• Jamillon Centre

Why Am I Always Angry and Depressed

Updated: Aug 13

If you’re asking yourself “Why am I always angry and depressed?” you’re probably worried that there’s something wrong with you. However, if you’re frequently angry and depressed you might be relieved to know that there's a good reason, but it tends to be buried in your past.

Angry and depressed most of the time

Many of you will have been shamed for your anger when you were little, and you’ve learnt to repress or ignore it. To repress your anger takes a lot of energy. It requires your body to produce peptides to help with the repression. If you have to hold down and repress one feeling the peptides your body produces will tend to repress all feelings.

When this happens you can become passive and depressed in your behavior. You might tend to avoid conflict and be fearful of speaking up or standing up for yourself. It’s almost impossible to have and maintain boundaries in relationships with others. You’ll often feel victimised and intimidated and can’t say no.

But some people who are angry and depressed just want to rage at everyone and everything. These are the people who get angry at the kids, at sports teams, at the government and politicians or the system or anything else that justifies their venting.

Your anger and depression protect you

If you grew up in a family where you were physically or verbally attacked by your parents or older siblings you learn very quickly that getting angry is not safe. In fact getting angry at them might make things worse. You quickly learn that the only way to survive is to hide and bury your true feelings. But if the feelings you had as a child were not expressed they never go away. They remain in your system just as they were when you were little.

At a subconscious level, anger is a protection mechanism. Not only does it protect you from the outside world but it also protects you from feeling your own deeper, more painful feelings: the feelings that lay hidden in the abyss of your childhood experiences.

The good news is once you start to feel the emotions and feelings that drive your anger, you become less angry and less depressed. The underlying pain that fuels the anger and subsequent depression are eliminated.

Alan’s Story: An angry life lived in a pool of pain fueled rage

Alan had felt angry at the world since he was a young boy. He loved going to the football on Saturday afternoons. It gave him an avenue to scream and rage at the game, the players and other fans.

As an adult, Alan was depressed and carried a constant scowl. Most people seemed to avoid him and he avoided them. Alan had no relationships or friendships or even a car when he first started therapy. He found it difficult to hold a conversation, maintain eye contact or function in society.

Talking didn’t help, and medication wasn’t an option

Alan had seen other counsellors and psychiatrists, but he found no relief or improvements. Talking did not help or improve any of his symptoms, and he did not want to be medicated as a way to survive life. He was angry at the psychiatrists and called them pompous and arrogant.

When Alan began trauma therapy he became aware that his anger started early in life. He was angry at his mother. She was a strict Catholic who in his view, loved God more than she loved or cared for him or any of her children. She was dutiful but cold and she never protected him.

The anguish of not being cared for and protected

Alan's mother re-married when he was a young boy, and he suffered at the hands of an elder step-brother in many ways including sexually.

At times, his step-father and step-brother both ganged up on him, physically attacking him. His mother knew what was going on as she often saw or heard it happening but did nothing.

Alan was bullied in his home, at school and in the world and his parents did nothing to help him. He believed there was no one he could turn to with his problems. Instead, he kept them to himself and silently raged at life, at God, at everyone around him.

My parents don't love me

When Alan started therapy, he raged in nearly every session. All the years of pent up anger, neglect and ill-treatment came tumbling out.

As part of his treatment, he did a week long live-in intensive which was a prerequisite to gaining access to the 24/7 feeling room. And there in that room together with his weekly sessions, Alan felt his rage almost non-stop for two years.

Gradually in his sessions, Alan began to get in touch with his more vulnerable feelings. The realisation that his parents who in his words ‘didn’t give a shit’ were never going to care or help him was painful for him to feel. So painful that he preferred his anger and rage. Alan said that "being angry makes me feel powerful". Being angry was much better than feeling weak, helpless and needy.

I don’t want to want or need you

Alan began to feel the abandonment, hurt, powerlessness and need for his mother. He hated these feelings; they were excruciating.

He hated feeling the helplessness he had felt as a little boy. He hated feeling the constant unmet needs to be held and comforted by his mother; feelings he’d denied most of his life. Needs that his mother never met or would meet. It was unbearable to him. He’d spent a lifetime hating his mother. He didn’t want to feel any need for her now.

Reaching the deeper pain

Alan was connecting to the emptiness and nothingness that he’d felt as a child and these feelings were intolerable. So intolerable that in therapy sessions, he’d often go into the angry feelings instead. He understood profoundly why he had become angry and depressed as a adult.

Recently in a group session when his sense of need and vulnerability began to surface Alan consciously choose to become angry and express his angry feelings instead. He did not feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of the other group members.

The breakthrough of feeling the pain that the anger hides

At the end of the group, Alan spoke about his difficulty in expressing these feelings in front of other group members. He told them how he’d gone into his anger during the session as a way to avoid the need for his mother.

That was a big step for Alan. It was the first time he’d spoken about his vulnerable feelings to anyone other than his therapist. Being able to talk about his difficulties in being vulnerable with the group while maintaining eye contact, was a breakthrough for him. It was the first time he had let others see who he really was.

One of the other group members who’d been in a group with Alan two years earlier said that he wasn’t nearly as loud as he used to be. That was positive feedback.

The pool of pain fueled anger and frustration slowly diminished

Alan’s commitment to his therapy resulted in the pool of pain fueled rage slowly decreasing over time. By allowing himself to re-experience and express many of the feelings he had as a little boy in the safety of his sessions and the feeling room Alan slowly worked his way through his anger.

He noticed that the intensity of anger in his daily life began to diminish. He found he could interact with other people in the world without always being triggered into a rage.

Taking control and having personal power

Through his dedicated regular feeling work, Alan mostly stopped rebelling against the world and life. He bought himself a car and was able to move into a flat by himself and live independently for the first time in years.

His personal hygiene improved, and he was able to maintain good eye contact during conversations. Alan’s general demeanour was more affable, and when interacting with others, a look of interest and curiosity replaced his scowl.

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© 2015  Jamillon Centre - updated August 2020