to get accepted, easy as hell to afford, and the professors here actually care about you, unlike the big universities where you’re just another face in the huge lecture hall.

Get the hell out if you don’t want to be here! Companies always need janitors, and McDonald’s will hire anyone with a pulse. Don’t you care about your future, you idiots?!

But I didn’t say that. Rather, I told them I was very disappointed and that some of them would receive a rude awakening at the end of the semester when I post their grades.

Luckily I took a Xanax this morning along with my other meds because I’ve been struggling again with suicidal ideation. Had I not taken it, who knows where I would be right now. Maybe out of a job. Or in jail.

At the end of class, I gave back the final drafts of the students’ essays from last week. I hate doing this because it stirs up mutiny in the classroom. I can’t make it out of the class after the scheduled end time since everybody wants to know why they scored so low. Um, did it ever occur to you to learn the grammar of your mother tongue?  You expect a passing grade when your supporting paragraphs consist of three sentences each?

Here is an interesting exchange with a student after returning her essay which she had plagiarized:

Student: Hey, why did you give me a zero? (Yes, college students address us as Hey. Lovely, isn’t it?)

Me: Well, because you cut and pasted from the Internet.

Student: But, on my first draft, you told me to add more details.

Me: True. But that doesn’t mean you can steal one-quarter of your essay from WebMD.

Student: But they’re details!

Me: (flabbergasted)

On my way out of the building, I crumpled and threw away progress reports of five students who didn’t bother attending today. It didn’t matter, though. All five were full of zeros.

I found a place to sit under a staircase at the entrance of the building. Afraid that I would explode at the first person I saw, I took some time to cool down.

Sometimes desperate prayers are the most effective. I prayed like crazy not to lose my temper or to kill anyone. (I’m a devout Catholic, but I struggle daily with my illness and sinful nature.)

There is a well-known Christian song called “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus.” For me, though, it’s more like “One Minute at a Time, Sweet Jesus.”

I am now back in my office, but I don’t feel any better. I wish I had a best friend to talk to right now.

~t

(Photo by Topaz)


How I Ruined My Family’s Sunday Afternoon

I couldn’t see a thing. All I knew was that the room was about 8′ x 5′ (2.4 m x 1.5 m). I sat there with my legs folded under me with my eyes closed. My mind wasn’t working; only the heaviness of guilt and regret was with me in the darkness. This was my punishment. I had it coming. How I wish I could take back everything I did. I didn’t want to leave this pitch-black cell, though.

After being frozen in place for what seemed like hours, I curled up on the floor, using an old musty cloth as a pillow. I didn’t want to stretch out; it would have been too much of a luxury, plus my feet would have been near the door. I never expected to drift off to sleep, but it had been an emotionally draining experience.

It all happened in a flash. One moment, I was checking my email on my phone, and the next minute, the fight broke out with no warning. They were going at it with everything they had. It’s a prison fight, I thought with horror. How could it be happening? What caused it? And right under my nose? How dare they!

After the bigger one got the smaller one down and began hammering his back with right-left combinations, I snapped.

It was one thing I lived in fear of, even as a dedicated, faithful Christian. The beast inside me reared its ugly head once again and took over. I got in each boy’s face and screamed at each one. “What are you doing?! You will not fight while I’m here! You,” I said, looking at my seven-year-old. “Don’t you realize that he is only five? Why were you beating on him like that? Huh?!”

“Scott, stop. You’re getting carried away.” Ayako, my wife, tried to calmly intervene.

“Don’t interrupt! I’m in the middle of disciplining them!”

“But, you’re yelling–”

“Didn’t you see it?! It was like a prison fight!” Now I was yelling at my wife.

I don’t remember what happened next. I was in such a crazy state of mind.

I used to punish myself by striking myself in the temple, cheek, and forehead. I was doing it again. Wasn’t all that crap behind me?

I had one of those profound moments during Mass earlier in the morning when my soul cried out to God. I was in up to my neck in a certain type of sin, and I couldn’t worship the Lord like I usually did.

That’s what sin does. It makes you think that once is enough. Instead, the cycle begins. Like a drug addict trying to go straight. One little snort or injection and everything will be okay. Just one fix.

But that’s not how sin works. The devil knows that one little slip and he’s got you. The feeding of the addiction happens all over again. The cycle is torture. Even St. Paul struggled with sin: Even though his mind said no, his flesh said yes. I always seem to forget about the rest of that verse.

His answer is to turn to Christ.

God told me in the middle of Mass that I kept falling because I was legalistically trying to avoid sin. What I didn’t realize was that I was using my own power. God reminded me that I must avoid sin out of love for Him and not because of myself.

When God speaks to me, I don’t mean that He speaks audibly inside my head like I’m a schitzo. It’s more of telepathy for lack of a better term. His Spirit connects with my spirit on a deep, primal level. I don’t even have to think of a reply; my soul responds automatically.

So there I was, my heart and soul transformed and touched by the hand of God. After Mass, as everyone cleared out, I knelt down in the pew and continued praising God and thanking him profusely for His gift of faith and forgiveness through Christ. Normally I get distracted and not pray after Mass, but I was deep in communion with the Holy Spirit yesterday, and nothing could divert my attention. How wonderful it was!

So how did I go from that mountain-top experience with God to being curled up in the fetal position in this dark, cramped room? It felt like my brain was swishing around in my skull; the dull pain was making me sick to my stomach. You deserve it, Scott. Serves you right for treating your two little buddies so horribly.

My oldest son is very sensitive and gets his feelings hurt easily. He is excelling in second-grade reading and math. I am so proud of him. My youngest son is in kindergarten, and all last week he and one other student had the privilege of sitting at a special table in his classroom reserved for exceptional students. The little rascal didn’t even tell my wife or me, but that’s how he is. Very humble.

The three of us love playing soccer in the backyard after dinner. Both boys are playing in a fall soccer league now, and my youngest is the star player on his team. He gets the majority of his team’s goals each game. My two little buddies are the pride and joy of my life.

Seeing them both break down into tears as I screamed at them hit me like a sack of bricks afterward. When my rage was in full force, though, I wanted them to cry; I wanted to see their remorse and for them to fully understand how fighting would not be allowed.

I try very hard to be the best father that I can be. I love my sons more than I love myself. If they’re still hungry when we eat at home or at a restaurant, I am quick to share my food or dessert with them. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have shared with my wife. My food was mine!

I sometimes get angry with my sons for little things. Yesterday morning we had a fun day at the park. My kids love riding their bikes through a nature trail, stopping periodically to explore a creek or a wooded area that looks interesting. Yesterday, I took the photo at the top of this post It was in a wide-open field at the park. As I was trying to figure which angle of the log to photograph, my oldest son sneaked up behind me and yelled boo. He was laughing, having fun because he scared Dada. I responded by yelling at him not to scare me like that. He went away dejected.

My right shoulder and back were killing me from spending so much time on the floor in the small, dark closet. I turned over, tossed away the old cloth that was my pillow and roughed it some more. The more I was uncomfortable and in pain, the more I could atone for my behavior. In shorts and a t-shirt, the floor was feeling cold, but I was determined to keep lying there; hopefully I would catch a cold and suffer for several more days.

God, I whispered, help me. Help me in this situation. I created such a mess. Then I thought about how every action of mine, either positive or negative, affects my whole family. Just like when I was young. My father’s mood affected all of us and ruined so many happy moments. It tore me apart to see myself acting like my father who I still cannot forgive for leaving me nothing but rancid memories of my childhood.

I drifted in and out of consciousness in the darkness. Brief dreams floated through my mind. Suddenly I heard a female voice. It was soft and gentle. Perhaps it was an angel.

Scott. Scott. SCOTT.

Huh? I mumbled. Was I dreaming?

Get up. The voice sounded authoritative now.

No. I want to stay here.

Get up! The angel was yelling now. Don’t make me angry!

I was awake now, but I didn’t move. Stop yelling first.

Your sons are waiting for you to read to them!

It wasn’t an angel after all. It was Ayako, my wife. She is a tough little thing, so I knew it would be in my best interest to get up and go into the living room.

Before opening my bedroom door, I collected myself and prayed. God, you gotta help me. I let out a deep breath and opened the door.

My boys were on the sofa with their little books, waiting for me to read to them. “Dada! Come sit with us!”

They had forgiven me and were actually happy to see me. We read several books together, and then we played their favorite card game, Uno. My wife even came in from the kitchen and joined us for two games.

Later, after dinner, my sons and I went out back as usual and played soccer. A little while later, my wife came out for the very first time, and we played an aggressive but fun two-on-two match.

God had worked another miracle. Everything was back to normal, but I was still depressed and suffering from guilt.

I’m sure my family won’t forget what happened yesterday afternoon, but it was evident that they had forgiven me.

I don’t expect them to forget, though. How I wish they would.

Someday when my sons think back to their childhood, I don’t want my screw-ups to outweigh the fun times that we had.

I am still burdened by extreme guilt right now as I finish typing this. I had to take two Xanax tablets a little while ago to relieve the pain and agony inside of me. The pills didn’t quite do the trick.

I want to lock myself in a room somewhere because I am agitated despite the 2 mg of Xanax. I can’t do that, though. All I can do is rely on God, but I’m having a hard time surrendering right now.

~t

(photo by Topaz)


Growing Up with Verbal and Physical Abuse

Credit: Unprofound

During my youth, from as early as I can remember until I finished high school, my dad (I hesitate using the word father) made my life — and the rest of my family’s — a living hell.

He was angry a lot of the time. My grandfather was worse, and my great-grandfather was the devil incarnate from what I was told. The times when my dad was happy not angry were the worst because he was like a landmine field. My mother, sister and I had to tread carefully during those times; in the blink of an eye, my dad would transform into a raging monster. I would compare it to The Incredible Hulk, but at least people could see the transformation of David Banner into The Hulk and run away. With my dad, one minute we would be at the dinner table having a normal meal, and the next minute he would be screaming at my mother, berating her and, depending on his mood, slapping, hitting, or choking her.

It made for an excruciating childhood. I have a younger sister and brother, so I’m not sure if being the oldest child mattered, but I seemed to be the one who got the full brunt of my dad’s temper. I won’t go into great detail here — I wrote about a particular experience that I can post at a later time — except to say that I was verbally and physically treated the same as my mother.

The verbal abuse was constant: I was a “retard” because I wasn’t athletic (even though I excelled academically); I was a “mush mouth” because I wore orthodontic retainers for a number of years that hindered my pronunciation; I was a “worthless piece of #!$&” because, well, because I existed; and lastly, I was a “faggot” because I was shy and never had a girlfriend during my high school years.

The degrading names weren’t limited to the above four, but those were the main ones. I was told by my aunts and grandparents that, when I was a toddler, my dad would set his glass of Coca-Cola on the very edge of the living room table while he and my mom watched TV. Whenever I knocked over his glass, he would scream at me and lock me in my bedroom. It was as if he would create situations in order to pounce on me.

To this day, I can hear my dad yelling at and berating me whenever I make a mistake. When someone is approaching behind me, I have flashbacks to when my dad would sneak up behind me and give me a hard shove. And, worst of all, when my wife gets angry at me for not taking out the trash or not helping her around the house, it’s not my wife yelling at me; it’s HIM. As a result, I immediately get defensive and escalate things to full-blown arguments. My wife ends up in tears because I’m so difficult to deal with at those times.

The arguments with my wife don’t happen as much these days, but for the longest time, I really didn’t know why I was so defensive; on occasion, I would lie or pass blame on our kids — anything to get out of the hot seat. My marriage was not a marriage: It was a return to my youth, the cycle of hell repeating itself all over again. I still walk on egg shells most of the time when I’m with my wife.

It wasn’t until I was hospitalized after my suicide attempt that I learned about PTSD. I always assumed it was only related to war veterans. Little did I know that I was suffering from it.

I have to deal with PTSD in all areas of my life, even my career. I used to have a primary care physician who I quickly got rid of; I now see a PCP in the same building. As with all things, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, the first doctor was the latter two.

Soon after moving back to the U.S., I went to see if he could prescribe Xanax to me. Not only did he refuse, but he blurted out, “You have anxiety and social phobias? Why the h*** did you become a teacher?!” A valid point, but there’s no way that I’m going to pay toward his country club membership and tolerate that kind of attitude. (I would expect it from a shrink because they’re not exactly “normal.”)

Anxiety sometimes gets the best of me when I’m in front of my students. I had some horrible experiences straight out of graduate school because of my insecurity. I was hired by a university as soon as I finished school, and I wasn’t ready to be in the trenches. College students can be as bad as public school kids sometimes.

I may think that a particular student is smirking at me because I’m inept, or I might believe the whole class is masking their contempt of me because I’m not as good as previous teachers who they’ve had.

The doctors say that the verbal and physical abuse was a big cause of my various mental health issues.  I know that I can’t blame it all on my dad; that would be the easy way out. I’m sure it also has to do with my illness and with my own character. It seems like the boundary between all three of these is blurred. I have no idea what I can change and what I cannot change (Yes, I’m familiar with the Serenity Prayer).

Even though I am free of suicidal ideation and depression for the most part, that darn PTSD still rears its ugly head regularly. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never dealt with it. This week I have an appointment with my therapist, so I’ll bring it up. Maybe it can explain my abnormal marriage.

When I write a blog post, I try to end everything on a positive, spiritual note. Today, though, I find that difficult. So, I’ll just share that Serenity Prayer with you:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

~t