I like to think of myself as on overall happy person. Usually bubbly, often excited, always ready to laugh, but… There’s a dark side. Often triggered for reasons unknown. Don’t we all have a dark side though? (Come on, make me feel better here). How do we deal with mood swings? My family calls it a French temper, my friends call it feisty, I call it what it is… temperamental, and a bad habit. When I get like this, it is unbearable for myself and those around me. Sometimes it happens because I missed lunch and sometimes you just breathe the wrong way.
What starts out as my boyfriend joking around and making me laugh can quickly morph into him as a kid with a kazoo, and I want him out of my face STAT. These feelings have caused reactions I’m almost embarrassed to admit. In my moments of rage I transform into the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, flying down the stairs as quickly as possible to the sound of a slight mutter under his breath, to growl “what did you say?” In this moment he freezes. He later tells me he hoped if he stayed completely still I wouldn’t be able to see him.
I transform into Donkey Kong, throwing a wooden dog gate to tumble down the stairs and crash into the wall. This is my favorite hat trick and I know if I had ten gates I’d throw them all and then eat a banana. I transform into a scream queen and I just start random bursts of screaming. I think of what I’ll tell the neighbors if they ever asked, “Oh sorry I’m trying out for a role in a remake of psycho.” “Oh sorry I have fuckin turrets.” *answers door, random scream* “k byeeee”.
All I know is I need to get a grip. All the comedic value I get from it doesn’t excuse the ugliness of the action or the stress I cause myself and everyone else. I went back in my mind to what I’ve learned over the years about dealing with stress and anxiety and considered if they could be applied in my day-to-day life to avoid the blowouts. Below are the tools I try to implement to control my gross temper.
1. Love songs. I play a CD labeled Vomit Songs 1 when I feel rage coming on. For the weeks where I’ve had to listen to it a lot, I created Vomit Songs volume 2 to mix it up.
2. Closing my mouth. When I keep my mouth physically closed it keeps me from blurting things out. I keep my mouth closed and try to actually think of what I want to say and how I want to behave.
3. Zone Out. When I feel like I might erupt I detach my brain and I start counting fuckin sheep and shit in my mind. It really works to go somewhere else mentally when you feel like you can’t appropriately handle a conversation.
4. I put myself in time out. Sometimes I know that I just need to be left alone for a while. I try to recognize when I need space and accommodate it before it’s too late.
5. I listen to the Buddha. I have a PBS documentary on the Buddha that I watch whenever I get too overwhelmed, which is often. The ideas of peace and acceptance help me to start the next day calm instead of starting it too wired where I will surely lose my shit.
6. I talk to my dogs. My dogs know everything about life and once in a while I just have to ask them their opinion on something that is driving me crazy. They remind me of what is important, and my worries dissipate.
7. I star-gaze. One of the best things I do is drown myself in astronomy. I love cosmos. I love the idea of an endless universe. When thinking about astronomy, my big problems suddenly become very, very small. Our earth, our existence, our problems are not as big as they feel.
8. I imagine myself without. In the moment I’m angry with someone, I imagine myself without that someone. Doing this quickly checks my more erratic behavior and suddenly, they’re not so aggravating. Okay you’re just breathing, I’ll give it another shot.
It’s important to speak up when necessary but also important to do it in the right manner. It’s okay and even good to be passionate about things. Arguments will arise over things we are passionate about, annoyance will come from those we spend our time with most, and intolerance will present itself in interactions beyond our control. It’s imperative to learn coping skills to control your temper in situations like these, otherwise, you’ll find yourself by yourself screaming in the mirror and eating a banana.
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