Often when thinking about loneliness, people think about the elderly. There are schemes set up to support elderly people so that they do not have to be on their own all of the time. People have an awareness and understanding that elderly people are vulnerable to loneliness and will therefore call in for a cup of tea and so on. I remember as a child, my Great Gran lived alone and everybody knew she was lonely and so we would call in and take her out for lunch or bring fish and chips to her house. My extended family would always make sure that she had somewhere to go on Christmas day but on top of the support from family and friends she was part of a social group that would go to bingo or have dinners and so on.
I don’t feel that it is always recognised that young people can be, and are, lonely too. I am 22 years old and I often spend all day, every day on my own. The reason being mental illness.
The loneliness is crushing, painful. It makes me feel as though I’m nothing. Worthless. I am just an existence in a house that nobody knows about. There are times when I don’t notice the loneliness quite so much, maybe I spent the day listening to music or reading or I saw someone from my mental health team and it helped me to feel less alone but there are other days when it’s overwhelming.
I have an older sister who will often go for coffee or to Cardiff with her friends, she might go on a night out or go to a restaurant for someones’ birthday. Those are the times when the loneliness hits me. I let all these opportunities and events pass me by. I can’t go to see my favourite band in concert because I have nobody to go with. There are place I want to go, things I want to do and see but I can’t because I don’t want to go there on my own.
This year I went to a fireworks display for the first time in a years. I went with my Dad because I don’t have any friends my own age that live nearby. It was such a good display, everyone had glow sticks and they were playing songs with a beat and people were dancing in the dark, waving their glow sticks in the air and I was just stood there wishing that I had friends. I wanted to dance, I wanted to have fun but I couldn’t do that on my own.
I haven’t had an invite to a New Year’s party for the past 4 years. The past 4 years I have counted in the New Year alone or I’ve gone to bed and pretended to be asleep whilst silently crying to the sound of the fireworks going off. It always makes me feel so unimportant, so worthless that nobody thought of me, nobody wanted to count the New Year in with me. I absolutely dread that night, it is the worst night for loneliness by far.
I often make a joke at Christmas time that I love having no friends because it’s so cheap. It is only a joke though. How much I wish I could go to a Christmas party or take part in Secret Santa. I would love that. I love celebrating with my parents don’t get me wrong but I am 22 and I would love to do something more age appropriate.
I think it is important to remember that anybody can be lonely. The elderly man that gets on the bus each morning can be lonely but so can the young girl with perfectly straightened hair and fair isle leggings and the young man who always wears his headphones around his neck. This year at Christmas remember that people from all walks of life can be alone, but especially think about those around you that suffer with mental illness and have very few friends. Why not pop in for a cup of tea or invite them to your Christmas party? Lets conquer loneliness.