People talk about loneliness as if it only happens to the old and the friendless, it’s not often associated with those who have a group of friends and family. It’s a strange kind of loneliness that can affect anybody, but for the mentally unwell loneliness in a crowded room is a very real phenomenon.
Mental illness creeps into your life and forces you to start looking inward. When the problem is your own mind you can get swept up in it easily, and begin to isolate yourself from others both physically and mentally. Knowing that you are ill and your friends and family can’t truly understand what you are going through, creates a mental gulf between you and them. You feel like an outsider looking in as your social connections seem stretched and frayed. If you can, you feel like you should try to keep up appearances and you smile and laugh and join in where you can and try to include yourself to feel the once strong connection again but the opposite usually happens, instead, because you don’t voice your real feelings and emotions you feel even greater feelings of social disconnectedness. You feel left behind.
Social media has a somewhat bad reputation for isolating people rather than connecting them. However I don’t think we should be so quick to judge. At some of my lowest ebbs social media has been the only connection to the outside world I had, as well as helping me to find others like me in various groups and forums. Some people find social media indispensable for them and I don’t think we should be so quick to condemn them for the way they choose to interact. Surely it is the quality of our interactions that matter, rather than how those interactions are made.
Loneliness is a significant problem in people with mental ill health, for a number of reasons so making yourself a safe place is really important. To make yourself a safe place for people to talk without fear of rejection or ridicule could make all the difference to people who are frightened to speak out or who are covering up their true feelings.


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