By Mark Loewen
LGBTQ people are pretty resilient. Even as Virginia becomes a “purple” state with marriage equality and all, being LGBTQ still means you at least face micro-aggressions regularly. Growing up lesbian, gay, bi or trans has most likely thrown a few “lemons” at you. And, as the saying goes, you most likely were forced to “made some lemonade”. You created the best life that you could for yourself. Many of us decided to set boundaries with friends and family. We’ve separated work and personal life because we didn’t know if it was OK to be ourselves at our jobs. These decisions kept you safe, and in many ways made your life better. But, they also carry weight on your wellbeing in the long term.
As a therapist I notice a special kind of strength in clients who have to deal with these tough decisions. Struggle and suffering has made them stronger in many ways.
But, when you are used to live with stress, and you start to become overwhelmed, how do you know if this time you are dealing with more than just the regular? How do you know if you should reach out to someone and deal with the underlying issues that fuel your negative feelings? Are you dealing with feelings of depression that require some extra help? Or does everyone go through these same moods, which basically would make your feelings “normal?”
In this post I’ll address one the signs that you may be dealing with more than just stress: feeling grumpy. Regular stress can leave you in a grumpy mood. But, if you are always feeling angry, that can also be a sign of depression. This goes beyond a sassy personality (although it can be expressed as such). Rather, it’s a more constant state of irritability.
Depression is closely linked to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Another symptom of depression is a loss of interest in activities that you enjoyed in the past. So, when you feel this dip in experiencing pleasure or happiness in general, a very common reaction is to feel and act grumpy.
Society makes anger more acceptable than other, more vulnerable feelings. Raising your voice at someone that mistreated you feels safer than crying in front of someone that hurt you. When you fear feeling weak you may unconsciously switch your perspective to a feeling that makes you feel stronger. You can observe this in animals that feel threatened, and as a result make themselves look bigger and more aggressive. It’s a very useful defense mechanism, and has helped our species survive for millions of years.
Anger is a very useful feeling, because it elicits change in yourself and people around you. But, it blocks you from feeling better if you are using it at a time when a different feeling needs to be expressed. Being in a constant state of irritability prevents you from seeing the good in the world and finding solutions to your stress.
If you feel annoyed or irritable too often, you may be seeing a sign that your stress is more serious than the average. It may be a good time to learn new ways of dealing with difficult situations. Some life changes may be in order. You don’t need to feel this way all the time! The first step to feeling better is to reach out, whether this means contacting a friend, reading a helpful book, or scheduling an appointment with a good therapist. My only advice, don’t wait too long.
Mark Loewen helps overwhelmed adults find their way when life becomes too much to handle. He specializes in parenting, relationships, and LGBTQ issues. launchpadcounseling.com/mark-loewen