What It's Like When Loneliness Is Your Best Friend

What It's Like When Loneliness Is Your Best Friend

Depression, anxiety, and the isolation of being forgotten.

Since I was around 12 or 13, I have been horribly, desperately, painstakingly alone.

I've been alone for so long that oftentimes I forget how unnatural my loneliness actually is. Humans are social creatures, we thrive on connections with each other. And yet, every single night I find myself alone in my room wondering how I ended up so utterly disconnected from the world.

The idea of hanging out with friends every day is foreign to me; I hang out with friends once every few weeks, if that. Relationships? Never been in one. Parties? Never been to one. What's familiar to me is going to school, going home or to work, and then shutting myself in my room until I wake up the next morning.

And trust me, I know that's pathetic and I hate that this is ritual to me. But when you come to realize, as I have, that you could disappear entirely and no one would notice, it really cuts at your willpower to go out and exist in the world.

I don't actually know much but being alone. In middle school I had a pretty tight-knit friend group, but after one of them texted me "we're getting pretty annoyed with you" — a message I can still vividly picture popping up on my extremely hip Verizon LG Chocolate phone — I began to isolate myself from people. Every time I try to trace back to where everything in my social life started to go wrong, I arrive back at that moment.

My social anxiety, my self-consciousness, my inability to believe that anyone would ever actually want to get to know me... it all stems from the moment I was told that my own best friends thought I was annoying (no wonder I've always had the fear that everyone secretly hates me).

In an effort to prevent myself from being a nuisance in anyone else's life, I disconnected myself from the people around me. And I guess to an extent it's worked: I don't have that many people in my life that I'm close to, and in turn I don't have many people to risk letting down.

I don't mean to discredit those that I have been lucky enough to have support me. The people I do have are the reasons I stay alive. But keeping strong connections has only gotten harder as I've gotten older and as my struggles with depression and social anxiety have started to manifest in my relationships.

Friends move away to college, get in more serious relationships, get jobs, make new friends...they start new lives, lives that don't include me. I just fall behind, folding in on myself until I disappear completely. I fade away into the background, and it's like I never existed in the first place. It's like I never mattered.

That's the hardest part about loneliness—being forgotten. It's not intentional, I know people don't set out to erase me from their memory (at least I hope not). But somehow that makes it worse. I'm not given any thought at all, good or bad. My presence isn't enough for people to realize when it's missing. I'm not enough. I don't matter.

My depressive episodes normally spiral around the idea of mattering. When I start to slip into an episode, nothing matters to me and I don't matter to anything or anyone. I can't see past the immediate moment to a time where the things I do or say will matter, and in turn, I become cold, closed-off, and apathetic. I drive myself away from people so that no one has to be victim to my pain. People don't mind being around me when I'm happy, but no one wants to be there for pathetic depressed mess I become during my episodes.

I think it's important for people to know how to be on their own. I see how dependent some people are on those around them, people who need to be in the company of others 24/7, and I almost feel sorry for the day that they're going to be forced to learn that they can't rely on somebody else for their happiness. But the problem in my case is I've had way too much practice in the art of being alone. I'm an expert, but by circumstance, not by choice.

I used to take pride in knowing how to be alone. It made me feel headstrong and independent, and I didn't worry about disappointing anyone as I had back in middle school. But now it's just left me cold and cynical. I go out of my way to avoid making connections so I can save myself the misery of people losing interest in me. I've resided to the inevitability of my loneliness, and as much as I want to blame everyone else for that, I know it's all my fault. I just wish I wasn't so forgettable.

I don't want to place blame on others.

I don't want people to pity me.

I don't want people to drop everything in their lives just to try and make me happy.

All I encourage people to do is just check in. Ask someone how their day was, send a "good morning" text to someone you haven't talk to in a while, stop putting off those plans to get coffee with an old friend, tell the people you love that you love them. Just check in. It's not much, it lets people know that there's someone out there who hasn't forgotten about them. One small action can make all the difference.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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