Ask A Psychiatrist: Are You Addicted to Unhappiness?


My friend, Lilly, is a weird gal. I think she is suffering from some mental health disorder. She’s always wearing black, gray, or white, and loves to watch depressing movies. Lilly can’t stay in a relationship long enough, and her last boyfriend gave up on her, telling me that she’s a freak. Why is she a freak? Lilly is always sad and unhappy – it’s like her national anthem in life.


I Told My Shrink About Her Way Of Life.


When I told my psychiatrist about her, he said that there are indeed people who thrive on being unhappy. They are addicted to unhappiness. I know it sounds crazy, but he said that to me. I spoke about it with my therapist for I think three or four sessions. That’s how affected I was of my friend’s way of living. I understand “Happy people make healthier choices,” Scott Glassman, PsyD. once said. But hers is different in a lot of ways.


Why Are You Addicted To Unhappiness?


My therapist said that there are some reasons as to why Lilly was acting that way:


  1. It could be that Lilly has very low self-esteem. When she feels happy in life, she is conflicted about it. She will then look for unhappiness because her low self-worth bombards her with the idea that she doesn’t deserve a happy life. My psychiatrist also asked me if I knew Lilly’s parents. Come to think of it – I didn’t. She didn’t even mention much of them to me, and I didn’t push the talk. In Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D. blog, she says, “If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it is encouraged that you seek some type of help and support to work through this issue, and to help you be the best version of yourself that you can be.”


2. It could be that Lilly was brought up by overly strict parents who lined up unrealistic expectations. Of course, to get their love, Lilly would strive to accomplish them. But it’s more than difficult to achieve, and so Lilly would feel deprived of her parents’ love due to her failure in grasping their expectations. Anybody would be unhappy because of that kind of life.


3. The possibility of lifelong trauma can make Lilly an unhappy person. I don’t think that Lilly has experienced a string of traumatic events. She didn’t mention anything of that sort to me, but I know that she lost her Grandma when she was a teenager, and they were very close. Lilly said that she loved her Grandma very much and that losing her was like missing a part of herself. Could that be her traumatic life event? 


4. Guilt or regret is another way of making a person lead an unhappy life, according to my therapist. She always said that it was her fault that her Grandma died. If only she arrived at her house 5 minutes earlier, she said, she could have saved her. When I looked at the situation, Lilly’s statements were not possible. Her grandmother died an hour before she arrived, and Lilly was still in school. I kept telling her it’s not her fault. She just wouldn’t listen.


5. My friend always says that for every happy moment in her life, there is even more significant unhappiness to unfold soon. That’s her reason why she escapes being too joyous because there is an equivalent misery. When I told my psychiatrist about Lilly’s philosophy, he said that Lilly needs help immediately.


How Can I Help My Friend?


One day, I asked Lilly to join me in an online therapy session. She was hesitant at first, but I manipulated her into thinking that the talk will make her understand more about unhappiness. I’m not proud of misleading her like that, but how else can I help my friend?


It’s been two months since I did that and I learned that Lilly has been communicating with another therapist. I hope she gets her life back on track and that I get to meet the new Lilly soon. She may not feel worth it, but I know that my friend deserves to be happy. “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.” Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC expressed. 

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