Welcome Home, Old Friend


Rage seems to be intrinsic to my flavor of bipolar disorder.  In a mixed state, where symptoms of both depression and mania manifest, my “manic” is some form of agitation—anxiety, compulsive behavior, or rage.

I made the journal spread above in the midst of anger so black and sharp I could barely breathe.  I painted over the picture on the right—mini-me with my dog, Rebel—then slashed at it with a steak knife.  The violence stunned me, violence aimed at myself, at the innocent and vulnerable part of me.  I painted in the gouges, then echoed the savagery on the opposite page.

I left it that way for several days, coming back to take in the images and process the layers of Truth I’d uncovered.

I used to believe there must be a reason I got so mad.  I used to sort through all the old betrayals, snubs, and layers of unfairness in my cheesecloth memory.  But, there’s no reason for my rage other than funky brain chemistry.  Trying to justify it only throws napalm on the fire.

Rage is just another part of me, like the creeping hopelessness that sits on the other end of the spectrum, like my blue eyes, like the way I put words or colors together.  And like everything else, the only thing to do with it is welcome it home.  That’s when I pulled Thich Nhat Hahn’s Anger off my bookshelf and found the words my Rage needed.

Today, this moment, contains no rage.  This morning I wrote in my journal next to The Dalai Lama:

Dalai Lama

“When the symptoms are big, there’s always this base undercurrent of failure, a deep Mariana Trench of wrongness, that awful and vague sense that I should be doing something else/more, that I should be something else/more.  It negates all that I do and all that I am.  It robs me of any satisfaction or sufficiency.  Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to these journals now.  They are so immediate.  The rush of rightness washes over me without any censor.  Pictures together tell an immediate story.  Color bypasses thought.  The soft texture of the Pan Pastels signals instant comfort, and I feel masterful… I feel incredibly lucky and grateful for this tool.”

Yes, I do.

The Adventure Continues.


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Littlesundog
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 10:49:51

    Rage doesn’t arrive so much for me anymore… but the charge of it revisits from time to time and I must seek good reading to remind me I do not have to sit with it. I try to move on. I’m glad you’ve found a “rush of rightness” to help you through.


  2. Leslie
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 11:10:41

    ‘Trying to justify it only throws napalm on the fire’….YES! I’ve been trying to figure out my anger for so long. Yes there are triggers but the level of anger I reach is ridiculous. Do you find yourself in tears trying to keep yourself from acting on your anger?


  3. EGS
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 12:19:41

    Your journal is like a work of art. Amazing!


  4. Cheryl LaVille
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 12:34:18

    I love you, Sandy.


  5. David Kanigan
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 16:57:07

    And we gratefully await to follow along your next chapter…Rage on!


  6. LindaNoel
    Jun 13, 2016 @ 07:34:04

    When I haven’t come here in a while ~~ this time, way too long ~~ what you have expressed and shared here and the ways you have done it gives me not only a peek out of the Pit I am morassed in, but a strong leg up to fling myself over the edge onto the solid-and-always-changing raft of real Earth and I can BREATHE. I am so lucky & grateful for you.


  7. Alice
    Jun 13, 2016 @ 19:05:19

    Anger is such a tricky feeling. I almost want to say, “trickster.” The art that came out of you in that moment is starkly beautiful, as well as violent. I am glad you found a way to bring it out of you without harming more than paper.

    And to then learn from the experience? #respect

    ❤ alice


  8. pegoleg
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 15:28:47

    You may remember one of my younger sisters has brain cancer. The doctor told us a couple of months ago that they can’t do anything more for her. She’s doing OK, actually, still living alone and we have family members checking on her and driving her around. But she has times of intense despair. It’s not so much about dying, as you might imagine. She agonizes that she has not done enough with her life, that she is too imperfect and that God will not want her.

    Since she has trouble processing new information now, it is very difficult to reassure her and it’s an exhausting process. Then the moments/hours/day passes, and she’s back on an even keel again, until the next time she sinks into the pit.

    I’m beginning to appreciate that the human brain is a wonderful, weird, and sometimes scary place, isn’t it?


  9. kirizar
    Aug 19, 2021 @ 10:59:39

    I like going back in time and finding words that meet me where I’m at. I too have a rage that burns unassisted. I have described it as my German heritage–a berserker rage that washes over me like a hot wave and pours out my mouth in obscenities and bile. It is a part of me that I am ashamed of when it takes control. If I could, I would have it excised from me like a tumor. But, as you said, it is part of me, like my grey eyes that never stick to just one color. Perhaps it is part of what draws us to art and nature–a need to find a place where we are centered in the storm?


    • Sandy Sue
      Aug 24, 2021 @ 11:13:07

      I’m sorry I missed this comment before now. I haven’t been tracking anything very well! Oh, that berserker rage! It’s like being possessed, isn’t it? After living alone for some years, I was shocked how it targeted my sister when we moved in together. Instant and vicious. I’m afraid our relationship is broken permanently now–or at least any chance we had at being companions for each other. AND I forgive my self. I did all I could to make amends.


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