Oh, how angry I am! Everything is too overwhelming, and Iʼm doing too little to win in this war. Do you recognize yourself? This article is for you

Yuliana Skibitska
Kateryna Kobernyk
Oh, how angry I am! Everything is too overwhelming, and Iʼm doing too little to win in this war. Do you recognize yourself? This article is for you

Kate Ban / «Бабель»

Psychologists and psychotherapists say that during such fundamental crises as war, people need to get angry. Anger helps the psyche during severe stress, which a person cannot influence. But later, anger can start to destroy a person from the inside and traumatize people around. Babel editor Yuliana Skibitska thought about it when she noticed that she was hitting a closet door that wouldnʼt close. So she asked psychotherapist Volodymyr Stanchyshyn to explain how anger works, when itʼs productive and when itʼs not, and how to deal with constant irritation (spoiler: get more sleep).

Lately, Iʼve been very angry at things that I didnʼt notice before. Why so?

This is not anger, but rather irritation. These states are different. When the war started, Ukrainians had to be angry, because anger mobilizes internal reserves and makes people less empathetic. It helps to have a calmer attitude towards death and grief around. Our mind and body must be numb because we are under a lot of stress. Such anger protects the psyche.

And irritation is anger that is directed inside a person. It usually occurs due to two factors. The first is powerlessness and confusion from the fact that a person cannot change terrible things. Then he or she begins to look for an internal enemy, to get angry on other people, because he/she cannot solve a complex issue. The second factor is even more prosaic — fatigue. When a person is tired, the psyche does not have the resources to respond adequately to external stimuli, so we become irritated.

I shout at relatives and close people. What should I do?

Go to bed. This seems like a trite answer, but itʼs correct. You need to rest, to routinize your life. This is general advice. And in a specific situation, it is very important to have indicators that show that you are about to explode. For example, you feel how your heartbeat, breathing, and muscles have got tenser. At this moment, you need to step aside. In the literal sense — to take a walk, to catch your breath. Because when anger has already flooded in, you canʼt do anything and you will definitely break down. Then you need to settle the situation, perhaps apologize — and go to sleep.

But how to fall asleep if Iʼm very angry and constantly think about it?

In this state thereʼs no way. But sleep is a global, not an instant solution to a problem. The war has been going on for a year, it is changing, we expect new offensives. If you feel constantly irritated, the first thing to think about is whether you are getting enough sleep.

I sit for days and get angry with myself. Is this normal? Can it push me forward?

On the contrary, it is a destructive process. Such anger is provoked by guilt, and it is always destructive. It does make us change things, but we do it by force, not by desire. If you want to do something — for example, volunteer or help the army, you should do it not because you are bad or do little for Ukraine, but because you have the strength and you really want this. Otherwise, you will burn out faster and, as a result, become more angry with yourself. A closed circle emerges.

I am consumed by anger towards Russia, I want to destroy it, but I canʼt! What to do?

It is wrong to say that you cannot do anything. You can write a text about anger, interview war victims, support people, volunteer, donate to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, defend your position on social networks. Each of us can do a lot. War is about the front, the front is the army. However, the rear is also an important part of the war, and itʼs a lot of work here. When you channel your anger towards the Russians into work, you get a feeling of making sense, then you can tame all the negative emotions.

You know, even your answers make me angry! Is this a clinical case? Which specialist should I contact?

If you canʼt deal with your irritation on your own, of course you should go to a psychologist or psychotherapist. They will help you understand your feelings and change your behavior or reactions to stimuli. It doesnʼt matter what kind of psychotherapeutic approach he or she practices, the main thing is that it suits you. And about how to choose it, you can read here.

Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.

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