“I feel lonely” – this is the phrase I utter to Rigby, my canine companion and tireless PA. I don’t think I’ve ever said it out loud before, because.. well it sounds pathetic right? You only have to check my Twitter or Instagram to see how active and super cool my life is…. and we all know that social media only ever tells the truth. *nervous smile.* Seeming like we’re happy, social and have our sh** together is a bizarre, but unspoken ambition. Yet, it’s also very unhealthy.
On average I spend around eighty hours a month on my own, (this excludes interviews, gigs and social outings). I’m a writer and keynote speaker, so I don’t need to be in an office. Even though I still do totally dream of having my own GIANT office, in a super cool building, complete with a chaise longue, marble desk and a PA who can do more than lick my face and stare at me blankly, when I scream “Omg Rigby I’m sh**! I’m literally the worst writer in the world!” (Which happens weekly).
It’s a career that I chose and I feel lucky to be in a position where I can earn money from doing something that I love. However, it can be a lonely experience. There I said it…. Even us introverts require human interaction on occasion.
I miss going out for drinks with colleagues after a long day in the office, or having lunch with people. I miss having a quick natter with someone in the communal kitchen whilst making a brew.
By the time my husband gets home around 18:45, I tend to pounce on him, begging for adult conversation!
I’m lucky to have a close group of friends up here in Bolton, but most of them have kids, as well as full-time jobs, so organising meetups can be tricky. Whereas, in London, my social group tended to be more free and spontaneous. I suppose in many ways that’s why I miss it so much.
Living with a mental health condition can also be incredibly isolating and lonely. In the early stages of my recovery, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the house. The ‘getting ready,’ ‘travel,’ and general effort felt overwhelming. Yet, for those living with depression, in particular, being social is very important. As hard as it may feel, it’s always better to go out and be around people, rather than curling up with IT in the dark. Read my post on depression for more insight.
Are you lonely? What can you do about it?
- Honesty. The most difficult but important thing to do. It’s hard because admitting that you’re lonely makes you vulnerable to other people. Yet, it’s the most simple way to solve the problem. Besides, if nobody knows, then how can they help? For example, recently after an accident that I can’t discuss at this stage… I felt incredibly alone and needed to talk. So I rang one of my best friends and asked if she would “come over for a brew.” Due to work reasons, she couldn’t. BUT, she immediately told me to ring and we had a good thirty-minute chat. Compromise. I was honest & I didn’t feel alone anymore.
- If you don’t have a personal support unit that you feel comfortable opening up to, then an immediate action would be to ring The Samaritans. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Sometimes it’s just therapeutic to have someone ‘listen,’ judgment-free and get everything out of your system. Click HERE for more information.
- Volunteering! This is perfect for both people with free time on weekdays and the weekend. I know people who have made genuine lifelong friends via volunteering. It’s also something that I’ve been considering myself recently. Do-it is an excellent resource. Click HERE to find out more.
- Meet up websites. (Meetup being the main one). This one is particularly great for people who’ve moved to a new city or country. It’s an entire universe of potential social experiences. You can search via area and activity, or just have a browse and be inspired by what you see. There’s also the option to start your own group/activity. Click HERE for more information.
Don’t ever feel ashamed to be lonely. It’s normal and it’s human.