Psychology Magazine

Misery Loathes Company

By Lifepsyched @LifePsyched
Misery loathes company

Misery loathes company... with the exception of a cat

It is true that people love to moan but that isn’t necessarily them being miserable. Quite the contrary in fact; there is something rather cheering about moaning on occasion to one’s peers. “What is with this weather?”, “Aren’t our lecturers shit?!”, “If I have to hear about the recession one more time!…” etc, etc. Moaning is, to all intensive purposes, therapeutic. The mere proclamation of how crap something is, is satisfying providing a feeling that is qualitatively different to any other. The reward produced by moaning is much more accessible than a reward gained by praising someone/thing- and even then the reward doesn’t necessarily come from the expression of praise, but more the feeling generated directly by the object of praise.

Misery, however, is not so jolly (forgive my stating of the obvious). Misery is so aptly communicated in the very word itself and leaves little need for synonyms. I found myself this past week in a very miserable state indeed. It all arose because of my current health predicament which is ever unpredictable, and positively crippling at times. So it was that I was in a great deal of discomfort and pain, wondering why this had occurred and when I would even begin to see an end in sight. I have already covered the whole feeling of despair and desolation and do not intend to dwell on this again. What I have become more interested in is my mental tendencies when I am oh so miserable. I have come to closely monitor these tendencies and attempted to explore and overcome them in solitary “self-psychoanalysis”.

Tendency 1: Self Deprecate

This is a funny tendency because when I’m not miserable, I really am rather impressed with myself, discounting those natural periods of uncertainty and the odd wobble! However, this dirty and altogether unconstructive tendency slowly rears its cruel and spiteful head as I bury mine deeper into the tear-stained pillow (or blanket or scarf - these days, whatever’s handy!). It’s that niggle telling me that I’m weak for not coping, I’m a fraud for boasting about how resilient I usually am, a hypocrite for dismissing other peoples’ problems in the past. The truth is, it’s pretty fucking hard to cope recently, I don’t boast about my resilience, merely comment on past triumphs over trauma and I haven’t really been dismissive of people who quite clearly are struggling, just those who are being pathetic. Nevertheless, in the moment of misery, I like to pile it all on!

My best friend has said to me that she has also been guilty of “emotional cutting” and that there is really no good in doing it and that I should just stop it! Obviously she is right, but I am increasingly having my suspicions that there is a part of me that likes to kick me when I’m down. It’s on my to-do list to put that part of me in its place. Will keep you posted.

Tendency 2: Get Angry

This can come either before or after the self-depreciation. If it’s before, it usually then neatly follows that I think I’m a horrible person for getting angry/ a mental person/ both. If it is afterwards,boy am I angry. I often think that if I was a male I would be one of those testosterone twats that go around thumping things. So intense is my anger that I do feel that I have to physically release it somehow. Fortunately for my furnishings and those close to me, it is usually just expressed in a howl of anguish. Sometimes that helps.

Why do I get angry? It can be the whole “why me?” martyr routine, but I rarely tolerate that because even in my own head filled with the roaring of anger and sadness, it sounds pathetic and very narcissistic. More frequently, it is the undefinable anger that has no cognition behind it, just this whole overwhelming and physically consuming emotional impact. It serves no purpose and usually it is fleeting, although it has been known to linger a little. My anger then peters out to be replaced by the next tendency.

Tendency 3: Guilt

This is such a hard emotion to feel for several reasons, one being that it conflicts with a stubborn part of me that thinks “Why the hell should I feel guilty?!”. I also find this emotion a much harder one to overcome through internally talking myself through things. There is an obstinate certainty that will not be shifted through inward reasoning that asserts that I should be sorry for my behaviour, my thoughts, my feelings. Sometimes, it may be a little accurate by illuminating something which I have overlooked in my haze of misery tendencies. I frequently find myself apologising to my boyfriend for being unwell, for crying, for not being able to be more fun. I genuinely do feel guilty for all of these things.

He is wonderful and reassures me that it’s not my fault and that everything will be ok. And then I feel guilty for feeling like I’m being needy for wanting reassurance, even though I apologised without that motive at all. And thus the guilt cycle follows.

Tendency 4: Run Away

This is by far my most strongest and recurring urge, driven in part by the force of all of the other tendencies. It is borne from a couple of instrumental factors; the first is that I have always been fiercely independent and only really cried out for help when things have gotten really bad. I am used to being able to get a grip of myself, look my problem in the face and fight it with words, determination and a renewed outlook. It therefore unsettles me a great deal when I am not so successful at this and people see me as I usually appear only to myself and on rare occasions a few other unprivileged spectators: Messy and shaken. I get such powerful urges to retreat away into myself until I can grasp a better handle of my own feeble state.

The second instrumental factor runs parallel with the first. I have always been able to communicate rather well, whether through confrontations, conversations, written word or action, when I have a problem I can generally outline it effectively to those around me (where appropriate of course!). Yet when I am battered from a constant cascade of tears that continually and torrentially fall, weak from the accompanying sore and heavy head, exhausted from the illness, the worry and those tears of misery, the words don’t come. The breath is there, but it comes as nothing but a pre-empt to yet more tears and then there is no more energy. And it is not just that. In the continual tirade of worry, anxiety, internal turmoil there is barely room to formulate what it is that you would say if you could. So I find myself curled in a foetal ball, waiting for it to subside so that I can once again speak clearly.

I’m hoping that by directly addressing these tendencies in written form, no less, I may be more equipt to overcome them as and when they may next occur. Clearly it would be easier if circumstances did not arise as frequently as to allow these emotional daemons to rise, however life is not always that relenting and the best I can do is saddle myself up for the ride.

I’ll never love company when I’m miserable but hopefully I won’t loathe it so much.


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