Home Health & Food Sickle cell and anger

Sickle cell and anger

by James Davies

Tola Dehinde

Any person living with sickle cell would most probably get things done from a place of allowing the anger in them to propel them into achieving what they want to do. Why do I say this? I say this because sometimes, anyone living with sickle cell is going through hell, pain-wise on one hand and we say nothing to anyone about it. Most of all, other than the stress of dealing with one complication or the other, is the issue of pain. There is what is called acute pain, which can last from minutes to six months. There is chronic pain, which is longer in duration and can be constant or intermittent.

There is also neuropathic pain, which is described as shooting, stabbing, or burning pain. There is nociceptive pain, which is described as sharp, achy, or throbbing pain. There is radicular pain, which affects the legs and back. People living with sickle cell live with either one or a couple of these pains, constantly or on occasions. How many times, does one want to say to anyone that, ‘I have pain in this part of my body?’’

The default response for anyone with sickle cell would be to say, ‘I am okay,’ when they are not okay. This is not a lie per se, no it isn’t. The response comes from a place of being used to having pain and used to living with pain. The reply comes from a place of, ‘yes I have this pain, but I need to keep it together and get on with my life.’ When pain is part and parcel of one’s daily living, then after a while the pain does not have a hold on one. And that is why I said living with sickle cell does involve using the suppressed anger inside one to move forward.

People who live with constant pain can be impatient, moody, aggressive, short-tempered, restless, agitated, or get angry. This is all due to what the person living with sickle cell is enduring or going through. Let us say for example, that one goes to bed with no problems, but one is woken up in the middle of the night with pains in one’s back and legs. And let’s say this person takes tablets that might or might not work. And yes, that does happen on and off; the pain tablets will not work for whatever reasons. Sometimes, the pain is reduced but not eliminated completely. This individual has a meeting to attend in the morning and will be talking through a PowerPoint presentation that this individual has been working with for a few weeks. Do you think that such a person will be mild-mannered throughout the day? I bet you that there will be times when this person will snap; not because of the current situation or the person in front of them but because of what they are going through in silence.

This brings me to my topic today, which is about sickle cell and anger. Anger can cause a rush of adrenaline through one’s body. Before you recognise the emotion you’re feeling, you might notice:

  • Your heart is beating faster
  • Your breathing is quicker
  • Your body is becoming tense
  • Your feet are tapping
  • You’re clenching your jaw or fists

Anger is known as a secondary emotion. We get angry because of something and in the case of sickle cell, it could be because of living with constant pain, or one has not been able to achieve what one had purposed; it could be because one has been overlooked for promotion because of sickle cell; it could be because one has not had decent hours of sleep in a long time; it could be because of the unpredictable nature of when the pain crises would flare up or it could be because of relationship issues. There are a thousand and one reasons why one gets angry when living with sickle cell. It is important to know that uncontrolled anger can affect one negatively by increasing pain.

Sometimes when we’re feeling angry, it is better to walk away from the situation for a while. This can give one time to understand one’s thoughts about the situation, decide on how to respond to what happened and feel more in control. Some ways to help buy yourself time to think are:

  • Counting to 10 before you react, easier said than done, but it is possible.
  • Going for a short walk – even if it’s just around the block. One doesn’t always have to talk when one is angry. One can try and cool off and come back to the situation by not speaking from a place of anger.
  • Talking to a trusted friend who is not connected to the situation. Expressing your thoughts out loud can help you understand why you’re angry and help calm you down.

Tough as sickle cell is, keep on being you and at the same time, keep on looking after yourself as you keep on being resolute, purposeful, and tenacious about your life, work, health and your desire to not fall sick and in your pursuit of happiness. 

Buy yourself time to think before lashing out because most times, it is the frustration of sickle cell that might make one lash out in anger.

If you would like to get in touch with me about sickle cell, do so, via email: [email protected] And do check out my blog: https://www.dailylivingwithsicklecell.com/ My book on sickle cell –How To Live With Sickle Cell and my other books are available for purchase on www.amazon.com

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