Is loneliness just for the elderley?
Say someone is suffering from loneliness and most people would think of the elderly.
Is it really just the elderly that suffer from loneliness though?
We all see the tv adverts and the charities and campaigns to combat loneliness in the elderly but is is really just the elderly that suffer from loneliness?
It's easier to see why the elderly may suffer from loneliness. It's kind of assumed that younger people wouldn't suffer from this. After all we are the peak of our lives right? Groups of friends, nights out, more family around us maybe? It's easier for us to get out and about, socialise, make friends and see them more regularly.
What if this isn't the case though?
I myself have struggled with loneliness a lot. I've never been great at making friends, I've always been a bit of a loner, preferred my own company and absorbing myself in creative activities right from a young age. I found socialising difficult, new people scared me. They still do a lot of the time!
I often feel like I'm pretending when I meet people for the first time, the process actually wears me out, it physically makes me tired from the anxiety that has built up, not just that day but from the process before hand knowing that it's coming. It can make life very difficult and makes it easier to keep myself to myself. Add the that the fact that I have struggled a lot with mental illness. Multiple hospital admissions - two of them being in my twenties when I was going out a lot and then all of a sudden it came to a halt. I lost friends, not only that I lost trust - I found it hard to trust that people would want to be my friend. When they were my friend, I could and still can be flakey - My mental health and my physical health make me not the most reliable person on the planet and I hate letting people down so what should be straightforward can quite often with me be quite stressful at times.
Due to this and the way my life panned out I often found myself lonely. It's very contradictory , like I would like more people in my life but then I struggle with that. However it doesn't mean that I want to feel alone. I don't really have any family around me and literally have a few friends, only one of whom I see every Friday. He is a mutual friend of myself and my partner and is a part of our friday evening furniture where we watch a film, we actually named it recluse Fridays! Other than that I can easily go weeks without seeing anyone else apart from my Nan.
That makes me sound really sad and writing it I feel a bit silly but i feel it's a point that needs to be made as it's not just the elderly that feel lonely. I am 32 and I get lonely. My health is a huge factor and makes things complicated. I can be fine and then I wont be and that could be that way for weeks and so planning things can be difficult and it's not what most my age are like and i am aware of that so it's easier sometimes to think " It's easier this way" but sometimes It does get to me.
I know I am not the only one. Mental health and physical health conditions make this the lonely way of life for many many more than just myself but I do feel it's overlooked.
I remember everyone saying to me "when your child goes to school you make friends" I can honestly say that hasn't worked out that way for me. I joined an exercise class but everyone goes with other people and they stand in their groups, so even the things that people tell you to do or that will happen don't always work out either so It's difficult and I think that it's something that younger people find it hard to admit to. I used to feel embarrassed by it but these days i guess I have come to accept it and I fill my time with my partner, daughter, my handmade business, mental health awareness, lots of creative activities and planning things for the future that I enjoy personally and with my little family which I am mostly ok with but there are still times I feel very lonely.
What about though if someone doesn't even have those things? And what if they are only in their 20's, 30's ........?
I remember looking once when I was extremely down about it some years ago to see if there were any charities for younger adults like there are for the elderly, or any programmes or anything like that but I could find nothing.
The point i would like to make here is that loneliness isn't just for the elderly, it happens to younger people too. For whatever reason that may be - health, disability, circumstances - there are so many reasons why someone may not have people around them like maybe you would expect them to, or maybe even assume that they have. It's easy to look at someone and the way they act and assume they have lots of friends, a good family around them, but that's not always the case. As they say, you really can't judge a book by it's cover and I think it's really important to check in on people. Just seeing how someone is doing could really mean the world to them. If you know someone doesn't have many people around them arranging a meet up or a day out could really mean more than you know and I think we all need to be a bit more tuned in to these things and the difference they can make to someone. Also things like if you are out and see someone looking a bit awkward and they are on their own just say hi, even if you're with other people. It's being a bit more aware of what's around us I guess because we are all guilty of being blinkered sometimes, that's life but the little things can go a really long way.
I think there needs to be more awareness surrounding younger adults and loneliness - and not just adults, young people too! Anyones situation and circumstances can find them suffering from chronic loneliness certainly not just the elderly and I think it's an important thing for us to bear in mind. If you know someone who may be feeling lonely once you've read this just give them a call, a text, a whatsapp, snapchat - whatever it is it doesn't matter but you may just brighten their day :)
If you're feeling lonely I can't give any great advice seen as I am queen of isolation a lot of the time! But please do go to the home page and click the happy post button to send me a message for some happy post to be sent your way. It's not much but I would like to think that it can make someone feel just a little less lonely and I would love to send you some :)