Friday, 12 May 2017

Much Ado About Loneliness (ME Awareness Day post 3)

This is my third and final post for M.E Awareness Day 2017. This post also links into mental health and it happens to be mental health awareness week too!

Here are links to my other two:

- The Tale Of Two Relapses
- Sense and Sensitivity

Chronic illnesses are extremely complex and with all the physical symptoms mental symptoms can also occur. These, for me, tend to fluctuate a lot. Some people can develop depression alongside M.E. I personally have not but do hugely suffer from anxiety, and low mood. In this post I am going to focus on loneliness which can both cause low mood and be caused by low mood. I have been feeling incredibly lonely recently and I think lots of chronic illness sufferers will feel this at some point.

Why is it so hard to admit to others that I’m lonely?
There is a lot of stigma, no matter what your situation in life, to admitting to any sort of mentality that isn't considered the norm. I’ve never had a problem talking about my feelings, emotions, physical or mental well being to friends, family or quite frankly to complete strangers, but recently this has shifted slightly.

I’ve been ill and disabled for over a decade and with that feelings of frustration about all the different parts of my illness, my life and my future heighten at different times. They ebb and flow, and I’ve usually been quite open about them. The last few months have been a little different and although I have manage to tell some of my friends and closest of family about these lingering feelings I’m absolutely petrified of telling anyone else. Telling my loved ones was hard enough. Those words 'I AM LONELY' are hard to admit

Taking the plunge and telling the world (or the people that read this blog...)
For a while I couldn't work out why recently I was feeling so lonely and isolated from the world and there is only so much social media that can help with that. Sometimes social media often it makes the feelings worse. 

The problem is I can’t cope with constant company, or much talking on the phone, but only being able to go out once a week, and often just for an appointment, wasn't cutting it for me mentally recently. There has to be some sort of balance.

The first thing for me, I always find is to try identify why my feelings have shifted. There usually isn't a definite answer but pin pointing something makes me feel less useless. This also relates to trying to work out why I haven't been able to admit it more openly as well. Establishing why I haven't been able to speak about it has ironically helped me write this honest blog post. The reason is because I am scared.

I am not scared of being judged, or scared of my own feelings about having some deep down gut wrenching moments of loneliness because I’ve accepted those feelings. I’m frightened that reaching out to people won’t change anything. Asking for help is all well and good but I'm not actually physically well enough to accept more visits or phone calls. I was scared of feeling useless and pointless as I'm not in a position to increase my social life to help with my feeling. I thought I would feel even more alone as my physical capabilities limit my mental wellbeing. It turns out I was wrong! Just the pure act of opening up like I usually do has helped me understand what I am going through and eased the pressure I put on myself over it all.

Over the years I have spent a lot of time with my parents friends, they have been amazing and supportive and would do a lot for me, it’s not quite the same as spending time with people my age. I do sometimes feel isolated from my contemporaries, so more feelings of loneliness than usual are making me feel like I'm missing out even more. I miss feeling like a young woman, I don’t ‘fit’ with the lifestyle of a twenty-something year old, but I don’t always feel like I fit anywhere else either. I've never followed the crowd (and yes this caused me many problems at school) but I do need a sense of belonging. I do want to hear personally about peoples jobs, lives, experiences. It does make me sad but if I'm not too low in mood it actually makes me feel more alive.

I want to make it clear that my handful of close friends are so supportive and do make an effort to see me when they can, but most people don’t live round and the corner. Trying to organising a time to see people is hard enough let alone spontaneously co-ordinating with a low mood but slightly more energy type of day! What gets me through the tough times is knowing that the friends that still make an effort after all these years won't dessert me now, even in the hardest of times.

A helping hand
Writing the blog post has actually helped. It hasn't actually made me feel alone at all. It has helped me process my thoughts and give some context. Reading through this post it hasn't gone exactly how I wanted and I hope it makes sense but I do not have the energy to refocus it. You may be asking did I identify why I have been struggling with awful low moods? Yes I have and it is to do with new treatment I started in December but thats a blog post for another day.

I hope anyone reading this who also feels alone, knows that there are other people out their feeling the same and to know that those feelings will come and go and over time will get better- especially if you let yourself have a good cry.

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