People With a Mental Illness Are Not More Angry!

December 31, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

I feel like I am doing a lot of apologizing lately. I am sick of saying: "I am sorry", "Sorry, I did not mean it", "Please forgive me" or this one is creative: "Please, let me steam clean your carpets because I am oh so sorry I called you a choice word when we were fighting...Did you need to borrow any money? Like my new leather boots? Take them. Because, dammit, I am so sorry!"

Get Over It: We Can Express Anger!

Stigma surrounding mental illness and the expression of anger is common. Living with a mental illness does not make us more angry than anyone else.Because I have a mental illness I often feel like any negative emotion I express is quickly deemed part of my illness. Why can't I be honest, angry, and not sorry? Because, apparently, I am unlike like the friend who does not live with a mental illness and who can call me a nasty name if we argue. My sibling who can hang up on me and ignore me for weeks until I say I am sorry. If I spit out a choice word, well, I must be missing some medication. Bollocks.

Does taking Prozac mean I can't express emotions? We are allowed to argue once a while and not because we have a mental illness but because we have a damn heartbeat. We can say sorry when and if we want to--just like everyone else. We are allowed to be angry just as much as we are allowed to feel joy and the entire spectrum of human emotion.

A Healthy Dose of Anger...

I would be amiss if I ranted on without mentioning that anger can be a sign of trouble in respect to mental illness but that's not what I am focusing on here-- I have other posts that focus on this.

Having to say we are sorry--or feel obligated--when in direct connection to our diagnosis is unfair. Have you ever been the recipient of someone asking you, "Are you taking your medication?" or "Have you seen your psychiatrist lately?" That's always nice. Quite a lovely way to make us angry.

To the point: If our anger is perceived as being a direct result of our diagnosis that is stigmatizing and that is when we should state: "I am angry because (insert why here) and not because of my illness" or throw in some other words, after all, if they already think we express our feelings only because of our diagnosis they need to be enlightened.

Why Am I Writing About Mental Illness and Anger?

Reasons for topics come from our lives, our intellect and thought process, but this one came from something as simple as a phone call. Someone I love very much (even more than my dog!) stopped speaking to me because we got in an argument. We rarely fight, I rarely argue with anyone, it's exhausting. But we both said a couple nasty things and we stopped talking until, finally, I kissed @ss and called and said I was sorry. Just me. On her end it was purely my fault and not, say, a normal part of human discourse.

I wrote a blog about feeling like the black sheep in my family and this falls into the same category. Often, our expressing anger is assumed to be part of our illness. It's counterproductive because the assumption makes us frustrated. I don't know about you but I don't feel defined by my illness, no, I feel defined by my hobbies and accomplishments, taste in music and love for people and my pets.

Above all else, it made me sad. It made me feel like I was different because of my illness. I was wrong. I was sick. It was my fault. But it's not. We all get angry and we all need to make sure anger does not become abuse, but please, do not tell us our anger is because of our illness. It's just plain mean. Please say you are sorry.

In Conclusion...

If we really value a relationship saying we are sorry, regardless of how we feel, can be worth it. In the end, it's a five letter word and might come across better than a four letter word--Four letter words are more fun, I know. That aside, it's important we can express, in a healthy way, that we are not angry because we have an illness. We become angry like everyone else.

Give us a break and we will extend the favor. Sorry if this offended anyone. Ahem.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, December 31). People With a Mental Illness Are Not More Angry!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

January, 5 2013 at 2:46 pm

Great post! That's the hard part about any label. I agree that it is normal for anyone to be angry.

January, 3 2013 at 7:50 am

Thats an interesting article, i have been angry and felt well its my fault. For along time it was hard for me, and still is, to see sometimes anger is right and justified, healthy, and it is an emotion expressed by all. I too am so tired of having to say im sorry, and having to explain or be the one forgiven, and making it up to someone.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
January, 3 2013 at 10:25 am

Hi, JC:
Like everyone else we can get angry! I know how frustrating it can be hard to have our emotions connected directly to our mental health.
Thanks for commenting,

Tracy Boulter
January, 2 2013 at 2:38 pm

I relate totally. My husband hates me expressing emotions, likes me to be controlled like a dummy which is unhealthy for me as I then internalise any pain or anger. If I express anger or hurt I am told it is my mental illness. It could not be at all justified by the fact that he has gotten drunk and abusive to me, treated me with disrespect and that his reasoning is affected by his alcohol consumption. I feel like it would be easier to just leave my marriage and live alone. I feel angry at his reponse and am internalising it now, it is a never ending cycle and with the psychiatrist reducing my meds a difficult time as I am experiencing anxiety and depression.
I know it is not the case but when I am feeling this way I often think there is them and us, we are the ones suffering the mental illness, they are the root cause of the illness.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
January, 3 2013 at 10:23 am

Hi, Tracy:
It can be so hard to open dialogue with people about emotion and how we exhibit it. I hate when my emotions, healthy ones, are assumed to be part of my illness--now that makes me angry!
Thanks for reading and commenting,

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