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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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Let’s talk loneliness

It has been talked about on TV quite a bit lately and classed as a health hazard; even being compared to causing similar physical damage to that of a smoker of fifteen cigarettes a day when considering it as a risk factor for early death.

It’s hard to believe in some respects, but loneliness is causing us harm. And too many people are embarrassed to talk about it, therefore they do not get help. This simply must change.

I have suffered quite a lot of loneliness, mainly because of mental health issues of the past – there’s nothing like being surrounded by people who do not understand you, who cannot empathise with you and who judge you because you don’t think and feel the same as them, and have a ‘mental illness’. But, surround yourself with people who do care, who do try to understand, and who can empathise with and support you, and you may well suffer with little or no loneliness.

The same goes for elderly people, who are just seen as ‘old, boring, ill…’ Without kindness and support, it could be the difference between them wishing their lives away and living a good life.

There are so many reasons for people feeling lonely though, affecting:

  • People who have just moved to a new area by themselves, for work or other reasons
  • People suffering a lot of pain
  • People who live in very busy areas where it’s difficult to meet people
  • People who have just gone through a relationship breakup, and suddenly find themselves alone
  • Children starting a new school
  • People and children who are bullied, abused, controlled, whether inside or outside of the home.
  • Housewives
  • People who are homeless
  • New mothers, who spend most of their time away from adult contact, alone with their babies.
  • People who are excluded by others’ whether in a circle of friends, at work, or in the family.
  • People who have experienced a loss or death of a significant other, including beloved pets.
  • People whose children leave home ‘empty nest syndrome’
  • People who have just retired – not used to having all the spare time or being with their partners as much.
  • People who have lost their job
  • People who live with someone they don’t get on with or unhappy relationship
  • Carers (personal to a family member for example)
  • People in poor health
  • People affected by a loss of mobility
  • People who have been through a traumatic event
  • People with addiction – whether to food, alcohol, drugs or other, it can lead to loneliness and the loneliness can lead back to the addiction – to eat more, drink more, take more drugs…

And so many more reasons…

Some are social loneliness and some are because a person is missing someone they loved.

It’s quite shocking to learn that such a big percentage of people who live surrounded by others can feel lonely but it’s true.

It can also be a vicious cycle of loneliness = isolation = loneliness, but it can also bring with it sadness, lethargy, feeling unimportant in the world, and other feelings that can be compared with depression. It is possible it could lead to depression as well. I have suffered with both, and have experienced the links. Mental health issues can be isolating.

I am glad to hear that there are more and more charities and organisations out there that are there to support people with loneliness. The Silver Line, for example may phone a lonely elderly person once a week and that can make a lot of difference when they are sitting at home with no-one to talk to, winding away the hours and days. Just to hear a friendly voice – someone who is interested in them – must make them feel a little more wanted.

Feeling lonely can stop a person from doing anything about their loneliness, but a little encouragement in the right direction could make all the difference. And if a person is house bound or severely disabled, then there’s the internet and phone and the possibility of home visits…

  • Social events
  • Dating
  • Facebook/twitter/social media
  • College
  • Writing groups, or art or any other groups that meet each week with an interest in common
  • Walking groups
  • Gym or exercise classes
  • Singles holidays
  • Volunteering
  • Counselling
  • An organisation that offers a telephone support service
  • Running clubs
  • Horse riding, sports and any other activities or hobbies
  • Looking after pets

Do you feel lonely?

Do you know why?

Is it consistent or temporary?

Is it just around certain dates or all the time?

Does anything trigger it?

Mine was more persistent when suffering mental health issues more, but it still comes along sometimes due to living alone. I keep busy and generally get over it quickly, but I remember how isolated I felt in the past; unwanted and even suicidal at times. For me, starting a college course, self-help, therapy and getting my pet hamster and cat helped me to be more socially included and have some company in my home – all worked wonders I have to say! And my tropical fish keep me busy and relaxed 🙂

… 3 years on and I have written a piece on ‘belonging’ and how important it is in our lives for our mental and physical health CLICK HERE to view it.

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