This question has been on of the most difficult to encounter through all my problems and issues. It leads me on a merry goose chase to find some reason — any reason — why I might be feeling as I fell, and more often than not, I latch onto something correlated and trumpet that as the reason.
More often than not, it ends up blaming my wife.
More often than not, unjustly.
I meet the question all the time. It is one of the first my wife asks me when I am upset or anxious or sad. And the lack of a response is disconcerting. Can trigger an escalation for me on its own. It feels like there should be a reason, so when I can't produce one, something's clearly wrong with me.
And it kept re-surfacing during my psychiatrist interview last week. I had been talking to a psychologist for two meetings, going through things I felt, trying to describe — trying to even remember — what life is like outside the office we met in. Trying to capture the daily emotional crashes I'd had for months by that time. And then I meet the psychiatrist — who had read all the notes from these two preparatory meetings. I describe, over again, that I am getting emotional crashes, they come increasingly often. That I have a bipolar diagnosis and a treatment from about a decade ago, but I don't remember what they did (beyond giving me lamotrigin — back then it was experimental for mixed state bipolar), but that I want this to stop, somehow.
And the question comes: “But when you are upset, what is it you are upset about?”
And … I don't know. That, right there, is the clearest signal that there is something wrong with me that I can find. I get terribly upset. And I just don't know why. Had I known why, I could have tried to do something about it. If I knew that I am angry, or sad, or devastated, or afraid, of something in particular, I can tackle that source. Work on my scheduling if I know that it is stress. Ask colleagues for help if I am overworked. Figure out what the source is, and then do something about it. But that simply is not it.
I get upset. Sad. Angry. Afraid. Sometimes utterly terrified. And there is no reason. No causality. It just appears. And since I don't know why, nor from where, I can't see what I can do to prevent it.