Uncontrollable Rage, Depression, and the Dharma


Yesterday was a bad day for me. I had another rage relapse. Rage and depression are things I struggle with every day. Both of those things are out-of-control emotions that I feel should be helped through my meditations. When I relapse, I feel disappointed I’m not “farther along” in my spirituality. Yesterday after I had my rage attack, I went into my room and sat down and watched myself, taking several deep breaths as the teachings instruct. I still didn’t feel better. All of the helpful suggestions I told myself didn’t help: “do some meditating”, “do some tai chi”, “go out for a walk”. Nooooo, when my emotions get out of control so does attention to any voice of reason. Instead I spent most of the day curled up with my Netflix under the covers of my bed, wishing the world would just go away.

I’ve been listening to Mahamudra For the Modern World by Reginald Ray. Both he and Pema Chodron emphasize in their teachings that Buddhism doesn’t make radical changes in one’s life. In other words, you can’t just wake up one day and be “fixed” of these sorts of things. I understand that intellectually. But there’s a certain amount of release I feel when I find myself screaming and pounding on walls. It’s not a good release, it’s very bad and stressful. But I know of no other way of expressing my severe disappointment when things happen that are out of my control. I feel a frustrated sense that the world is out to sabotage my sense of comfort and safety. That lack of control goes right through me to my lashing, screaming tongue and my pounding fists, just as my father taught me.

One of the things I notice is that the dharma instructions seem to work perfectly when things are going mostly ok. When crises happen, I can see cracks appear in my dharma armor. I fill them in with sleeping pills, pain killers, listlessness, and the subsequent degradations in my health. My well-adjusted friends ask “why do you do that to yourself?” They can’t understand how someone could do things that are harmful to themselves.

But not everyone has an innate love and respect for themselves. Look at every smoker, and everyone who has ever died of a drug overdose.

So instead of working on fixing my rage and depression issues, which I don’t know how to fix — or maybe can never truly fix, today I hope my dharma can carry me through this crisis by at least helping me work on being gentle and loving and forgiving and accepting of the entirety of this miserable me.

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Uncontrollable Rage, Depression, and the Dharma

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