Almost as much as sex (note: see yesterday's blog), anger is often an uncomfortable and avoided topic. In our society, women are generally raised to avoid anger and many of us are bad at acknowledging it--let alone at expressing it. This attempt to shove it down often means that it comes out in unexpected and unintended ways. I have a most uncomfortable memory of becoming furious one morning, while I was on chemotherapy, when I encountered a woman walking her perfectly friendly unleashed dog. In our town, there is a leash law (not very well enforced), and my own dog was leashed. I began talking angrily to her about didn't she know the law and put the leash on her dog right this second etc. Fortunately, I never saw her again. If she saw me, she probably wisely avoided me.
Even as I was speaking, I recognized that this was very inappropriate. There was plenty to be angry about, but her unleashed dog was not one of those things. When I talk with other women about anger, we usually begin with the directive to recognize it. Depression is sometimes described as "anger turned inward", and it can be easier to feel sad than to feel angry. Both are reasonable and normal and acceptable emotions, and we need to fine tune our self awareness, so we can understand our feelings.
This is a good article from Cure Today about this issue. I give you the beginning and a link:
Seeing Red: Coping with Anger During Cancer
BY HEATHER L. VAN EPPS, PHD
Coping with anger during cancer can be difficult.
In the summer of 2009, Debbie Woodbury was recovering from a mastectomy after receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer two months earlier. Although her cancer was caught very early and her treatment was successful, she found herself unable to get back to life as usual. She realized that she was angry.
"I was dealing with what I had just gone through, what I had lost and what I now knew about my mortality," Woodbury says. "And that brought up a lot of resentment and anger."
Feelings of anger are common among cancer patients, and those feelings can crop up at any time. According to oncologists, anger is one of the first emotions that
patients express upon being diagnosed, but it is also common for those who suffer relapses.