Reading this Psychology Today article on the seven types of loneliness, I think I have number 2 (“I’m-different loneliness”) and number 3 (“No-sweetheart loneliness”).  With number 3, it’s not really possible to do anything about that right now, given my employment and mental health situations.  Unfortunately, people therefore sometimes try to push me down the route of solving “lack of friends loneliness” instead, which strangely isn’t clearly on the list, but making more friends (which admittedly would be a good thing to do in itself) won’t stop the “No-sweetheart loneliness”.

Regarding number 2, “I’m-different loneliness,” I think on some level I want/need this.  If I make friends or start to fit in somewhere, I start to find reasons why people wouldn’t “really” like me, if they “knew the real me,” because I’m too religious, or not religious enough, or because I’m a Doctor Who fan or mentally ill or autistic or whatever.  I think on some level being accepted, particularly as part of a group or community, scares me and I try to avoid it, just as I avoided making many real friends when I was in the sixth form and then at university.  I think on some level being different and alone is part of my self-image.

***

I came across the Psychology Today article because I was looking for ideas of things I could do when lonely.  My therapist suggested making some charts of things I could think/do when depressed or lonely, to prompt me to remember things I can do or to think about unhelpful things I might be thinking.  I struggle to remember these type of things when in the midst of depression or loneliness.  I had a few ideas for the depressed one, but don’t have much for the loneliness one.

This is what I’ve got:

When I feel depressed or anxious I could…

–> ask myself if this is my critical voice talking.

–> ask myself if I am catastrophising or using black and white thinking.

–> ask myself if I am using “shoulds.”  Focus on my values instead.

–> check if I need to eat or drink.

–> shut down my computer and walk, run, read or watch TV if possible.

–> go to bed if it’s after 11pm.

–> consider going to depression group, if it’s meeting soon.

 

When I feel lonely I could…

–> email a friend, to say hi or to arrange to meet.

–> consider going to depression group, if it’s meeting soon.

–> remind myself that I have friends and family who care about me.

–> read saved emails from friends.

 

The idea is that I can stick these up somewhere and hopefully see them when I feel bad and be able to think differently or do things differently.  I would be interested to hear any other ideas of what could go on them.

***

I struggled to sleep last night.  I think it was because it was late by the time my sister and brother-in-law left, then I did some Torah study.  By that time I was too tired, and it was too late, for me to really unwind before I went to bed.  I feel OK today though; I was worried I would have a “mental hangover” as I call the exhaustion after a busy or successful day.

Today I worked on my novel a bit and cooked dinner.  I also went for a walk.  My ankle seems a lot better, but I don’t think I’ll run tomorrow to be sure.  I spent an hour on Torah study too.

I felt quite good while working on my novel, even if I didn’t quite make it to a solid two hours, but once I stopped, I started feeling depressed, which is interesting.

 

17 thoughts on “On Loneliness

  1. When you’re writing, your brain is engaged, you are producing something, and you have a sense of accomplishment. How can that transfer to other activities? I like the lists and ideas. Could you go on a walk with someone? My late husband wasn’t autistic, but he could be quite socially awkward. His adaptation was to always be doing something together: taking a walk, hiking, playing tennis, doing a board game, playing cards, playing bocce or croquet, etc. That way there was a specific and organized way to socialize instead of just sitting around making small talk. (which he hated and wasn’t good at) Just a thought and I know that Covid19 makes this incredibly difficult. It sounds like a pretty positive day overall, and I’m glad your ankle is improving.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I could walk with my parents, but I’m not sure that that would make much difference, given that I live with them. I do try to find activities with friends, but it’s not always easy, or to meet in groups of three or more so I don’t feel all the pressure of conversation.

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  2. This maybe isn’t all that relevant, but do you have a weighted blanket yet? Maybe summer isn’t the best time, but it seems like it would be the closest thing to a hug without an actual human being involved.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I wish I could link you up to 2 of my writer friends. 🙂 They’ve commented it’s hard to meet other writers, I met one of them yesterday and will see the other next week – I hope to introduce the two of them to each other.

    I know, “making more friends” won’t solve “no sweetheart” problem, but I’m guessing people suggest it because it’s a numbers game. Meet more people, see who you get along well with, etc etc and who knows if love blooms. Personally, I feel that making friends and finding a sweetheart is also a “luck” thing and quite dependent on the circle of people you’re with. I remember an acquaintance with autism who has a really busy life, he meets a lot of people but no luck with sweethearts despite attractions to several women.

    Would you ever consider online dating? In my LGBTQ world, it’s very common to use dating apps and then ask out people you match with. If it doesn’t work out, then one has a new friend. And in my culture, we hang out over activities and food. Or people go to places of worship and join “religious text study groups” and meet likeminded folks there.

    I’m really glad that working on your novel helps your mood. I hope your ankle continues to heal fast! Depression is tough to bear and I hope you can find ways to improve your life in the ways you desire.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re probably right about meeting people leading to love, although it hasn’t really worked out that way for me in the past. I definitely agree that making friends and finding a partner has an unpredictable element.

      I have done online dating in the past. That’s how I met my first girlfriend. I got a bit scared off it, as the other times I tried it, I had zero success. People weren’t even emailing me or even responding to my emails. My reservation is that it can cost a lot of money in subscriptions, but I’m thinking it may be the way to go, when I feel ready to date again.

      I can’t really meet anyone at my place of worship, because almost all the activities are gender-segregated, which annoys me. I don’t think there are many single women my age in the community anyway. Most of the people in the community are somewhat older than me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dang, dating websites and apps still charge? I didn’t know. I met my fiance over IRC and another friend met her wife there too.

        I hope in time you will feel ready to date again. Might sound cliche but you do have good qualities to offer.

        Ahh, with gender segregation, I wonder how people meet fellows to date. In my old community, the older ones liked match making younger congregation members to each other. It was sorta like a village where word got out fast if someone was single and looking.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I assume they still charge. I haven’t checked since my last attempt at internet dating several years ago.

          Thanks for saying I have good qualities. It can be hard to remember sometimes.

          There is a lot of dating via matchmaking in the Orthodox community, either informal through mutual friends/acquaintances or via professional matchmakers. I don’t seem to be integrated into the community enough for the former, and I’m rather scared of the latter, having heard a lot of horror stories, and also that very few people seem to meet their spouse through professional matchmakers, although it does sometimes happen.

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  4. Your thoughts on loneliness are interesting. I think the most profound type of loneliness, and the one which is the source of all the others is an existential loneliness which at its source reflects our need for and yet disconnect from God. Did you ever see the BBC documentary “Age of Loneliness”? It really spoke to me. I was looking for a link to it, and cannot find the full programme which is an hour long (it’s on Prime) but some of it can be watched here: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3le16w . The raw honesty of the people interviewed is what makes this documentary so powerful.

    As for what you can do about it. The best thing to do is anything which connects you to others — and this need not be direct communication. Your blog is a source of connection as is reading what others write. Music is a powerful form of communication which goes beyond words. I once had a friend who annoyed me when I was stuck in a deep depression because she kept telling me to “think of other people”. I was so depressed I could only think about me. But I do now see that there was some wisdom in this. I later spent five years working for the Samaritans. I was so alone at the time that I did shifts on all the unpopular days e.g. Christmas day. What I learned was that there is a world out there of people who are profoundly lonely and in pain — and they think they are the only ones but they are not. My loneliness would subside when I connected with other lonely people. There is always the tendency to retreat when we are pain – but if you do reach out, even tentatively, you will find like minded souls out there. After all, there are 7.6 million single person households in the UK . We have lost community and loneliness is probably the biggest threat to mental health we face at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t see that documentary. I agree about the loneliness of being disconnected from God. The classic Jewish text on this existential loneliness is The Lonely Man of Faith by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik.

    I also struggle to think about other people when I’m depressed. I used to volunteer at a drop-in centre for asylum seekers, but I used to come away still feeling lonely, because I couldn’t connect to anyone there, plus I would volunteer to look after the children, but feel self-conscious about it. That hasn’t happened for months now anyway because of lockdown.

    I have found my blog a way of connecting with other lonely people, and reading other people’s blogs.

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  6. I like your having a list like that worked out and ready to go should you feel lonely. I also make a playlist of songs on my phone called Encouragement, and I fill it with a loop of songs that make me feel better.

    Liked by 1 person

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