I’ve had periods of loneliness throughout my life, we all do, it’s pretty natural. However more and more of us are facing loneliness in the UK and the pandemic has had a huge impact on our mental health and the feeling of loneliness.
My first memory of being lonely was back in primary school. We’d moved from a small village school to a larger ‘new town’ primary school (one of about 6 in the town) and I was immediately a target for bullying. I don’t think there was a specific reason really, except that I was new. I now know that the girl who was the main instigator was having problems at home, her parents were splitting up, and home life wasn’t great for her. So it helped her at that time to project that hurt and pain onto me.
I don’t think I’d ever felt so alone. Nobody spoke to me for a lot of those 4 years, scared it would happen to them if they did. I spent a lot of time desperately trying to make my peers like me. I also remember clearly thinking if I threw myself from this balcony (our school was on three floors) and died, would anyone come to my funeral.
My next period of loneliness was when I moved to London. I’d wanted to live there since I was little. But I moved on the back of a marriage break-up, we worked together too, so I literally had nothing. I was lucky and stayed with family, but I was essentially still a lodger with a bedroom. I also moved down straight into work after a chance interview (my one and only interview there LOL), so didn’t have a chance to wallow. That first year was so lonely. My best friends were all still up in Scotland having a great time, out every weekend. I was sitting in my room, alone, waiting for that little envelope to appear on my Nokia 6410 (if you know, you know). It was tough, but slowly I made friends at work and my GarageUK love affair began. My aunt became my bestie, we loved Saturdays in Crouch End. And my cousin and his mates were always up for a night out in the Arts Club after work.
“One thing I’ve learned is the difference between feeling alone and feeling lonely – and how you can feel lonely in a crowd full of people, but quite peaceful and content when alone”
Mental health and loneliness are funny old things. Loneliness has no common cause. Sometimes it can be triggered by a life event or change in circumstance, or it may not be triggered by anything at all. We all experience feeling lonely in different ways.
I have a great circle of friends and family here in York, back home in Scotland, and in London. Live in a beautiful home and have three wonderful boys and a dachshund to keep me busy. I also work part-time with a fantastic team in a local Independent School. But I still feel lonely at times.
Loneliness and Mental Health
Feeling lonely isn’t in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. And having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely. Below are some ways to help if you are feeling lonely:
- Take it slow
- Try to make new connections through work, school, hobbies, community groups, volunteering.
- Try to open up to trusted friends and/or colleagues
- Talking therapies
- Social care – there are organisations who can help put you in touch with others.
- Be careful when comparing yourself to others
- Look after yourself
Visit here for the full article and more information.
How can I help?
So this Mental Health Awareness Week, check in on your friends, especially those you haven’t heard from in a while. Loneliness can be hard to admit to and sometimes it’s easier to hide away, exaserbating the situation. The impact it can have on someone’s mental health is significant. So give them a call, send them a text, or pop round for a cuppa, it will make all the difference.
And that’s why I write, to reach out to those who understand and make others realise they are not alone either. To build a community and raise awareness of mental health issues.