I have heard from many members in the chronic illness community that loneliness is a shared feeling. I am no stranger to loneliness. I often protest that I do not have the ability to be lonely, because I value my solitude- but it is very possible.
As I have shared in previous posts, I have an autoimmune disease (Hashimotos) which leaves me tired often, no matter how much sleep I get. I struggle to make plans in advance. “I’m too tired” becomes my excuse, but nobody would understand that those words do not mean I have no interest in going out. I wish I could. When I reach a point where I am too fatigued, I ignore texts, I cancel plans. It isn’t because I can not physically make it there, it is because I am ashamed to show up as that version of me. When I do show up, I want to be all there. If that makes sense-
My fatigue is misunderstood as a disinterest, or boredom, and explaining my condition is not a fun social activity either. Without meaning to, I push people away. What hurts the most, is that at those times, I need people the most. I guess I don’t want to have to need people. I don’t want the roles to change. I want people to enjoy my company too.
You want to be a part of things.
You can be in a room full of people, but feel more lonely than you did when you were by yourself.
How do you climb out of loneliness?
You can do what may be most uncomfortable in that moment.
You reach out first.
I did something very uncomfortable a few weeks before my surgery. Chronic pain can be isolating as well.
I was lonely.
Attached to my bed.
I reached out. I posted for my closest friends to see. I added my usual sarcastic humor to make it seem less whiny. I am not recommending you do this, but in an odd way it worked for me.
“im reaching out 🙋🏻♀️ because im sensitive and need to express it rn lol. i hate asking for help or being needy—but if i preach asking for help, it has to start with me. My surgery is in 2 weeks which is great but an area im lacking (and its 100% my fault) is social support. i get lonely, i get sad, and i get jealous on high pain days and im no fun when im like that like nobody needs to see that! but i also really want a friend in those times so its a contradiction. ANYWHO if anyone can squeeze time to come visit me the week or so after my surgery *wink wink* it will lift my spirits and be a healthy distraction and i feel like an asshole that im asking for this. but really i just feel guilty i have not done much with my friends, i miss yall, and i have isolated myself so much im afraid people forget about me or decide not to invite me because i usually say im not feeling well anyway. :/”
. . . .
I cringe reading that again. I didn’t necessarily have to reach out that way but it did get others attention. Even if my friends were too busy to hang out, it meant enough that they had texted me to check-in. I felt less alone. Loneliness isn’t always about having someone in the same room. There is a loneliness in knowing that you are the only one who is aware of how you are truly feeling, and what you truly want and need. It can even feel like you are the only one who cares. Maybe that’s true. But, someone does.
I tend to worry about burdening others, however I never assume others are burdening me. When they need me, I’m happy to help. I’m happy to know that they trust me enough to reach out, and that they trust themselves enough to express themselves.
Not everyone will experience or know exactly what you are going through, but there is a great chance they are fighting a hard battle too. Honest humans, honest friends, remind us that we are not alone.
I can not assume that everyone has a person or a group of people to reach out to when they are lonely. I can not assume that loneliness can’t reach the point of overwhelm and depression where you lose the energy or find the meaning in asking for help.
There are many hotlines and support groups, but one I always recommend from personal experience is the Crisis Text Line.
Just text “START” or “CONNECT”
It is anonymous. On the other end is a trained Crisis Counselor. *You can receive support for any difficult emotion.
take care of yourselves.