Loneliness and Depression
Loneliness and depression goes together as loneliness underpins all mental health issues, and certainly all types of depression cause deep loneliness for many people.
Loneliness is an awful gnawing and plaguing sense of unease and separation from the world, and normally gives rise to ugly feelings of separation, disconnection and alienation which in turns breeds resentment, contempt for others, anger, isolation and dejection. An increased awareness of self-consciousness, depersonalization, rumination, mental distortion and inward focus often go alongside the experience of loneliness, especially if that experience is protracted.
Loneliness and depression is a modern plague in all senses of the word. It’s much more pronounced in richer wealthier nations with less focus on extended family and traditional community models of health and restoration. Psychologists will tell you one of the most frequent experiences they discuss with patients is the fact that so many of them feel so utterly lonely and depressed. They often want to forge some meaningful connections with people in their lives but don’t know how or seem unable to do in spite of their best efforts.
Social media not exactly helping loneliness and depression
Social media promotes superficial validation and recognition from people who often don’t really know or understand them on a deeper level. Lonely people often wonder why so many of their relationships feel vague, superficial and not meaningful enough. Modern technological developments promise so much instant gratification, sensory titillation, but delivers so little when it comes to gratification based on sound relationships with others. Deep-seated loneliness is on the rise and unsurprisingly so is depression, both beyond epidemic proportions.
The thirst to quench feelings of ill ease and loneliness is powerful and drives many to unhelpful behaviour, in order to secure some feeling of inner peace, contentment and connectedness. It is easy to judge alcoholics and drug addicts as people who choose to make bad choices and need to live with the consequences and repercussions. But get to know these people by name, build a decent, human-to-human relationship with them and you’ll find that they are desperately lonely people wanting companionship, love and some sort of validation of their being. They want their uniqueness appreciated.
The need for intimate and loving friendships and relationships is all too human. If you are human you have this craving, you can’t choose not to have it. You can intellectually choose to repress this need or feeling, however it will come back to bite whether you like it or not and effect you consciously or unconsciously if you like it or not.
Loneliness and depression doesn’t mean having no friends or outlets . On the contrary, you can be alone and not lonely. Loneliness is not about that at all. That’s a superficial examination that doesn’t correlate with subjective truths and actual facts. Loneliness is an inner subjective experience that’s sometimes hard to define. All people, at one stage of life or another, would have experienced loneliness; it’s deeply part of the human connection and drives people to reach out and make themselves understood in this world.
I believe a lot of human motivation and experience life hinges around being heard, understood and accepted. The experience of loving and being loved is deeply connected with validation and being understood, heard and accepted for who you really are.
Mental health problems often entail protracted periods of painful, hurtful feelings, people struggling to be around people who have negative and downtrodden feelings all the time, as they tend to put a dampener on social settings. This unfortunately drives lonely marginalized people to feel more lonely and marginalised, which may continue to drive misguided attention seeking behaviour.
How to beat loneliness and depression
It’s often first and foremost achieved by learning to be comfortable in your skin, to learn to properly love yourself and be content with your own company. And get this: it can’t be completely cured and beaten, it’s part of the shadow side of man that must be accepted. But it doesn’t mean it needs to beat you down and defeat you, it’s just you can accept that feelings of loneliness and depression will come and go, they do not have to engulf and torture you.
If people really believe and act out of the erroneous presupposition that this future event, thing or that person will quench that feeling of unease or loneliness and depression then the game is already lost and the mental framework needs to be redrawn completely again.
This takes time, energy, devotion and patience, and often lots of trial and error will lead people to understand my preciously mentioned point, understanding this is really getting close to experiencing true liberation and peace and loneliness will dissolve into the night sky with a brilliant dawn onward marching.
Learning to truly love yourself and accept your fragility and limitations doesn’t come naturally, overnight or in many cases easily, it takes work, time, reflection, intelligence and most of all perseverance. But you can do it.
Like all conditions we discuss on these sites, there are no easy way out and lots of hard work is often needed. Mental health is never a given or an automatic right, life’s complexity prevents it from being so. But realise both loneliness and depression can be beaten.
Don’t try and shield yourself completely from loneliness and depression. People will have lonely days and that’s OK. As previously mentioned it is part of the human condition. Running away from it paradoxically strengthens it hold on you. Understanding and accepting this shadow side of the human being is also fundamental in personal growth and recovery. This is where acceptance is key, not acceptance that you will be lonely forever, but accepting that it normal for these feelings to occur from time to time.
Beating loneliness and depression starts with being alone, and getting totally cozy with that – get this!
It counterintuitive – like a lot of things in recovery really.
People, things, objects, idealized and imagined grandiose social situations and connections, which often rarely transpire, do not, I repeat DO NOT, cure loneliness. They may afford temporary alleviation of the experience of loneliness but that feeling will persist to a lesser or greater degree and it will eventually return with force.
Beating loneliness and depression can start with mutual support groups
How I Beat strongly advocate a holistic model of recovery when it comes to rehabilitation and often this includes linking in with a support group. In these setting you can often unload your heart to someone else who understands and has been there can be amazingly gratifying and uplifting. Online communities may be a necessary start but be aware of the dangers and limitations these communities present.
And other similar hobby groups can be a good place to start as they are often replete with people who relate to your experience and so sufficient common ground is already established which provides adequate conversational launch pads and sounding boards. Remember real, true lasting friendship takes time, life in general sees many different people coming in and out of your life but it doesn’t mean friendship, lifelong friends can and do exist. These an be excellent outlets to heal loneliness and depression.
Friendship is important when beating loneliness and depression
True quality friendship is key to beating loneliness and depression. The whole definition and notion of friendship can be so ill-defined thanks to plethora of social networks. An online social connection is not necessarily a friend or someone who knows about you.
When we speak of friendship we are referring to something a lot more deeper, long lasting and real. It’s not all about good times either; it’s about sharing your life together, the triumphs and pitfalls together. Ultimately it’s someone who you can share your heart and vulnerabilities with without fear of condemnation, judgement and rejection. It also someone who whom can trust to criticise and speak your mind and heart too. Friendship takes time to cultivate, and trials and straining points will happen. Quality of friendship plays a part in mental health, often to avoid feelings of despair and pain people can shield themselves around people but not connect with them on a deeper level. Shallow, perfunctory and empty relationships often surround the sufferer, they thirst for something more genuine, something more real. And remember, and this is crucial, to have a friend is to be a friend. It cuts both ways, and like any relationship requires work, effort, initiative on your part.
Engaging in hobbies
We can realise skills, usefulness and function in hobbies. Loneliness and depression is not just about social connections and popularity as we have previous gone over, it often comes down to social utility and worth and ones perspective on how much of their being, their person has in this respect.
Find something you love to do, a great antidote against loneliness and depression
Finding something you are good at – art, painting, exercise, music, writing blogs whatever can release creative talent – is a great way to eliminate loneliness and feel that, in spite of their being an audience or not, you are contributing to the world that you are part of the nature of things. What are you good at? What makes you feel like a victor? What gives you a taste of the divine? Hobbies in and of themselves can often release emotional blockages. I have heard numerous stories that affirm this. Singing can release rigidity. Writing can better connect the two brain hemispheres. Dancing can release. We can’t answer what is best for you, but we can loudly proclaim that getting involved in hobbies and ensure they are regular, is a vital way to beat loneliness.
Note the Risks
WikiHow’s article on loneliness raises legitimate concern about the risks lonely people can especially in regards to joining cults and other predatory organisations looking to exploit and manipulate the lonely person’s vulnerability. This is important to note; be careful if you are in a vulnerable and lonely position. Use caution with social networks and online communities as feelings of emptiness and exclusion can ironically be exacerbated when using these sites as well, as possible predatory forces are online too.
We want you to beat loneliness and depression and we hope this information has pointed you in the right direction.
References and further reading