Why am I so grumpy today?!
March 3, 2009 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Why is everything pissing me off today? Well, almost, everything!

I'm about to flip. As of last night, almost everything has been pissing me off. While trying to replace a makeshift heat curtain over some leaky windows in my apartment, I got testy on the phone with my father, and broke a set of window blinds after the damn thing fell off again. That's, I guess, when it started, but I figured it was just fatigue, as I'd slept very poorly the previous night.

I got plenty of sleep last night, and I'm still pissed at minor things. I'm pissed at the delays on the trolley this morning, pissed at the interruptions at work, pissed at the sound of the window cleaner raising and lowering the blinds, pissed at the banal emails I'm getting. Pissed at the slow service at Dunkin' Donuts, and the customers who don't know how to move out of the way... the guy sitting behind me snorting his snot... the guy who sits next to me's voice... everything is a stressor this morning, except my IM with my girlfriend.

This is very unusual for me. While I get angry like every other person, I'm usually pretty slow to rage. Most stuff bugs me for only the time it takes to deal with it. I can't figure out what's causing this, or how to stop it. Please help...
posted by SansPoint to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have any medical conditions that might lead to low blood sugar? I have diabetes, and this type of irrational anger is often a sign my blood sugar is either lower than usual, or just decreasing rapidly. Aside from that, too much caffeine seems to have this effect as well.
posted by FishBike at 7:50 AM on March 3, 2009

Get thee to a gym, squat heavy for an hour, vomit, shower, feel better.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:54 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Look at this. You'll feel better.
posted by netbros at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2009 [22 favorites]

Usual factors for me are being tired, or my eating patterns being "off" i.e. low blood sugar, but just unacknowledged stress factors will do it too. Fatigue can frequently hit the next day rather than the day of.


1. eat

2. take a mental health break for 10 minutes in a quiet place - perhaps this will help: http://www.simplynoise.com/

3. Identify stress factors

4. exercise
posted by idb at 7:56 AM on March 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh, man, I hope we don't run into each other today because we'd probably throw down. In this brief morning I have already trampled another commuter (completely her fault for not getting the fuck outta the way) and talked myself out of telling my coworker to shut the hell up. This happened just after I simmered myself down regarding my condo association's fucking preposterous methods of dealing with tenants.

I dunno. Sometimes it appears to be chemical/sleep oriented (either depression or fatigue), but sometimes it's more deeply rooted than that. Sometimes there is a slow percolation of dissatisfaction with life and then the proverbial straw/camel's back thing happens and one small thing knocks you over the edge.

So, as to why: who knows. Fatigue. General malaise with life. Depression.

As to what to do: stay away from people. Just be forward with people, along the lines of, "I'm not feeling so great today, kinda need to be left alone." People get that.
posted by December at 7:58 AM on March 3, 2009

Before I checked your profile, I was going to suggest PMS. Seriously, what you're describing is very similar to the consensus my friends and I have reached on the experience of PMS. Irrational anger that comes out of nowhere, usually accompanied by a wave of dumb dumb dumb actions (locking keys in apartment, spacing on appointments) that only adds to the anger and frustration. That, and a compelling need for brownies right.the.fuck.now.

Since you're a dude, this explanation is... improbable. I'm going to guess it's the remainders of the awful weather the Eastern seaboard experienced yesterday, and the cold. It's March, we should be getting towards spring, and we're not, and that could make anyone pissy.

On the bright side, now you have a pretty good idea of what PMS is like. Use this knowledge wisely, grasshopper.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:59 AM on March 3, 2009 [10 favorites]

Welcome to what we women folk go through every month.
Who knows why you feel so irritated. But surefire cure: loud, angry music on the iPod and an hour long pounding run. Sweat it out.
posted by meerkatty at 8:03 AM on March 3, 2009

Do you have any medical conditions that might lead to low blood sugar?
Well, my dad's got Hypoglycemia, but that manifests differently.

As to what to do: stay away from people. Just be forward with people, along the lines of, "I'm not feeling so great today, kinda need to be left alone." People get that.
The nature of my job makes that a non-option.

Sometimes there is a slow percolation of dissatisfaction with life and then the proverbial straw/camel's back thing happens and one small thing knocks you over the edge.
That seems more likely... doesn't explain punching out my window blinds, though.
posted by SansPoint at 8:04 AM on March 3, 2009

Now you understand how I live!

Never attribute to malice what can be attributed to incompetence. Find a way to detach yourself from it - feel contempt toward these people, but prioritize your needs in your thinking.
posted by kldickson at 8:05 AM on March 3, 2009

I'm that way today - but it's because of hayfever.

Perhaps there is some low level of illness that is making you feel this way?
posted by gomichild at 8:11 AM on March 3, 2009

Along the same lines as minor illness and PMS, with irritation accompanied usually by a feeling of disconnection: are you constipated? Not really a question looking for a written answer!
posted by carbide at 8:18 AM on March 3, 2009

Eat a well balanced meal, making sure to not go heavy on the carbs. Just basically go 1/3 carbs, fat and protein. You may not normally be affected by high carb meals, but speaking for myself, if I'm feeling pissy and go for so-called comfort foods, I end up feeling even more miserable in about 20 minutes.

And/or take a long walk at lunch.

And try to remember (or at least convince yourself) that the world ISN'T out to get you today. Everyone is out there just being their usual annoying selves, but today you are noticing it more.

When you are done with work, de-stress. Another nice meal, a glass or two of wine/beer/etc., and do something pleasurable. Watch a movie. The bullshit can wait till tomorrow, put it out of mind. Go to sleep early and commit to sleeping well and waking up feeling better. (If some "thing" is bugging you, write it down on a piece of paper and promise yourself to worry about it later. Deal with it tomorrow.)
posted by gjc at 8:20 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Lots of things can affect mood. It could be blood sugar. Perhaps your body is fighting a virus. Perhaps you have a sleep disorder. Normally you can just sleep it off. I wouldnt be worried unless it persists more than a few days.

That's, I guess, when it started, but I figured it was just fatigue, as I'd slept very poorly the previous night.

You may have a sleep debt. It takes several nights to catch up. One isnt enough.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:25 AM on March 3, 2009

sometimes the world aligns just to piss you off and make you miserable.

watch the piglet video that netbros recommended - it's the cutest thing I have ever seen. That and actually focus on having a better attitude as well as eating a healthy lunch and drinking a lot of water. Weather permitting, try to do something outside today after work.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 8:26 AM on March 3, 2009

A physical condition is much more convenient but maybe there is actually something bothering you and you can't admit it to yourself? Any stressful event lately that you dismissed but that could be nagging you in the background?

Anyway, whenever I have some kind of irrational stress response I find that reading Chesterton helps:

And most of the inconveniences that make men swear or women cry are really sentimental or imaginative inconveniences—things altogether of the mind. For instance, we often hear grown-up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No; for to him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder and a palace of poetical pleasures. Because to him the red light and the green light on the signal are like a new sun and a new moon. Because to him when the wooden arm of the signal falls down suddenly, it is as if a great king had thrown down his staff as a signal and started a shrieking tournament of trains. I myself am of little boys’ habit in this matter. They also serve who only stand and wait for the two fifteen. Their meditations may be full of rich and fruitful things. Many of the most purple hours of my life have been passed at Clapham Junction, which is now, I suppose, under water. I have been there in many moods so fixed and mystical that the water might well have come up to my waist before I noticed it particularly. But in the case of all such annoyances, as I have said, everything depends upon the emotional point of view. and so on.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 8:27 AM on March 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

Sometimes things just piss us off. Individually the things aren't that big, but they all come at once and it just gets overwhelming and stupid and frustrating and...and because they're individually too stupid we feel stupid for fretting, but it's just grAAAAAWWWWW! ...Someone I know calls this a day when it feels you're being "pecked to death by ducks".

My bet is that that's why you got into this state -- it's a duck day, is all.

The best way I've found to get out of bad moods is kind of a zen thing -- accept and own up to the fact that you are IN a bad mood rather than trying to get out of it. I'd wager you're trying to hard to "get over it", to avoid admitting that this is bothering you, that it's just making it worse, and that if you just throw up your hands and say, "okay, that's it, TODAY JUST SUCKS!" and just let yourself be in that state for a while, it'll pass, because you've let that agita come out and have its say.

That's how it works for me, anyway. I also find that really exaggerating my mood to comedic effect works too - you know how when you're telling a story sometimes to someone at a bar, the kind of "oh, man, you wouldn't BELEIEVE what today was like", and it just gets worse and worse and worse that somehow it starts being really funny because of how outrageous it is? Try and see if you can spin your day into that -- see if you can just go over-the-top with it, as if you were trying to win a "whose day sucked the most" contest. At some point it will start sounding funny, I bet. (Dude, you punched a window blind. That's actually kind of comedy gold, there.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on March 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Did you just quit smoking? This sounds exactly like how that feels for me, and it took me an stupidly long time to recognize the correlation.
posted by squarehead at 8:34 AM on March 3, 2009

I often get like this. I'm VERY easily irritated sometimes. I'm very sensitive to noise, especially, but I also hate feeling crowded or delays or little time-delaying accidents and incidents. This morning on the subway I had to stand near a woman (she probably had mental health issues) who kept loudly yapping non-stop to herself about nothing and making random comments to the people near her. It was all I could do to keep from telling her to SHUT UP.

Pleasant distractions are your friend at these moments. Remove yourself from the irritation if you can. Take a ten minute break and go outside for a walk if you can. Or, if those things are impossible, take deep breaths and get your mind onto something pleasant and absorbing, such as planning for a summer vacation.
posted by orange swan at 8:49 AM on March 3, 2009

I have hypoglycemia and this doesn't sound like that. Once I eat I'm fine. You are eating, aren't you? Also, have you hit your head recently?

This does sound like what happens when I take Ambien or my electrolytes are off - irrational anger about the stupidest things. It's good you've recognized the problem. That's usually the hard part.

Have some gatorade just in case your electrolytes are off. Of the few times I've had this anger and it hasn't been any meds, my blood sugar, electrolytes, etc. I've gone for a very long and fast "come back nearly dead" run. That works for me, at least.

Also, consider setting a date/time to see a doc. It's fine wondering how to fix this with some strangers on the Internet but if this is something more I'd like you to get help sooner rather than later.
posted by jwells at 8:54 AM on March 3, 2009

How to deal? Spend a few minutes breathing consciously, and repeating a positive phrase, like "It's going to be okay." If you have to be nice to humans, be extra nice, say Hello and How are you? and smile a lot. It stops them being pissy to you, and it may reorient your brain. I find it helps to remember that there are people who live in miserable filth, with no clean water to drink, and I'm able to be civil. It's a pollyanna thing, but it's effective.
posted by theora55 at 8:55 AM on March 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

You say your job doesn't allow for staying away from people--do you think maybe you're in need of some alone time? I myself get very grouchy if I don't get a good chunk of alone time every week--like at least one whole day without having to see anyone. That's probably more than most people need, but if I had the kind of job it sounds like you have, where face time is a big part of it, I'd probably have to forgo most social life stuff in order to have the energy to be at work without being super grouchy.

Also, this time of year sometimes I get grouchy because the weather is a bummer and I've waited too long to take a vacation. Do you maybe need a vacation? A night of sound sleep is wonderful, but it's nothing like a few days of freedom, somewhere that you can spend some time outside.
posted by lampoil at 10:38 AM on March 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Probably not your reason but my boyfriend gets incredibly irritable when he takes one of the over the counter allergy medications. If you're taking anything check if irritability is a side effect - the allergy medication only lists it for toddlers which he and I found hysterical.

I find that putting on ear phones and either listening to music or just having a small sound barrier between me and the rest of the world can be useful. Sometimes writing it all down in an email (or an AskMetafilter question) helps to diffuse the immediate desire to smack people upside the head.

I've found in the past that telling people at work not to mess with me doesn't always work out so well. Some see it as an invitation to mess with you. I'm not fond of those people.

I agree with the advice to eat well and get some exercise.

Good luck. Getting into one of these moods is incredibly frustrating especially when you can't just hide away for a while to recover.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:56 AM on March 3, 2009

Look at this. You'll feel better.

And if that doesn't work, try this.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2009

Go buy a handful of cookies or another carby treat, maybe a carby caffienated drink (I grab a Coke) and eat them while you walk around the block. Make your walk as bouncy as you feel comfortable doing, and whistle or sing to yourself. Try to let the sun shine into your eyes if possible.
Feel better! Days like that happen to me, too, and they suck.
But cookies + singing + bouncy strut + sunshine is pretty much foolproof.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:29 PM on March 3, 2009

Has anything changed in your diet or medications?

Maybe mold around the windows/curtains released molds triggering some allergic irritability

Maybe this psychological viewpoint will help:

Can you think of anything that would satisfy some desire you have right now that is not being satisfied? In other words, is there something you are frustrated by that you wish you could (or should) make different?

I used to be pretty high strung, easily irritated and very impatient with others as you describe. I've done a lot of practice (of many of the things posted above) and my general, day-to-day tolerance level is way better than it used to be.

But when I am late for any appointment, I find that I'm magically transported back to the old intolerance and irritability. Nothing has changed on the outside; on the inside, I feel like I must go back in time and fix this so that I'm not late. Soon after I arrive, it usually goes away and doesn't come back, unless I make myself late again. The incurable frustration evokes this angry, impatient mode again, which probably points to a deeper frustration that I haven't resolved yet.

Maybe something like that came up in the frustrating curtain experience.
posted by buzzv at 1:18 PM on March 3, 2009

Change your car's licence plate from D-FENS to something else?

Seriously, change something about your day's routine. Perhaps in that change, you will find the peace (or at least, a smaller amount of pissed-offedness) that you are looking for.
posted by flutable at 3:40 AM on March 5, 2009

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