‘Misery Moaning’ About Parkinson’s Disease Does No Good

It's not easy, but this columnist is committed to practicing positive self-talk

Dr. C avatar

by Dr. C |

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I wouldn’t mind having a chronic illness if I didn’t have to feel sick all the time. But there is no good reason everyone around me must endure my complaints.

Negative self-talk is what I call “misery moaning.” Moaning and complaining about misery consumes otherwise productive hours in a day. It drains energy from the well of resources. These are resources I need to practice the toolkit. Brain rewiring needs time.

According to Loganholme Psychologist and Counseling Center, research from Stanford University has also found that “engaging in complaining or simply hearing someone complain for more than 30 minutes could physically damage our brains.”

Additionally, “The more frequently you complain, you increase your likelihood of thinking negative thoughts later. In neuroscience, the phrase ‘synapses that fire together wire together’ is used to explain this concept.”

Psychologist Wendy Rice, of the Rice Psychology Group, citing fellow psychologist Robin Kowalski, notes that “complaining without a real purpose doesn’t encourage happiness. In fact, this ‘expressive’ complaining causes people to focus more on their issues and can often be destructive. It can potentially push friends and family away, lead to additional anxiety, and even cause physical problems.”

What is behind “misery moaning”? Frustration? Anger? Pervasive thoughts of “why me?”

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Let me say that I’m not reticent about describing my Parkinson’s disease, as healthy communication is good for all. This is particularly true of new ailments or abnormal changes in my long-standing symptoms, which seem like a lengthy list sometimes. But even then, the dialogue is factual, informative (I hope), and not maudlin.

It is not easy to hold misery so close and guard it so tightly that it doesn’t spill out and contaminate all those who genuinely wish to help.

Mrs. Dr. C manages the home and office and is the main communication contact through which I converse with the world. The virtual world requires more CAPTCHAs (those murky photos from which I cannot discern the unique contents to prove I’m a human). There is also second-line verification required to provide another level of code to access every website. Don’t ask if I can finger my way through the websites and code inserts. It falls to Mrs. Dr. C to be that contact in my stead — my eyes and fingers.

This allows me the time to contemplate and write. The least I can do in return is keep “miserable moaning” tucked away and out of harm’s way. So what if these tasks fall to Mrs. Dr. C? I can be gracious and thank her and continue to work on not complaining.

I can work on positive self-talk by knowing my biological cycles with Parkinson’s. I can know that “this too shall pass.”

Misery and relief

Explaining it as just fight-or-flight response doesn’t do justice to the interwoven relationship between misery and grasping for its relief. The misery demands our attention, and we respond with grasping (or clenching with defense).

Still, wouldn’t it be nice if I could take my misery to someone who could make it all go away? I’m not talking about love or a friendship. I’m talking about that voracious craving to be cuddled out of misery, if only for a few minutes.

The response is a normal part of our nature. Acting it out as “miserable moaning” is destructive to well-being — for us and those around us.

It’s a choice that I practice. I choose not to listen to misery. I choose not to follow my cravings and the urge to grasp for anything to help me feel better.

Instead, I have made a sacred promise to my God and my partner to do everything possible, every day, to limit the effects of misery in our lives. I will endeavor to bring sacredness into my life as often as I can.

I think the shift from misery to sacredness starts with faith and a fierce determination. It is a perspective that both Mrs. Dr. C and I use to help us manage this obviously miserable chronic illness. Sacredness steers intention in a way that benefits Parkinson’s self-management.

We are not entitled to a good life without suffering. Instead, we must create that life for ourselves and fill it with serenity.

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Ana Maria Tamayo avatar

Ana Maria Tamayo

My dear Dr C. thanks so much for your note.
We appreciate it so much!

Ana María and Ray
Celt-Inkas trying to live well with PD too.

pd I treasure your words:

...."Instead, I have made a sacred promise to my God and my partner to do everything possible, every day, to limit the effects of misery in our lives. I will endeavor to bring sacredness into my life as often as I can.

We are not entitled to a good life without suffering. Instead, we must create that life for ourselves and fill it with serenity".

Mike avatar


Dr. C,
It is so easy to get stuck on a ‘pity pot’, we all have the best excuse but I owe it to my great wife to constantly engage in the struggle.
I believe in exercise that gives me symptom relief and that is all I can expect. Self-pity causes me depression but seeing my Tulips grow this spring gives me hope. Dr. C you have helped me recognize that. I have been taking Neuralli for close to 3 months now. It helps my walking and lately it has been good for my attitude as well. Jesus has blessed me. My Brain Rewiring is fairly constant now.
Thank-you Ana for your positive words. We are definitely all in it together. Thank you Dr. C for your insights, Blessings, Mike

Baron Lane avatar

Baron Lane

Well said. Thank you for your views.

K.R. Zack Earp avatar

K.R. Zack Earp

Thank you Dr. C. I appreciate your comments on "Misery Moaning". Your comments were a positive reinforcement for my Journey with Parkinson's. Trying to acknowledge my PD but to maintain my "refuse to lose & adjust, adapt and find a way to make it work" attitude is not as easy as people think it is for me. Without my faith in God and Marine Corps learned fierce determination, this Journey would be much more difficult for me, my family and my friends. I find no meaning or help in what you describe as "Misery Moaning". The Journey does not have to be all doom & gloom for the "Parkie". It does take hard work to have a more positive attitude, because you have to actively work to find a positive to replace the misery & moaning.

Donald Gale Dowd avatar

Donald Gale Dowd

I most heartedly agree with Dr.C’s sentiments in managing the symptoms of PD as best one is able.I was diagnosed as having the disease in 2010. I was 74 years old and had retired 2 years earlier from a life- long career as an architectural designer so some of the symptoms would become difficult to accept / my ability to draw, print / letter and write legibly was disappearing. Of course the more debilitating disease knowns were happening at the same time. With the help of a nutritionist and life-partner / wife / care-giver we have managed as best possible the life-altering effects of P.D. I believe a positive attitude as well as a strict adherence to food choices, meal preparation, medications and set times are part of my daily ritual.

Sherry Tallent avatar

Sherry Tallent

I’m so blessed in that I can get out of bed everyday and still have an excellent cognitive function. I want to do everything possible to help others for aren’t as fortunate. God is good.

Barbara Ebert avatar

Barbara Ebert

Thank you for writing this. It was just what I needed but didn’t inow it.

Hugh in Eugene avatar

Hugh in Eugene

For those of us who do not believe in the Jesus story, nor any other religious legends, this type of good news story is not good news.
A positive attitude is possible without belief in fairy tales; it is maybe just a little tougher.

Kate Ray avatar

Kate Ray

Greetings. Agree wholeheartedly with Hugh in Eugene. I appreciate the article and sentiments. BUT, not everyone has blind faith in a higher being ("fairy tales" in Hugh's words), and even if one is "spiritual" in some sense, daily positivity is a tough go. Especially if you live alone without a significant other or family. I am 71 years old part-time caregiver for my brother who is 64 years old w Parkinsons. My husband and I live 1/2 mile from him( I moved him 120 miles to live closer) . My brother is well into 5th year after Dx, and is one of the unlucky ones whose disease has progressed rapidly. He also is pending critical cervical surgery soon(severe osteoarthritis and arthritis rampant in neck and body), as well as longstanding mental health issues (anxiety, depression, PTSD). He is a retired police officer and was very athletic, played hockey, etc. at one time. His quality of life has deteriorated greatly. My own generosity, kindness, positivity, attempts at humor do not make much difference, often just frustrating him. He lives in constant pain, no sleep, unable to find comfort sitting or reclining in any position. I DO personally believe a positive attitude can offer benefits, but if a person is suffering -- in agony of body & mind, any real attempt at positivity for one who is so tormented, -- it is a far reach for the Parkinsons person , and wishful thinking for those who love and care (and care-give).


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