Loneliness: the secret social suffocation
Loneliness affects nine million people in the UK.
That is almost a fifth of the population. Although it is most common in people aged 75 or over, it can also affect young people.
Loneliness can be a real stress on your mental wellbeing, slowly eating away at your confidence and happiness. It can also affect your physical health, with researchers stating that loneliness and social isolation can have the same effect as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
91% of us think that small moments of connection can make a difference to someone who is feeling lonely.
It could be smiling at the person next to you, or starting a chat whilst waiting for the bus.
— Campaign to End Loneliness (@EndLonelinessUK) October 16, 2019
How did this start?
I have always been, what I like to call, a one man band. I like my own company and my own space, but thrive off interaction with others. Whilst I like a place to escape, I don’t want that to be at a sacrifice of being with friends and family. Yet, I have found the silence of my new apartment and my lack of time to socialise with people in my free time challenging. I have found myself on many nights feeling especially low and disconnected from the outside world.
Talking about it has been near impossible. I am constantly worried about being labelled a ‘moaner’ or a ‘snowflake’. When I attempt to reach out to friends, I give up on the idea last minute and try and change the subject.
I split with my partner of two and a half years. He is still a very close friend and I have nothing remotely bad to say about him, but it has meant that I feel a distance to this group of people in a way I can’t quite understand. I wanted to ask these people for advice after the break-up, but the risk of making both my ex-partner and my friends uncomfortable, made me abandoned the idea.
Breakups are hard anyways, but the distance I allowed it to create between me and my whole group of friends has left me feeling isolated. It has meant that I have dealt with the break up alone and as a result looked for company and friendship in the wrong places.
Loneliness isn't just about being alone, it's about being disconnected, isolated or feeling left behind. I want to help reduce the stigma of loneliness and get people talking this #LonelinessAwarenessWeek#LetsTalkLoneliness ❤️ @DCMS pic.twitter.com/xUCcpkeK1N
— Angellica Bell (@angellicabell) June 20, 2019
What I allowed to happen:
Instead of speaking to people about how I was feeling, I decided that online dating apps would help me to move on. Hooking up with guys at festivals, clubs, bars and having lots of casual sex was my way of trying to cope with my feelings of utter abandonment. I didn’t think that anyone knew how I felt. I didn’t think that anyone cared. Obviously this did not help. If anything it has made me feel even more alone.
Of course, I have friends, but they are not there when I am at home. I simply retreat to an empty flat and try and process my day alone. I have had nobody to share my low points with, but equally, nobody to share my high points with. I understand that I can’t have human interaction 100% of the time, but I wish I had somebody to talk to. Somebody who wants to listen and not just tell me to get over myself. A person who isn’t gonna call me spoiled. Someone who won’t judge me for the way I am feeling.
Right now, I still feel this way. My mood and emotions feel somewhat numb. My mental health is suffering as a result. I am looking for support, but the concept of speaking to a doctor, who is going to make everything seem so clinical frightens me. I don’t like feeling separate from everyone else, separate from my peers. I want to encourage talk. Through this article, I am extending my arm out to anyone in a similar situation. I hope through sharing this, I will help someone else feel less alone. Create conversation and interaction. It is time to talk, to be open and to be vulnerable.