“Irritable! That’s how I often feel!” And upon checking with my wife, she agreed. Strange as it might seem we both realised something was not right, separately, on the same day, after 18 months of struggle.
Such was the realisation that the consuming anger that would rise up without warning was actually a sign that I was reaching my end—I was depressed. What a revelation that was; to know there was a way out, but that that way out meant admitting my weakness. And then an irony appeared; the moment I admitted my need for help, in that moment—that very moment—hope drew near.
Irritability is a tell-tale sign of depression, especially in males.
Something would go ‘wrong’ and I would flip into a rage, even if I was alone or nobody else noticed; within me I was beside myself with fury. And at the very same time part of me was asking, in a desperate state of confusion, “What’s going on here, Steve?!”
Such fits of anger were tiring, and though fortunately there was usually no visible harm created, there was much spiritual torment that needed to be reconciled. I was out of control and didn’t know how to restore that control.
But the word irritability—or irritable—got me wondering. It hit me in a moment of openness of heart and mind. God used that word to reveal his truth. My irritability was the sign I was depressed. I had fought the best I could, in my own strength, for 18 months. Now was the time to truly admit my weakness and seek help.
Why Anger Is Often the Sign of Depression
Why would we get unreasonably angry otherwise, unless our inner world was in turmoil?
Sometimes anger is all we have left to rail against a world we can neither understand nor work with. That world, for whatever reason or reasons, has given us cause to feel rejected in some way. All we have left is anger. And self-righteousness is the driver, because justice has not been served—according to the depressed mindset.
Anger reveals sadness for the issues of contempt in our lives we have no control over. And it doesn’t take much to feel out of control.
When we admit our sadness, however, because we have realised the role anger is playing, the path to recovery opens up—despite the despair within our circumstance.
Uncharacteristic irritability can be a sign of the sadness of depression. Sometimes all we have left is anger; but upon realising our need for help, to admit that, opens a path to recovery. If we are honest about anger we may see the sadness beneath. Such sadness is an invitation to be explored, to be validated, and to be wrestled with. As soon as we do these things the door to hope swings ajar and then wide open.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.