I’ve only recently discovered I suffer from a debilitating condition known as miserable-face syndrome. If you saw me on the street, you would probably assume I’m unfriendly or just recently bereaved. This horrible affliction means I need to force myself to smile as much as possible – it’s no fun, I can tell you.
How Other People See Me
I think most of us would be at least a bit appalled if we could see ourselves as other people see us. I like to imagine myself as a friendly guy with a twinkle in his eye, but the reality is much different. I look miserable most of the time, and it is only getting worse as I get older. When I’m not smiling, it looks like I’m leading a funeral procession.
I’ve always had a problem hiding my feelings. Passive-aggression used to be my default tool for dealing with people who got on my bad side, but I have a dismal record with this technique because you only have to look at my face to tell I’m pissed off. This inability to hide my feelings probably explains my poor social skills.
Perhaps all of those years of expressing my emotions so visibly on my face has led to permanent deformity. All of that frowning has changed the muscle structure so my default facial expression is looking pissed off. Maybe this is all a nasty side-effect of listening so much to the likes of Nick Drake, Nirvana, the Pixies, the Smiths, and Joy Division.
I think looking a bit pissed off in your late-teens and early-twenties isn’t such a bad thing – it can make you appear edgy and mysterious. It’s only really in middle-age when miserable-face syndrome becomes a serious liability. I suppose it’s like listening to loud music – fantastic when you’re young but an unpleasant necessity as you get older.
Common Symptoms of Miserable-Face Syndrome
Miserable-face syndrome is particularly nasty because it can go undetected for so long. The problem is most other people are just going to assume you are miserable. Some of the most common warning signs you might be dealing with this condition would include:
• People offer you their condolences for no obvious reason
• Babies cry when they are brought near you
• You have a history of listening to music such as the Smiths, Nick Drake, Joy Division, etc.
• Your facial muscles start to ache or cramp if you smile for more than one minute
• Most people you meet seem to be in a bad mood (this is because they are reacting to your gloomy face)
How to Deal with Miserable-Face Syndrome
I’m not a doctor so you might want to get a medical check-up if you are not used to smiling. Here are my suggestions for dealing with miserable-face syndrome:
• Ask a trusted friend to secretly film you so you can judge the seriousness of your problem
• Practice smiling in front of the mirror – start off with 10 seconds and build up to longer durations of time
• Use a tablet or smart phone alarm app to remind you to regularly smile
• Listen to upbeat music
• Always speak positively to reassure people you meet you are not suicidal
I’m Not Miserable – I’m Just Resting My Facial Muscles
I do my best to smile as much as possible these days, but it is hard work – I just don’t have the facial muscles for it. If you do meet me one day, please don’t mistake my frown for a miserable existence – the most likely explanation is that I’m just resting my facial muscles.