No One Is Home

  • These four walls surround me. The space within them is safe but I don’t like it. I want to reach out to people I once knew. but I can’t.

  • I don’t feel like I belong. I tried for a while, but it seemed like I was the only one making an effort, so I stopped and I was right, no one called.

  • It’s okay when I’m working but when I get home there is nothing, no one.

  • The television is my companion;

  • They say that they’re my friend but they’re never available. They always have an excuse not to catch up.

  • I’m used to my own company.

Have you ever thought like this? Despite the fact that social media connects us to the four corners of the world, many people suffer from loneliness. You can be the life of the party, or be in a crowd and still feel lonely. Loneliness is, I believe, one of the most destructive issues that we, as a society have.

Research has shown that loneliness is more than an emotion. Loneliness can kill you, it is that devastating. Research has shown that loneliness is the cause of medical problems and increases our mortality by 26%

Loneliness causes

  • Physical symptoms – aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions

  • Mental health conditions – increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks

  • Low energy – tiredness or lack of motivation

  • Sleep problems – difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much

  • Diet problems – loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss

  • Substance use – Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs

  • Negative feelings – feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide

(https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/loneliness-isolation)

Loneliness infiltrates every aspect of our lives. Psychology Today reported that when socially isolated our nervous systems automatically switch into ‘self-preservation mode’, which makes us more abrasive and defensive – even if there’s actually no threat.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/loneliness-makes-your-brain-work-differently-study-shows-a6732056.html

So how did we get to be a world full of loneliness. Sometimes it’s a choice and other times it is through circumstances that are not handled well. Someone close to you may have died, maybe you’re disconnected from your family, you are shy and don’t do well in social gatherings, have a mental health disorder and people don’t know what to say or do so they stay away from you and you stay away from people, maybe you fear you’ll be rejected because of your beliefs or how you act, maybe you just don’t have a purpose in life.

There are many reasons why we are lonely, and everybody gets lonely at some point but when it is for extended periods of time, it is a problem. It could even be a habit that you have grown used to, you may not like it, but you’re used to it.

Social media is great at connecting but as we know it can also be quite toxic. You can connect with anyone, any where in the world because at any given point in time, someone, somewhere will be awake.

You can have a job and be good at what you do. You can go out with people and have fun and laugh but when the party is over, when the work day is done – how do you feel? Who do you go home to or do you go home to an empty house where the silence screams louder than the fun you just had or the milestone you hit at work? How do you feel when your only companion is the television or the radio? Do you turn it off or leave it on for background noise so that you know you’re not alone.

But how do you end the loneliness cycle. It’s very easy to say get over it. Join a group or get a hobby. It’s very easy to say go out and meet people. It’s not that easy, if one has been hurt by people or if one is shy and feels awkward in social situations. I put my hand up here, I’m not good in social situations, I pretend I like them, I’ll go, I’ll have a conversation or two but I feel out of place.

I have a handful of friends. I love catching up with them but we’re all busy. We have work or study or family commitments and they can take a priority, but I also know that if the crunch came, I can rely on those people, to find time to have a coffee and chat, no matter what the time of the day is.

Loneliness can contribute to mental health disorders of depression and anxiety. Who haven’t you heard from in a while? What family members haven’t you spoken because you’ve been too busy. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy phone call or a visit.

Just a simple sms message or message via Messenger to say Hi, you’re thinking of them, will start the process of connection and show you care. And when you invite them out for coffee and chat and they tell you that they can’t. Keep asking because they really want to.

As March – Mental Health Awareness month starts to wrap up think about those in your life. Let us start to reconnect and let the ripple effect begin.

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