What to do when chronic illness makes you angry

Perhaps your father has been diagnosed with cancer, or your mother with Alzheimer’s, and you’re angry. Angry at everyone: the doctors, yourself, the people around you, the sick person, and most of all, God.

So what do we do?

Smash a few windows? Yell? Break down into tears? What’s the appropriate response?

Is there one?

How do you cope with anger after a chronic illness diagnosis?

What happens when we’re angry at a situation but don’t want to be?

Anger is harmful

I have no “5 Step Plan” to cope with the anger associated with chronic illness. I’m going to admit that up front. But I think it’s helpful to start by admitting that anger is not the best response.

There are more helpful emotions to feel.

I think we all know that. But is anger always wrong? Surely it’s okay to be indignant at injustice, or annoyed at pain.

There’s no simple answer here, no black and white. But we need to remember that righteous or otherwise, anger can hurt people. Anger can cause us to lash out, it can ruin relationships, it can tear apart community. If not addressed will linger and fester, and it will ultimately destroy us.

We should not cultivate anger.

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After a diagnosis: Why anger?

A chronic illness diagnosis is emotional. We may feel sad, guilty, overwhelmed… and we can feel angry. Sometimes this is short-lived, but mine wasn’t.

Why are we angry?

Coping with anger after a diagnosis is not simple

Chronic illness and suffering is a sensitive topic, so let me use another analogy.

Say I stub my toe. It hurts. It makes me angry.

Why?

Anger over chronic illness is a reaction to frustration

Continue reading “After a diagnosis: Why anger?”