Why do we feel ashamed to admit that we are lonely?
Many people suffering with HS are experiencing loneliness. Having a debilitating health condition can be incredibly lonely, for different reasons. People struggling with their mental health will no doubt also experience feelings of loneliness at some point, if not daily. The truth is, I think everyone does.
I don’t know about you, but there are certainly times where I feel lonely. Even when I’m surrounded by people. When my mental health was at it’s worst, I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I spent most of my time alone in a dark room trying to sleep away the days, yet that wasn’t a time I felt lonely. For me, it comes with my anxiety. To be someone that overthinks things and has what I would describe as an irrational thought process (on occasion) can be extremely lonely. I often acknowledge that my anxiety is making me feel and think things that other people don’t. Usually, my anxiety gets ‘triggered’ (for want of a better word) by things that are so insignificant. So insignificant I don’t always want to talk about how I’m feeling because I know that it just wouldn’t make sense to other’s. So you see, that’s why it’s lonely. To try and manage your own thought process and bring yourself back from that place whilst trying to remain somewhat ‘in the moment’ with life and people around you, is difficult. Sure, talking to people and being open about how you feel does help but nobody can truly understand what goes on in your head.
What annoys me the most about the word ‘lonely’ is the stigma that comes with it. People are happy to share mental health awareness posts on social media and don’t get me wrong, that’s great - We should be supporting one another, but I still think there are so many negative associations with loneliness that it’s a subject people just don’t like to talk about. What person do you imagine when you think of someone being lonely? I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s someone alone, sad and perhaps elderly? I would not blame you if that’s the image you have because that’s the image that has been given to the world for years in the media. It’s an image that is probably true, I am sure there are many older people, alone and suffering with loneliness. But, it goes way beyond that.
We’ve just lived through a pandemic and I’m confident in saying that the majority of people have probably experienced feelings of being lonely over the past year. A huge amount of us have gone from working with people, to working at home. People that relied on the commute, or the morning trip to a coffee shop or being in the office have now had to adjust to working and potentially living completely alone. As we go through life, we watch people around us have different experiences. It’s everywhere. In friendship groups and all-over social media. We see the highlight reels of everyone’s lives and even though we know that nobody has it perfect, it’s hard not to compare. How can we not feel lonely? How do we know if someone is feeling lonely if all we see is the great photos on their Instagram feed? We have got all these great virtual ways for communicating with one another and yet, somehow, it feels like we are more disconnected than ever.
But even with all of this. Even when we know that everyone has experienced it at some point, it’s still so scary to admit being lonely. WHY? It’s time to change that.
So here goes, I have days where I feel lonely. This does not mean I am sad. It does not mean I am living with depression. It does not mean I’m alone, because as I said above, sometimes I feel lonely even when I’m surrounded by people. I would go as far as saying being around a lot of people, is when I feel it the most. (Again, this goes back to my anxiety) Sometimes when I’m lonely I go for a walk completely alone which helps, in a weird way. Other times, I feel myself wanting to reach out to people to have a chat and reconnect with old friends. Sometimes I need to have a cry, eat all the ice-cream and binge watch Netflix and that’s ok. There is no shame in admitting this. It’s time to disassociate feeling lonely with the untrue, negative vision that you have in your head. It’s an emotion that is normal and one that we all feel. Ironically, if we all started to feel less shame about it we’d probably realise we aren’t the only ones thinking it, which would possibly make us feel a little less lonely. Funny how these things work right?
So if you’re feeling lonely, just know that you are in fact, not alone. Do not be afraid to admit it. We often tell people when we’re feeling happy, excited and even when we’re feeling annoyed about a situation, but when we’re feeling sad, upset or lonely we don’t tend to be as willing to share that. I suspect it’s because there are still connotations of those emotions being ‘weak’ which is not true at all. All emotions are a part of life. It’s what makes us human. Without those not-so-great feelings, we would never be able to appreciate the great ones.
Let’s end the stigma together.
Until next time,