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This series by Eric Litwiller of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas looks at mental health in the Wichita area. It is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Commentary: Recognizing The Deeper Nature Of Anger

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Many of us throughout south central Kansas have felt increased levels of anger during the pandemic. Anger about politics. About masks. About the economy. And rightfully so. Anger is a valid emotion, but it is nonetheless a secondary emotion. Meaning that we feel anger only when we feel something else first. Fear. Embarrassment. Rejection. Guilt. The anger is displayed when we don’t know how to cope with these primary emotions, or when we want to protect ourselves from feeling them. 

As we move through the pandemic, and the new abnormal that it has brought, we would all do well to think about our own anger, and that of those we love. What are the primary needs that are unfulfilled, causing us to resort to this simplistic anger? What emotions are we truly feeling, and from which are we trying to protect ourselves? And most importantly, are we equipped to handle that anger on our own, or do we need professional medical assistance? 

Visiting a therapist doesn’t mean that we have a mental illness. It means simply that sometimes there are mental health issues for which we have not yet created the coping mechanisms that we need. Or that the coping mechanisms we have are not healthy or sufficient for the moment. The next time you feel anger, please recognize the deeper nature of it, and seek the help that we all sometimes need.

Resources and information on mental illness are at MHANational.org. KMUW’s mental health series is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Eric Litwiller is the director of development and communications at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.