When he could not, would not, or did not complete a task, frustration exacerbated his proverbial short fuse. Tony’s outbursts became more predictable – the slightest variation from his set routine or anything unexpected raised his level of anxiety to extreme. He thundered with exemplary sound and fury until spent, followed often by tears of remorse after I had collected the dog in my arms and left Tony ranting in the room alone.
My own disposition could be fiery as well, but I learned to let the upsets roll over me without reacting. None of the outbursts was personal or continuous, Tony simply let fly and cleared his own air.
Other mood swings were new and challenging to us both. If the mantle of his despair occasionally felt too heavy, Tony would speak of wanting to die, to kill himself, so he could end it all without taking me down too. Combinations of depression and frustration completely overwhelmed him, sometimes for several days.
During these periods, I learned to remind Tony of our happy times together, how his family loved him, and that we would muddle through together. I would touch his shoulder as I passed by, sometimes a hug if he wept, more often I sat next to him and held his hand.