Loneliness is something so many people suffer from in silence. We often don’t even realise how many people are sitting at home, alone, right now while were out enjoying time with our friends, family, work, etc. Staying in the theme of my mental health series, loneliness is an important thing that people suffer from, and it doesn’t help when you’re struggling with other mental health issues, it tends to make them worse. It’s a reaction to isolation and can be a terrible thing to feel.
The first year that I moved to The Netherlands I spent majority of my time alone. I lived completely alone, didn’t have friends yet and the few people I knew lived farther away, I went to school maybe two times a week and that was it. It drove me absolutely crazy always being alone. Eventually it was too much effort to just text someone to meet up because I was so used to the silence and isolation. I was struggling with some pretty bad depression at that point and I can promise it didn’t help to be there by myself. All I kept thinking was if something were to happen to me, people wouldn’t even know.
It’s terrible to have that feeling of being so alone, that you don’t have a support system to fall back on. Of course I had family around me which helped, the times I wasn’t at home or at school I was with them and that got me through this. The seasons where both my parents lived across the world and I wasn’t on speaking terms with my sister I practically lived with my other family. I studied there, relaxed there, ate there, everything, and they welcomed me. They gave me what I needed to keep going, maybe without even realising it.
It may feel like it, but you aren’t alone in this boat. There are so many more people feeling this isolation, I’ve been there too and no one should have to go through this alone. Start small, you don’t need to take huge leaps all at once just to improve situations. For me making friends was too hard at that point, I didn’t know where to start to I spent time with family. Then I made myself go to every lecture at school. Not because it was all so fun or interesting but so I had things to do, so I was around people even if I wasn’t being very social. Eventually I started talking to others and them to me, and by coincidence I made friends. Sometimes even just a 5 minute conversation can change things. You meet people and realise that you click without ever having suspected it.
Two of my now best friends I never would have spoken to on my first few weeks/months of college. It’s because I ended up being put in the same project group as them but they seemed like the people I wouldn’t hang out with, they intimidated me. Then once we started talking I realised they were the sweetest, most loyal people. It wasn’t because I thought I had to be more social right away and started talking to everyone, but the little steps of trying to overcome depression by doing things. Just going to school even if I wasn’t paying attention to the lecture. Sometimes I went to school and didn’t even go to the lectures cause I ended up with people doing other things.
I think it’s our responsibility as people to let each other know we’re there for them. We’re not made to be alone, and we can all do our part. See someone alone? Go sit next to them. Invite that person who you usually don’t talk to. Be kind to each other, you don’t know the battles they’re facing. Feeling alone? contact someone you trust, or even here me.
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Picture credit: a conscious rethink