What I Must Do When I’m Angry

Kellie McRae avatar

by Kellie McRae |

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Lupus sucks. Let’s just acknowledge that from the onset. I was living an awesome life, and then it came to a screeching halt. Lupus was pretty aggressive with me. Almost immediately, I felt anxiety and confusion, and eventually, anger. These are signs of depression, but I didn’t know that at the time. Now in all fairness, I was already dealing with some underlying anger anyway, so I also did not realize that lupus was making that worse. I just figured it was something I still needed to work on.

When you get a life-changing diagnosis, there are a lot of unanswered questions, and I will be honest, I don’t ask a lot of questions for which I know there will be no answers. I see that as a perfect waste of my time. Who is going to tell me why I got lupus? The question for me becomes more about how to deal, how to feel better, how to help others.

When I initially got diagnosed and shared my situation with others, I got a ton of unsolicited advice. At first, I was very cordial in accepting it and hearing people out, but lately, I notice something within me has changed — and, quite honestly, not for the better.

I am angry. I mean really angry. To the point of no-filter kind of angry. It’s not just about lupus, either. Recently, I have had a few encounters with people who have said things that I know were spoken out of sheer ignorance or because they found them to be funny. I did not find them funny, but in the past, I would have laughed it off. I would just allow foolish comments like “You’re so pretty for a black girl” to roll off me like water off a duck’s back.

Before, if people granted me permission to not do something because my lupus had flared up, I would take it as the compliment they thought they were giving. I find that I am no longer doing that. Now, I promptly let them know, “I didn’t ask, nor do I require, your permission.” I am saying exactly — exactly — what I feel in those moments, and it is really catching people off guard.

In those moments, I feel a weird sense of relief in my frankness, but social norms tell me this is not the best way to handle things. In a split second, I’ve decided that the speaker is not someone I want in my circle. I hope to never have to engage with them again, so I am basically rude.

Now, I pride myself on being self-aware and I try to correct things in my life that I know are not good for me or those around me. Is it bad to say that part of me does not want to correct this behavior? I did, however, review it so I would know why I was feeling this anger and taking it out on others. Here is what I have concluded: In each of the situations, I have felt diminished in some way. I felt the speaker was exerting control over me in a way that I didn’t appreciate.

With lupus, I already feel a loss of control over the things that were once enjoyable. I used to make swift decisions and carry them out. Now, lupus can change all the plans I’ve made by flaring mere hours before I am supposed to go do something amazing with amazing people.

Speaking my mind in that moment is my way of taking back the control that I feel others have tried to take for themselves. In the past, I would deal gingerly with these situations; now I am so blatant that people are visibly moved. The angry part of me takes a little pleasure in knowing that I made an impact. Hopefully, I also gave them some insight into what they may have said or done that was wrong.

I don’t know if I will actively try to change what I have noticed about myself, but I at least know about it and I know what motivates it. I will either embrace this new boldness or learn to tame it, along with my other symptoms of depression.


Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.


CMS Sanders avatar

CMS Sanders

My dear sweet Kelly;
Your honesty and unfiltered sharing is refreshing to those of us who have Lupus. I have found that Lupus is a lot like a death in the family. At first everyone expresses their condolences and then they want to sweep it under the rug and not talk about it again. It's as if "If I don't talk about it or think about it ; it won't touch me". It is unpleasant and uncomfortable for most people.
People understand far LESS about Lupus than they do about death.
On Netflix there is a program "BRENE' BROWN: A CALL TO COURAGE". Try it.
My Lupus is very mild in comparison to many others. I am blessed.
My husband had a terrible accident in 2014. I thank the universe that he is here EVERY day. However, after he was out of a wheelchair, off a catheter and strong again he had to face the fact that his life had changed. He was in pain EVERY day. He could no longer do ANY of the things he enjoyed without severe pain. He could not work. His brain was unable to follow a simple story line and the implied clues. So reading and watching videos or TV was difficult. He was angry. Life made him angry. He was unable to filter his reactions and felt no need to. This DID NOT improve his health. My Lupus and other related diseases became uncontrollable. I had severe flare symptoms daily: could not breathe. Too many symptoms to even list. It took 5 years for his brain to heal enough that he became the person he used to be. Only he was still in pain and unable to be as active as he liked. But he could once again feel empathy, love and kindness and be someone people WANTED to be with. The emotion and vitriol he put out there for 5 years comes back to him ten fold. When his desire for the positive was what he put out to the universe :the positive came back ten fold.
Obviously after 48 yrs of marriage :he is the love of my life. So, he had me. Our daughter and her family were committed to love him as well. Our other 3 children loved and cared but put a safe distance between themselves and him. It was painful and HARD.
Why am i sharing this?
Who do you have to love you through this?
We all need love and touch and hugs. If I was there I would not offer advice just a big hug and love.
Sometimes the only person who can relate is an on-line Lupus connection.
In my experience my self-love suffers too. it is hard to love a Lupus sufferer.....even if that person is you. I sometimes do not love myself properly.
The other part is this: it never feels good and heals to hurt others. Everyone of us carries a cross (so to speak). Some crosses are obvious ; some are heavier and some are lighter.
My goal each day is NOT to add weight to someone else's cross.
Sometimes people think I don't like to talk about my "ilness". It is not that. I DO NOT need their judgement, unsolicited advice and medical diagnosis based on their limited experience and knowledge. I only ask for support from those who are capable of giving it.
My husband never hit me in 48 years. I love him unconditionally. Now, I must try to overcome the fear of verbal anger. I still hold my breath and wince if he even sounds like he will be angry. I don't know how long it will take for that dread to go away.
We have lost friends and acquaintances. Some family members not longer visit and rarely phone.
I will send love and positive thoughts your way. Please love yourself and allow others to love you.
Hugs and love,

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Chris, this response had me in tears. Where you said the goal is not to add to the weight of another's cross. You are right and I know this. I promise I am not cruel in my responses, usually just a bit blunt and what could be perceived as rude (which isn't much better). I literally just watched Brene' Browns show last night. I watched her interview Oprah a few weeks ago and I will do my best to do a better job of tempering my mouth. I'm sorry you had to endure that at the hands of your loved one, I am actually meaner to people I won't have much interaction with (every time I add something about being rude or mean, I feel as if I'm making excuses to keep this behavior) the fact that I feel the need to do that means it really does need to stop. I will stop making excuses now. Thank you for your lovely & thought-provoking response. I am trying to find ways to deal with the anger. In another post I shared that I'd started therapy, hopefully, this will offer me some better options than my just speaking my mind without a filter. Thank you for the love, the positive thoughts and the share of what you deal with because of someone else's anger. It's always good to get another perspective, helps me to see where I can improve and not add to another's cross.

Britt Clark avatar

Britt Clark


What a great and very relatable post! I have noticed similar reactions since being diagnosed with lupus. I find myself speaking more bluntly and that I just don't have the time or patience for anything 'extra'. At the same time, I try to remind myself it takes more energy to be angry about stuff than to be happy or simply ignore the ignorance. With lupus, its a struggle to balance the little energy I have and I am slowly working on living by a saying I heard not too long ago---That not every action deserves a reaction. It's hard....really hard sometimes...but not everyone deserves the little energy I have. Thanks for shedding light on this and raising awareness for lupus and the depression that so often comes with a chronic illness diagnosis. I wish you the best in your fight and in life. Keep on warrior!

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

I gain so much insight from the comments I get here. I love the idea that even commenting is giving that situation energy. I try to guard my energy as much as possible and perhaps if I just roll my eyes and keep moving this might be better. You are right, there is a balance, I think for me, I am working on both the anger and the out of control feeling and the anger is winning. Thank you for the insight, I appreciate you for sharing your perspective.

Candace Williams avatar

Candace Williams

I have been feeling angry due to a lot of things. The lack of support I have received from so-called "friends". The number of excuses I have gotten from those who seem to have time for everybody ELSE. I can't help that most of my interaction with people has been online. I stick to mainly getting my errands done or doctor's appointments. When I do venture out, the people I encounter are going to work or talking about their work (I am retired). I also don't have any kids to keep track of. I don't go to church and when I say that to someone, I am looked at as if I have 3 heads! LOL

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Hi Candace, I wish I could say that I couldn't relate. I ended some friendships when I got back to the States last summer, many of them were decades old. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed and I kept the people in my circle who have sincerely cared for me since my diagnosis. Sometimes its as simple as just checking to see how I'm doing. I started doing a focused meditation on what I wanted in my world, in my circle and it seems that things are now moving in a more positive direction. As far as the church thing, I shared in a few of my posts that my beliefs are not traditional at all, I recently found a word that describes my beliefs, it's an Omnist. I also started my own groups with the things I wanted to embody so I would get the kinds of people around me that resonate with the direction I want to go in life. I share a little of that in my latest article: http://lupusnewstoday.com/2019/05/13/life-livelihood-entrepreneur-social-income-joy/ . Don't give up, your people are out there, you may have to put some action to finding them (which I know can be energy zapping) but what you gain is energy gaining. That anger will do more harm than good which is why I know I'm doing my best to release it. I hope you can find good people who are more supportive of what you are battling. All the best!

Angela avatar


Thank you for exploring this topic. I woke up this morning feeling so angry, which is why I did an internet search and found this article. I agree that the loss of control is probably one of the biggest reasons for our anger. I'd also like to add I think loss in general is also at the root. I've had lupus since I was twelve - I'm forty now. It's been an almost three decade long road paved with loss, and some days I wake up so angry I don't know what to do with myself.

It's tough, too, because we need to be thankful for so much, count our blessings, etc. So, we can be tempted to resist our anger, which just makes everything worse. I catch myself getting angry at other people, then realize I'm just really angry that I have to deal with this disease.

Sometimes, though, I think the anger is just misplaced energy that we haven't found a way to expend. I used to know how to release my energy, but with all the tendonitis, sprains, and strains, not to mention chronic inflammation, and a tendency for activity to stir up the disease, I have to be so careful with my body. What I wouldn't give to be able to turn on a HIIT turbo dance workout and just wear myself out! Or go climb a mountain like I used to do. Or kayak around a lake. Or all three in one day! I'll get injured if I do that now. A peaceful walk, while soothing, just isn't the same.

I don't want to negate the seriousness of depression, but I honestly think sometimes we get so busy labeling ourselves as mentally ill, we don't dig deep to figure out why we feel the way we do and what we can do to channel our energy in a way that uplifts us. It's reasonable to feel sad and angry when coping with this disease - we just have to learn to flow it through in a healthy way. Again, not negating mental illness, just questioning how we deal with the low feelings.

I have found EFT tapping, meditation, and Qigong are lifesavers when it comes to managing the emotions and the need to move energy. All three decrease stress and reduce pain. When I'm more calm, I have more energy for the things that uplift me. Journaling is also a great place for me to say all the things that are socially unacceptable. I can just get it all out. It's another great stress reducer. Sometimes I have a big rant in my journal, and then I read through it while tapping - the relief is incredible.

Thank you so much for writing about lupus. You inspire me to keep living as well as I can. It's a tough road, but we're all walking it together - you're not alone. And thank you for helping the rest of us feel less alone too.

Kellie McRae avatar

Kellie McRae

Hi Angela, I resonate with so much of what you shared! I have not tried Qigong but meditating is a big part of my life for sure. I agree with you with regard to feeling our feelings (did that make sense?) One thing I am pretty proud of it the idea that I do not want any drugs for much, my therapist is one who listens and knows a prescription is something I would shun. These feelings as you said, are natural and I know for me they are brought on by the lack of control and the things I can no longer do. I'd love to be in the kayak next to you or sliding down the backside of an active volcano (glad I got to do that that before things got really bad). I hope others will read your response and will try the solutions you mentioned. I tried the tapping, not my thing lol but I am the person who takes my emotions out in my sewing room. I get a project going and its weird, the tears come with it and when it's done, I have something beautiful and I've worked out some emotions. I tell people that I had a chat with my Brother (the brand of my sewing machine). We have to find constructive ways to deal with the mental side of this disease and because as you so eloquently pointed out, there is always something we seem to be losing the stages of grief are also a constant for us. I am glad you found ways to cope, some days are hit or miss for me but one day at a time and doing my best to count those blessings as well. Thank you for sharing.


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