I want to preface all this by saying I am not qualified to give medical advice on loneliness. I am not a therapist, I am a middle school art teacher. I also want to say that I do not hate ALL of myself ALL of the time, but I can relate to people who may. I can see where it would get scary for some. This isn’t a cry for help. It is my experience with loneliness and depression.
I will mention that I have had plenty of opportunities to be scared of being lonely. I have used poor judgment because of it. I have been taken advantage of for it. I have created patterns around it, only to end up feeling more lonely. Other times I have just felt alone, like no one is really on my team. That it’s just me, even in a group of people.
Even around Friends and Family. Maybe even more.
I am a pretty lonely person. This may seem shocking to some because I have a personality that suggests otherwise. While having a larger than life persona IS me, I mask my heart pretty well. It is survival. It is a constant struggle in my head. Like someone talking over you. All the time. But its me.
When I get lonely I feel bored. Restless. As if layers of my skin are burning. I feel listless. Unmotivated. I start letting thoughts creep into my brain. Thoughts like “I am waisting time” “I have so much I need to do” “I hope no one calls me to hang out because they wouldn’t understand” “I miss my friends” “No one is calling” “Why does my existence burn?”
When I am lonely I feel alien to my own life. I start the replay button and montage all the negative moments of my life. I start punishing myself for the ones I acted in. I cower. I point fingers. I feel awkward. I shame myself. I start wishful thinking. I start regretting. I start synapsing all my demons.
I actually feel I am insignificant. I ask, “Why would anyone care about the difference I make?”
“What difference do I make?”
Sure all this sounds like depression. While some of it yes, it is deeply rooted in loneliness.
My mind is always running on overdrive. Analyzing or over analyzing. At hyper-speed. In cases of extreme loneliness I can identify myself also as depressed. I have quarantined myself inside the house surrounded by blankets and binging Netflix or HBO. All day and all night. Probably eating a large bag of salt and vinegar chips, downing sugary drinks and eating candy. Feeling guilty because I am paying for a gym membership. And into the self loathing loop I go.
When will I feel enough?
What is wrong with me?
What do I want?
I am very thankful for the mental health field. This is life. This is not a movie or a video game. It is not a fashion magazine or the latest Youtube sensation. It is life. And it can be as strange and dark as it is painted with beauty. I have a lot of feelings dealing with loneliness, but I have yet to give up on myself.
I am not surprised to hear that loneliness is an epidemic in the United States.
It is also not surprising to me that attributions to this include technology, over-prescribed medications, and the fact that our culture is set up treat vulnerability as weakness. Natural Selection. While I get that only the strong survive.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH LONELINESS?
Mostly we look to external forces to make ourselves “happy” again. We hang out with friends, watch something, social media, shop therapy, take a class, drink, eat. You name it, humans are great at avoiding our issues.
I want intrinsic strength to fight these times. I do not want to exclusively look outward anymore. I want to quiet the lonely hum in my head. I want it to be an excitement that turns “lonely” into just alone time. I envy those who already have this gift.
Human connection IS vital. However, so is the connection with ourselves.
For me, my loneliness is a search for validation. Something is very off with the relationship I have with myself AND THEN with other people.
What kind of validation am I looking for that will satiate these voices telling me that my existence is stale? Somewhere in my life my need for validation seems to have made me feel that I am constantly not doing enough to prove myself. To whom? Who are these people that I am trying to prove myself to? Why do I feel I cannot connect to others or myself?
I should be enough.
I am enough. (still working on this)
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If you didn’t notice, all titles in this blog are song titles that use the word lonely. They are good songs.