Anger

It's normal to feel angry about having fibromyalgia. After all, you did nothing to bring on this condition. In fact, you may have even been the pillar of good health, someone who didn't smoke or drink, ate well, and exercised regularly.

Now that you've been diagnosed with a chronic disease that causes immense pain and fatigue, you're furious and possibly asking, “Why me?” You're angry that doctors ignore you, that friends don't believe you, and that doing anything takes enormous effort. Compounding your rage is the unpredictability of fibromyalgia, making it hard for you to plan anything.

Getting over your anger isn't easy and may take time. But not getting rid of it can take a toll on your health. Anger can worsen your sleep, exacerbate your pain, and interfere with your ability to take care of yourself. It also saps your already compromised energy levels.

That's why it's important to acknowledge your anger, use it to motivate you to make positive change, express it in positive ways, and then move on. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Get to the root of your anger. Are you mad because you can't do all the things you used to do? That you're overwhelmed with fatigue? That you feel helpless? Identify the cause of your anger, and try to work on that.

  • Talk it out. Whether it's a close friend or a professional counselor, venting your anger can help reduce it. Your friend or counselor may be able to see your situation from a different perspective and help you overcome your anger.

  • Get real. Rather than dwell on what you used to do, create new expectations of yourself. By keeping your expectations realistic and attainable, you'll build your sense of competence and rein in frustration.

  • Channel your anger into action. Rather than devoting too much energy to feeling mad, try putting that energy toward positive action. Fed up that you can't cook the way you used to? Think of it as a challenge to find simpler recipes.

  • Beware the dark side of anger. If not expressed constructively, anger can come out as irritability toward your family, friends, and colleagues. This can cost you valued, supportive relationships. So when you do express anger, do so constructively, not destructively.

Experts have long suspected a link between anger and depression and heart disease, but these emotions may actually spur biological changes in the body. A study published in 2004 found that people who were angry and had more severe depressive symptoms — separately and in combination with hostility — had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a substance in the body released in response to stress and infection that has been linked to heart disease.

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