Q: I have been an angry kid my entire life and I realize recently that I get angry at very stupid things but then I can not calm down unless I break something most of the time. If I do not break something or feel that I have done something bad, I am not satisfied with myself. Sometimes my anger period passes and then I think about how I did nothing to help calm me down and that gets me angry again. I get frustrated at work when I see that other people have not done their part (which is often) and I normally control myself there pretty well, unless I am by myself I kinda flip out for a while. However, when I am at home, playing a video game or trying to concentrate on something and I lose focus (I have ADHD, so I have trouble staying on task) I get extremely angry and I look for the closest thing to throw… Most of the time when I throw something at the wall, it’s all over until the next time (which could be seconds later) but other times I just go nuts and start screaming and looking for something to break. I don’t normally break things in my house because I do not want to hurt my family’s belongings but sometimes I can not take it and I will put a hole in the wall or smash something. I have a punching bag and it does not do a thing for me, I also turned to punching my fridge but it seems since it doesn’t break, it doesn’t help. I try to keep things close by that are worthless and I will have no worry breaking them for times like this, but this is not something I wish to do. I know I have always gotten in a bit of a rage when I lose in a video game or something else like that, but I don’t think i’ve ever taken it as far as SEARCHING for something to break to be satisfied. I am not sure if I started this search for destruction after my grandmother died or before, but I know since then, i’ve had this happen more often and I have sworn off all religion and regularly take out my feelings on “god”.
I took Ritalin and Concerta when I was young, and was always causing problems in school, so one day, somehow, I stopped taking my medication and my mood seemed to completely change. I was always happy when I was off the medication and I started doing good in school and being nice to my family, besides my little anger fits that I have once in a while, I was doing great. Now, I have tried to seek help and I took a trial of a medication to help me concentrate for school. It seems like the moment I took it I started losing it again. I was very against taking medication since I had been off it and I don’t know if taking it again was getting to me or what, but it seems like after that I get angry very very easily and for very long. I just don’t understand, I stopped taking the medication after 2 days because of my huge change of attitude, but now i’m just a timebomb ready to snap at any little thing that happens. I also get headaches a lot now. I have no idea what to do, I have lost all hope in medications and every time I ask people for advice I get the same answer that never helps (stop and breath… count to 10…. write down your feelings…) but when im rampaging through my house mad at the world, theres no thinking to even do any of those things.
I also know that I get depressed sometimes because I have no girlfriend and have not had one in a very long time (years). I have nobody to show affection to, although I am a very loving person. I also got extremely depressed after my grandma died and some of these things could be pushing me over the edge too… I have a lot of trouble with my college courses right now as well, because I push my homework to the last minute and then stress out over it in the end. And I know what everyone suggests to help these things, but it is not easy for me with
ADHD to focus on helping these problems, I just can’t seem to work out all of my problems if ANY. If I could just fix one of these things it would be so much relief for me. I’m afraid that one day I will lose it and do something drastic to myself or somebody else, and I need to fix things before that happens. I do not have thoughts of hurting people, but I have though of hurting myself, and I do have many dreams in which bad things are happening to me, someone else or I am hurting other people. Please help.
A: It seems to me that you are dealing with several different issues that are most likely compounding the others. You have mentioned an anger problem, a history of ADHD, unresolved grief and possible depression. Any one of these is enough to warrant getting professional help and certainly all of them together are. You mention that others have made suggestions such as taking deep breaths and counting to 10…but you did not say whether or not you have tried therapy. If you are a college student you may be able to get free (or reduced cost) services through your student counseling center on campus or you are most likely still covered on your parents’ insurance as long as you are in school. I highly recommend that you seek help. These are tough issues to work on by yourself. The medications may have triggered a negative reaction for you and the unresolved grief could be making your anger more intense. I definitely agree that you need to get a handle on this or you may end up hurting yourself or someone else. You may need to see a psychiatrist as well to help you manage the ADHD without causing more anger outburst. I would also suggest getting the Anger Management Workbook and finding a therapist who specializes in cognitive therapy and grief. One of the golden rules of therapy is that if you can change your thinking and perceptions/interpretations of things you can then change your feelings and behavior. You can’t really change your feelings without understanding the thoughts underlying them and you are generally more successful in changing behaviors if you have some insight into why you do what you do. I hope you find help soon and I hope you can learn to live in a more peaceful and focused way. Good luck.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Apr 2007
Counts, H. (2007). I get very angry very fast.. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 9, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/04/15/i-get-very-angry-very-fast/