Q: I’ve been really angry and I find myself taking it out on those closest to me. I’m no longer taking steroids yet I’m still feeling out of control. What should I do?
A: Let’s face it, having to deal with being sick stirs up anger. Lupus can result in many losses and unwelcome changes, not to mention the frustration of pain, fatigue and other symptoms. Learning to deal effectively with anger is no easy task but doing so will go a long way toward improved self-esteem and healthier relationships. The first step is to identify what you are really angry about. Ask yourself how the illness has affected your life. What have you lost and how have you had to change? Review your history of dealing with anger including exploring family patterns. Do you tend to hide your anger? Are you a volcano waiting to erupt? Does your anger pre-date lupus? Learn to express anger constructively with words. This involves talking about your anger (with people who can handle it), writing about your feelings and sharing how the disease makes you mad. Explore creative outlets for your anger such as painting with angry colors like red and orange (even if you’re not an artist). Ask your family member(s) to set limits with you to firmly remind you that you’re probably not upset with them. One such statement can often help you to redirect your anger. If you continue to have difficulty, consider a support group or professional help to enhance your coping skills. Remember that you are not alone.