It’s a bit like the chicken or the egg discussion as we could go around in circles about being alone. Having people around us to support us helps us deal with our depression but often it’s something that makes us feel so alone and shun any social contact whatsoever. I am lucky to have come out of that cycle and have a lot of family, friends and acquaintances in my social circle these days so I am never actually alone. Having said that, I often still feel very much alone but I look around me and there’s just too much evidence to the contrary which helps me snap out of it. I also have developed an arsenal of personal tools I reach into when things get bad. But I was thinking about the days when I truly did feel alone…many many years ago when this all started as I hit puberty. It was a very difficult time, especially as I was still figuring out who I was as a young teenage girl, recently moved into a new country. I really felt truly alone as I had left all my friends behind and well, my parents just weren’t my friends. I would spend days alone in empty houses (it’s seriously suprising how many houses for sale are left open) crying and contemplating suicide. I even made some feeble attempts with a knife but well, it hurt and I couldn’t go through with it. Not that anyone noticed. Ever. Looking back, it’s fair to say that I spent a lot of my developmental years both mentally as well as physically alone. I had some friends at school but I wasn’t allowed out so I didn’t have the strongest of relationships outside of school and after I moved out of home, I was incapable of making great social connections as I hadn’t really learned the art when I was younger. I always preferred my own company as it was so much easier to just be myself with noone else around! Unfortunately this is a bit of a negative loop to live in – humans are not designed to exist alone. We’re not. No matter how much I tried to convince myself, I simply was NOT better off alone.
Through sheer good fortune I met my first real love in my early 20s who taught me what it meant to love someone unconditionally. Who hung on as I tried to push away (sometimes kicking and screaming) and stuck it out with amazing willpower until I began to learn that I was worth loving and that someone actually loved me. Not the person that they wanted me to be but the person that I was. It was a wonderful 5 and a half years (we had ups and downs of course but mostly ups) and I learned a lot about myself and I still thank this person to this day for opening me up to loving honestly and fully. It was a huge eye opener and changed me forever – it allowed me to foster loving relationships and social support in my life for which I could never be grateful enough. So now, at the very least, I have a great deal of evidence that I am not alone, which helps, a lot.
Having said that, I still often do feel alone. It’s one of the reasons that I started this blog I think. Because my biggest issue is that while I have many friends, there are few who know who I really truly am. I am not the happy go lucky person that they think I am. I am often battling with this thing called depression and it takes a great deal of mental strength just to get out of bed sometimes. I often feel like I’m living a bit of a lie … pretending to be someone I’m not and that if folk only knew then they wouldn’t be my friend anymore. It’s a crazy way of thinking (because I know that it isn’t true) and my goal here is to start talking about this. Talking more and more so there is greater awareness that the person next to you, who seemingly appears to have it all, may also be struggling with a mental illness. That you’re not alone. There are a lot of us it’s just that there are social expectations that don’t allow us to openly talk about it. I want to start the conversation…I’m starting here but I hope, one day to start it in the “real” world. One day, to just be open and matter of fact about it. To talk about it like I might talk about my dry cuticles in the winter time. Like it’s just something that is happening that I need to deal with – without any of the social repurcussions that come with it. Without the hush hush tones of “she’s crazy” whispered behind my back.
So, let’s talk. Say hello. Say whatever you need to. Let’s stop being alone.