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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Clinging on the career ladder after uni… and considering jumping

"The good old days"

University is something that so many people know that they are going to do after sixth form or college. It is regarded by many as the natural next step (at least before tuition fees went up by a million pounds!). 3-4 years at that point seems endless and usually people expect that during those years you will formulate a clear idea of what career you want to go into, if it has not already been decided. What I feel there isn’t enough warning of, is the fact that you may very well be left in your final year left floundering and uncertain as to where you want to go next and what you actually are able to do next. When degrees are not vocational ones like medicine, it’s a pretty difficult dilemma to find yourself in.

Before uni I had planned to become a criminal lawyer fighting for justice. After my first three months of studying law I drew the conclusion (please forgive me my cynicism) that law was really just about making money; criminal law being possibly the worst paying area of law, I was quickly deterred. Psychology had always fascinated me at A level and that had been the competing option before I had opted for a law degree.  It was this that I decided to change to after completing a rather wasted first year of law.

As psychology is such a broad subject I thought that my degree would slowly but surely guide me into my preferred area and that I would be suitably educated to progress to the next level of my chosen psychology career. Wrong! I won’t get into a rant over how poor I found the standards of my degree education (at least not in this entry) but to cut a long and irate story short, it was pretty crap. Fortunately for me, the year already spent at uni barely applying myself to law and living the uni dream, meant that I was more motivated by my third year at uni -and second year of psychology- to do some extra curricular things that were likely to look good on a CV and more importantly teach me a few important life lessons.

My best friend laughed at me and still laughs at me in retrospect, calling me “Suzy-High-School”: I was social and publicity secretary of the departmental society, putting on man auctions and Amsterdam trips, I was a peer mentor, mentor to a kid in social care and got involved in promoting the “Mental Wealth” organisation. I had a great old time and did indeed learn a lot. It was these activities that put me in good stead for employment. By my final year I was president of the society, student representative  and working as a marketing assistant (soon to be promoted to manager). Great CV. Great experience. However I’m sad to say that in the absence of clear educational guidance and perhaps some other factors, I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do after my degree.

So here I am now. Some would say in a much better boat than other recent graduates. I was offered full time employment as a marketing manager which allowed me to get a nice city pad and live the young professional dream. So what’s up? I have voiced my worries to my dad who, at the tender age of 62, tells me he is still searching for what he wants to do “when I’, growed up”. This, I must admit isn’t inspiring. I do not want to be a 62 year old, still discontent with my career.

Don’t get me wrong, I love marketing but I always thought I was destined for something a bit more “academic”. Not in a snobby way- I just did! And although I do enjoy my job, in that I love creating strategies to market the company and put them into action and get results, etc, etc I am not passionate about technology. Yet I struggle to identify what I am really passionate about, at least enough to commit myself to it for a career path. It is the commitment issue that is key here. I worry that once you go along one route, it is incredibly hard to extricate yourself from it for fear of having to start again. Now while the iron is hot and I’m not too tram lined in my work, I want to identify what my real passion is for so I can slightly adjust the tracks to head for a specific career.

It’s not just the anxiety that I put on myself when considering where I’m headed that throws me in this post-uni-life: It’s the lack of time. Oh how I miss the days when if you really didn’t want to, you didn’t have to get out of bed. Sunny day? Why not hit a beer garden?! There’s always the evening to catch up on your dissertation, unless of course you end up getting pissed and going out- there will be time to catch up. Now there is no time, which is particularly ironic as I remember saying to my friends “It will be so good when we don’t have uni work to worry about any more. The evenings and weekends will just be completely your own to relax and do what you like!” Pah. Poor old naive me. True there are weekends and evenings completely to yourself, but guess what? All you will want to do is catch up on sleep! And how many things are you required to do between the hours of 9-5 that you never realised before? Doctors, garage, bank, contacting the council, getting your hair cut, that much needed wax- the list goes on!

Perhaps the worst thing of life after uni, is the sudden lack of socialising. Personally, I am a very sociable person. I love people and company- perhaps slightly a product of early only-child neurosis- but nonetheless people make me happy. Now I remember worrying about this at a certain point whilst still at university. I started reading a book called Happiness by Matthieu Ricard and the message that I gathered is that happiness cannot rely on external factors. I understood and agreed and then I thought how?? 

I know what I love about myself and I do appreciate myself more than most people probably appreciate themselves. I am comfortable with me and I do love my own company, but what if there is no choice but your own company? Thinking you’re funny in the absence of other people laughing with you is not so enjoyable. Acknowledging you are a considerate, kind friend means little when its hard to apply that because no one is around. I was worried.  Maybe it just boils down to social confirmation, I don’t know, but what I do know is that having no friends around sucks!

In university you are in this little bubble where all your friends are in the same place, may even live with you, have the same social circles and schedules. After uni everyone leaves; either on to the next city, or even better travelling, or they go back home- which invariably is not near university. I have struggled with this adjustment the most. Safe to say, I still have not quite adjusted. My job means that the people I meet are generally not in my age bracket and have husbands or wives and kids- maybe even grandkids. As luck would have it, my friends that are still about are on completely different schedules due to their work (bar work, musicians, still at uni). To spell it out, it all feels rather lonely at times.

So how to I conclude, without leaving myself and readers completely depressed? All I can say is that I constantly battle to keep perspective. This is not it. I do not have to get stuck and I am not completely helpless! There are things I can do to give my life meaning- like write this blog! Or read a good book or take a walk and enjoy my own thoughts. I am not without friends and I am not without friends in the same boat. I have a steady income and I do still have lots of lovely times. I try to value what I have now and I try to realise that this doesn’t mean I am settling. I am young, I have options and as long as I remain me I will stay ambitious. Hopefully that should help me out some way.

I am certainly on the ladder, climbing steadily but I keep looking at other ladders to see if a.) I can make the jump and b.) if I really want to! I’m sure all will slowly become clear even if I end up taking a slide instead at some point.

The start of something beautiful, quite possibly emotional and definitely something a bit silly

If only life was always this blissful

Well hello there world wide web.

They always say the hard part is getting started. I couldn’t agree more at this moment in time. I have so many blogs that I want to share, but I am aware that I have to give my thought explosions some sort of introduction.

My intention is to create a running social commentary of life in general- although this will probably involve close social commentary of my life in particular. This is the main reason why I would prefer for the blog to remain largely anonymous. It is not that I wish to expose dark secrets of myself or others, yet as this blog will be fuelled by my personal experience and subjective thought it may be simpler to limit the explicit link to myself. Therefore I ask those of you who know who I am not to make this the main point of mention should you pass the blog on to others (which would very much flatter me).

I imagine that the running themes throughout my “social commentary” will be influenced by my various interests and preoccupations, namely (in no particular order): Psychology, relationships, travel, health, philosophy, fashion, literature, film, photography and marketing. I must hasten to add that I do not pretend to be an expert or connoisseur in any of the aforementioned- although I should probably attempt to assert my expertise in marketing as this is my current profession.

So… a bit more about me: I am what you may call a “young professional”, currently working in the technology industry as a marketing manager. I have recently taken to the city life, landing myself a somewhat chic pad in the citycentre and I must say, it suits me just fine for now. It was only 2 months ago that I graduated from the University of Leeds, achieving a first in psychology. Now I am slowly finding my way through the old weekly 9-5 routine, but I think it is this that has resulted in me starting this blog. I believe that it is this mini-monumental transition that has caused the eruption of thoughts and feelings which I find much harder to deal with and understand without writing them down. Somehow this helps the cognitive-emotional mist that sometimes envelops me, take a manageable form- which may even prove to be insightful! Who knows?!

What I can promise you is a maintenance of some sort of humour- sometimes dry and sardonic, sometimes dark but probably mostly unintentionally silly.

Hopefully all will become clear…ish

I hope you enjoy my writing and always welcome comment and feedbacks.

Lifepsyched