Most people understand anger, or at least what it is supposed to imply. I mean, we can search through our lives and find hundreds–thousands and thousands of incidents that have set us off, and caused us to give in to irrational sorts of rage. We get angry all the time: offended, disappointed, disgusted with words and behaviors, and finally frustrated with all of humanity. I would like to set this piece apart from most of my other broad and generalizing commentaries about when and how and, most importantly, why people hold certain beliefs,, and instead offer a grim, personal sample of what has caused me a lifetime of disappointment. I will never again (at least here, on Recording Editorial History, get quite so deeply into my diminished and rotten soul for the benefit of my slight audience, but I have a whole new crowd to offer myself to. Twitter being the soulless entity that it is, has lately diminished what I am working pretty hard to restore and, eventually, hopefully, improve my audience) come so near to stating who I actually am, giving you an uncomfortably close-to-home examination of my own depressing frustration and how, sometimes, I don’t even bother to fight it.
Plenty of people are depressed, regardless of whether some psychiatrist working for a drug company, on commission, has diagnosed you or not. Many of us doubt the proclamations of mental health diagnostic specialists, and there are plenty of valid reasons for this. If you choose to look back over my essays you would find another terribly personal commentary called “Can You Live With a Brain Injury?” from 12/16/2018. There you would find a serious discussion of my own troubles with illnesses like these, as well as a serious injury I suffered.
Oftentimes people are given a medical excuse for their foul behaviors. It offers the freedom to be a selfish asshole all the time, declaring, I guess, that you’re sick, or that your medicine no longer works. (On the other side, there is quite a bit of legitimacy to the consequences of mental illness. See the profound and beautiful Darkness Visible, by William Styron https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780679736394&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used).
After the brain injury, described in the earlier essay, I was a confused, angry, irrationally frustrated man who had nearly lost the idea of myself. The swaggering self-confidence that used to irritate people was gone, and I was now in possession of shivering self-doubt, causing me to question everything I once thought valuable about myself. I was extremely self-destructive, if not actually suicidal in my daring. The doctors I saw (and listen to this line-up): neurologists, psycho and psychiatric ologists, neuro-psychologists, physical therapists, memory specialists, cognitive therapists; the eventual hypnotherapists and required (to keep myself out of the hospital) group session psychological seminars–nearly all of these were shams. The doctors were either drug pushers, or so severely fucked up themselves that you would sometimes question which of you was the patient.
One of the psychiatrists I formerly saw would make you sit in a chair for ten to fifteen minutes, insisting on the confessions of your abnormal perversions, like a priest masturbating in the confessional. Then he dangled a script for something hallucinogenic before you, just out of politeness’s reach, wanting you to beg for it, scratching yourself with a junkie’s itch.
As I grew accustomed to my new life, these problems seemed to spread. I could no longer work at my job because I could not remember what I was doing the day before (to state again, for anyone on a first reading–welcome!–I was a high school English teacher, and I could not even remember most of the student’s names). I stayed out the five months remaining of the school year, and then I retired at the age of 41. I received a disability pension from work and, eventually, began receiving social security checks. I had enough money coming in to modestly survive, but there was no sense of ambition or purpose left in my life, every dream I had ever had irreparably shattered.
At the time of the injury my children were too young to honestly get to know me. As they have gotten older, the only person they can recognize as their father is a confused, frustrated, and angry man, ranting my actual opinions (as opposed to the games I sometimes play on here as an objective escape) about issues which, most of the time, they do not care about. I sometimes forget the punishments handed out, or to pick them up from school, and I reign as a parent with an inconsistency that can sometimes label me a terrible father.
I have become a terrible husband too, often staying up all night because of the suffocating nightmares I have, which jar me awake when I can sleep, struggling for breath. I often behave with such self-pity that my wife, herself, grows frustrated, her years of support and caring having diminished as she continues trying to keep our family together. And I sit in a room, and write these depressing, end-of-the-world commentaries, and other, smaller apocalypses to vent my unhappiness. It is all borne out of frustration, from the conviction I learned from doctors, and from recent experience proving me (only to me) incapable of doing anything.
Now of course this isn’t entirely true. Yes, I am certainly limited in my abilities to accomplish many multi-step tasks, and I make mistakes all the time. I am no longer able to drive, other than short distances. My sense of isolation has advanced to where my dog has become–literally–my best and only friend. She is the only one that remains, I believe, happy to see me. This is all my perception, and belief does eventually become your reality.
Frustration causes all of our negative emotions. Beyond anger, frustration forms hatred, misery, hopelessness, suicidal inclinations, self-destructive paranoia, and anything else that gives you the impression you are not in control of your life. Frustrated people will argue about anything, desperate to prove themselves right about anything. It does not matter how small, how irrelevant, if they could only convince someone of their version of the truth, somehow this is deemed a start on the road back to humanity.
I have only given one example–and an incomplete one at that–of the external results of frustration. No one is fun, or pleasant, certainly not hopeful, when they do not believe they are in control of their lives. But inside, physically, the terminal impact of this boiling rage can, and eventually will, kill you. Heart attacks, stroke, simply declining through years of high blood pressure and heart palpitations, all of these ills impact your attention, your passions, your relationships–even your ability to brood.
Frustration makes you into an asshole. I admit it, I will admit it. I am an asshole, a truly miserable prick, and will so remain until finally–finally!–things momentarily start going my way.