Mental Health Awareness Week – Rachael from YoungMinds on loneliness
11 May, 2022
When I lived at home, I used to feel very lonely. I didn't have a good relationship with my family, and often found myself alone in my bedroom. I also struggle with making friends so didn't always have a friend I could turn to in times that I needed someone to talk to either. I usually just found myself something to do to keep myself occupied, to pass the time. If it was a time I had friends then I could spend time with them, whether in person or just sending messages back and forth, and I did have my dog which really helped me feel less alone, as she was always there when I needed company.
I really managed to overcome my feelings of loneliness when I moved out. It might seem strange, that moving away from family into a house with someone you've never met in an area where you don't know anyone could make you feel less lonely, but for me it really did. At home I had people there, but because I wasn't close to anyone it often felt like I was completely on my own, with no one to turn to if I needed help. But now I have a new family, new friends, and so many people that I speak to and see on a regular basis. It really does make a difference to have people around you that care about you, and that you care about too, as it's the number of relationships you have, rather than the number of people, that keeps a person from being lonely.
The pandemic was a really hard time for me, dealing with loneliness. Being stuck in with family was hard enough, and the friends I had recently made weren't really around either. While everyone else seemed to be having parties on zoom, I was calling helplines just to try and speak to somebody who would be able to help with the problems I was experiencing. It felt like I was the only person without someone, and as plans went on in the town to contact people who had been visiting the mental health café, no one contacted me. I'm not sure there is anything anyone higher up could have done to help loneliness, but for someone who knew me to give me some thought and reach out when I felt unable to would have meant so much.
If you are currently feeling lonely, I would say to try and make connections. For so long I've had an internet friend, who I could speak to when I had no one else to turn to. Even if there's no one in real life you can speak to, just having someone there is so important. If you have the ability to get a pet that's also a good way to combat loneliness, and can also help you make human connections too. And if you're lonely because you're in a similar situation to what I was, then try and find yourself a new family. Honestly the best thing I ever did for my mental health. On a serious note though, do just keep going. You'll find someone out there eventually, whether family or just good friend, who will mean you never have to be lonely again.
Written by Rachael, 23, she/her, YoungMinds Activist