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What Makes You Mad?

Posted by Joanne Martin
Joanne Martin
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on Wednesday, 22 August 2012
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What Makes You Mad

All it took for me today was a headline in the morning newspaper. It read, “Low-income mothers prone to anxiety”. “Anxiety”. That is what they call it today. What I’m talking about is that dis-ease that women get when they are simply overwhelmed.   In Freud’s day it was called “hysteria”. When I was still a child, my mother had a bad case of it. They called hers “a nervous breakdown”. She had several, in fact. They treated her with shock treatment. Not surprisingly, it didn’t help. Because it didn’t address the cause! The woman had eight children for heaven’s sake, one every two years. (She literally had them “for heaven’s sake” since she had tried the then new “birth control pill” but flushed it down the toilet because she was Roman Catholic, and the Pope had called it sinful.) Meanwhile, she had no family support. She was isolated, frustrated, exhausted, and broke!   “Breakdown”? Well, duh!

Psychology was a young science back then - in the 50s - and it still is! Shock treatments are much less common now though. And there are many more women in medicine now. But the majority of doctors are still diagnosing this dis-ease that women suffer as though it were a mental illness, or a psychological disorder. And, for the most part, they are treating it with pharmaceuticals. But medication is never enough. And it certainly does not address the cause. Which is? In my opinion, and it is one shared by others, the problem is that for many women, her roles tend to subsume her very self. In those feminine roles she loses the opportunity to express herself and, with the exception of childbirth, to be creative. She becomes like a “caged bird”.

A woman’s psychological development requires integration of many facets of herself in order for her to become a whole and healthy human being. When a woman is limited to only one or two roles, she can feel or act mad because the unactualized parts of herself are struggling to express themselves. If she is not aware of her frustration, her anger at her unlived life is likely to be directed unconsciously at her children, her husband, her parents, her friends, or even herself. This accounts for the inexplicable moodiness of many mothers who seem “mad” to their children.

                                                   ~ Linda Schierse Leonard, Meeting the Madwoman

Doctors don’t have time to address this need; and pharmaceuticals certainly won’t do it. “Talk” therapy is expensive, and beyond the reach of most women. What is the answer? Other women! You need to know that while you might be angry, you are not “mad”, not if “mad” means crazy.   You are not crazy; and you are not alone. Talk with your “sisters”.   Join a book club. Or join a writing group! Go where your voice will be heard. Express yourself!

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Therapeutic Writing Erases Bad Moods

Posted by Mari L. M cCarthy
Mari L. M cCarthy
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on Tuesday, 01 May 2012
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Perplexed 200x133

A bad mood can be tough to shake. Maybe you woke up with a headache or had an unpleasant conversation with your boss, and you haven’t quite been able to regain your positive, cheerful disposition. Maybe you are simply cranky for no real reason.

Don’t worry; your journal is here to help. Take a breather, find a quiet spot away from the madness and make time for some therapeutic writing. Even 10 minutes can rejuvenate you and help you transform a yucky day.

Try these Therapeutic Writing Tips:

1. Spend a few moments reflecting on how you are feeling right now. What adjectives would you use to describe your mood? Irritable, frustrated, tired, angry? Are there circumstances or events that caused your bad mood? What people are involved?

Write a paragraph in your journal that sums up your mental state. Be as raw and honest as you want – no one is going to see this but you, so let it all out! (If that means you rant and swear for several pages, that’s perfectly fine.) For example:

I am exhausted and annoyed and generally ticked off at everyone and everything. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and it seems that every little thing that has happened today has made my bad mood worse. It doesn’t help that I got into an argument with my mom on the phone last night before I went to bed and keep thinking, thinking, thinking about it today.

2. Read what you wrote, and ask yourself, “Do I have control over any of these factors? If yes, which?” Tell your journal what circumstances you can realistically have an effect on, and which are out of your control. Actively try to accept that you won’t be able to change everything you want. For example:

I can’t control the way my mom sometimes criticizes me and interferes with certain aspects of my life, but I can control how I react to her behavior. I do get really defensive and upset with her as a knee-jerk reaction. I can change that.

3. Think about what you would say to a friend or partner who was having a bad day. What words of encouragement, support or humor would you share with him or her? What do you most want to hear when you are in a cranky mood? Channel your inner coach and write those words down in your journal. For example:

I’m sorry you’re having a tough time right now. That’s no fun, and you deserve much better. Don’t let the little things get to you. You can smooth things over with your mom tomorrow, and it will all be fine. Read a good book, watch a funny TV show and go to bed early. And do some Night Notes so you can clear your head and get a good night’s sleep.4. Follow your own advice, and remember that tomorrow is another day! Also remember that everything gets renewed and refreshed with a good night’s post therapeutic writing sleep.

What therapeutic writing strategies do you use to turn your bad moods into glad moods?

Mari McCarthy with bio


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