Tell me about it: How can I overcome my anger problems?
PROBLEM: I am a wife and an abuser. I love my husband more than anything in this world, but with my abuse it’s not possible for anyone to feel this love.
My husband and I, we have different personalities. I am an extrovert and he’s an introvert. Many of our problems come from this. I get depressed when being in the house for too long. I work only seven hours per week and he works 60 hours.
He works online and all of our physical confrontations happen at home.
I don’t want to be violent. It hurts him and it hurts me. But I can’t help it. I go from zero to a 100 in the blink of an eye. The psychiatrist said that I might need antidepressants because I might have chronic depression. We didn’t continue with the treatment because of money and also negligence from my side.
I do want to change though. Right now, I am thinking about becoming a Christian just like him. But I’ve never been a religious person.
I don’t want to lose my husband, but I have advised him to leave me. But I think that without him I will not do so well. I might stop eating and die in this way. Just from depression. I don’t want to become addicted to antidepressants, he also disapproves of this. We think I might become addicted easily because in the past I used to drink and smoke. I’ve never been dependent, but I’d drink and smoke frequently.
Because of his religion I have changed so many things and sometimes I feel like I am not allowed to be the type of person I used to be.
I have anger problems, I am violent, I threaten him, I am crazy jealous, I am verbally abusive, I put him down all the time, I have no self-control, and my parents are divorced. They were violent to each other and I used to see everything. They always tried their best to make me ignore the problem by spoiling me so now I don’t respect rules either.
I love my husband. If I have to lose him because I can’t treat him well I will, but I do believe in a cure for me. I do believe I can change. I need help. Desperately.
I see the fear in him. And when I am angry, I am happy about it. But when I get out of it, I just cry because I can’t believe I am such a monster.
I am 20 and he’s 24. We’re holding tight to this marriage but it’s not going well.
ADVICE: Your letter suggests that you are much older, but you are just 20 and beginning to face the issues in your life. Seeing a psychiatrist is a hugely important step and you need to do this through the public health system so that it does not cost you but also so that you benefit from a team approach. Medication will treat your depression and hopefully tackle some of the violent tendencies, but it also sounds as though you could do with some long-term psychological help to deal with your family history. Community mental health can offer both these services and, in some cases, it can also provide family or couple therapy, so you and your husband can work on this together.
It is clear that you grew up with both love and violence in your family and you are now repeating a pattern that you have perhaps known since birth. Not liking or disapproving of yourself or your behaviours can be a major contributing factor to depression and it seems that this is a regular occurrence for you: you are violent towards your husband and then feel terrible afterwards but the pattern repeats. Your good intentions not to cause hurt are not enough to change this pattern and so both of you need to seek help in order to tackle this situation successfully.
Your husband is now also part of the problem as he loves you and keeps hoping that this will be enough, but he too needs to address his response and part in this violent pattern. Low-cost couple therapy is readily available, and you can access this through the website of the Family Therapy Association (familytherapyireland.com) and their training programmes offer reduced rates.
You are right that there is far more focus on the abused than on the abuser but that is because the abuser is rarely fully aware of their behaviour or they are not help-seeking. You are both these things and it is a credit to you that you are planning on tackling your issues. You, and your husband, are worried about dependence on antidepressants but this medication is not addictive, and your doctor or psychiatrist will be able to confirm this for you.
What is far more likely is that the pattern you have will become worse and that a crisis will result which may leave both of you traumatised.Go and see your GP immediately and get a referral to community mental health, book a couple session at your earliest convenience and be committed to a future where you can be the kind of person you really are, free from violence and self-criticism.