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How Do I Stop Being So Irritable?

From the U.S.: 52 with adult child and one at home younger child late in life who is on autism spectrum and defiant. Disabled due to multiple medical issues (bi-polar depression, fibromyalgia, severe arthritis, chronic fatigue, neck and back pain, etc).

Repeatedly molested by a relative until 9, attempted rape by same relative at 18. Adult male passes til 13 from another family member and once from a stranger. Parents divorced at 8, mother constantly criticized me. Forgave both and on better terms with mother, who admitted reason for distancing me and treating me inferior to sibling was I threw a major public fit at 8 when she was leaving dad. Never brought up sexual abuse until my 20s because of the strained relationship. Discovered family knew of his history with other family members but overlooked it.

Born with heart issues; underwent heart surgery at 11. Hormone treatment from 13 to 45 for excessive bleeding. Menopause at 49-51. Inherited family migraines. Blocked memories of molestation except the last one. Lost childhood memories until 9, including father. Can’t recall friends or schools from childhood and shared experiences other members my age remember.

As long as I can remember, been easily irritated and frustrated. Dental problems from excessively gritting/grinding teeth. Easily stressed, over emotional, shut down when confronted, weight issues from low self-esteem. Constantly feel people talk about me behind my back. Afraid of public attention (meeting strangers, conversations, talking in front of a group). Have always joked to ease tension.

Went through extremely stressful situation for several years and began a downward spiral of illnesses.

Tried numerous therapists but doctors are horrible in my state and useless, but I can’t afford to go elsewhere. Under psychiatric treatment with medication for fatigue, bi-polar depression, and mood for about 5 years.

Have tried self CBT and relaxation techniques. Frequent tension and stress headaches. Thoughts of stupid stuff from nowhere hard to stop. (IE: if cutoff in traffic, will bother me for an hour and maybe pop back up later or next day. Thoughts of things that didn’t happen playing out as if they had.) Had road rage since I can recall as far back as my 20s. Easily lose train of thought as far back as I recall.

All of this is getting worse and I’m tired of trying to fix myself when doctors aren’t helping. Don’t know what to do to ease this.

A: When I read your letter, my first response was “of course she’s irritable.” You have a complicated and lengthy history of traumatic events. Without specific treatment, most people in your situation develop symptoms, often several symptoms, irritability being one of them. It is no surprise to me that you are tired and tired of it.

I’m sorry you haven’t found helpful helpers. Since you can’t afford private treatment, I do urge you to look into whether there is a community mental health center nearby. Often such centers have a sliding fee scale. You might also look into whether there is a women’s center or domestic violence center near you. Often, they too offer low or no fee services. Your physician may be able to provide you with some recommendations.

In addition, I encourage you to participate in one of the forums here at PsychCentral. Members provide support and advice to each other. I think you would find it a relief to chat with people who understand and who might have some practical ideas for managing your feelings.

You deserve and need good trauma treatment. You are only 52. You may well have several decades of life ahead of you. With proper treatment, they could be much happier than what you are experiencing now.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Stop Being So Irritable?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie Hartwell-WalkerDr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do I Stop Being So Irritable?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/05/13/how-do-i-stop-being-so-irritable/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 12 May 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 May 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.