Today’s post is quite a personal one… How to cope with feelings of loneliness and dissociation. I’ve experienced both over the years and still do effect me to this day. Both feelings are awful and can be really scary but as we talk about it together hopefully loneliness will start to go!
Starting with dissociation, I will explain what it means, how it can be identified etc. for you all that don’t actually know what it is. Dissociation is one way the mind copes with too much stress, such as during a traumatic event. The word dissociation can be used in different ways but it usually describes an experience where you feel disconnected in some way from the world around you or from yourself. However, it may not take a traumatic event to occur for dissociative feelings to occur. It can also be caused as a side effect to certain types of medication. Others can go into a dissociative state as a way of calming down.
In my experience I have dealt with dissociation when being extremely depressed. This could be due to the high stress levels I also experience when being very down. My depression is not triggered by anything in particular it just comes and goes. I know a lot of people in my life have the thought process of “not wanting to upset me in case it triggers me” but this isn’t the case at all. However, when these low states come there is no way I can escape it apart from just riding it out. I find dissociation really scary as I can recognise the feeling of detaching from everything but cannot stop it. This ties hand in hand with the feeling of loneliness. Compared to the last few years, I rarely deal with dissociative episodes anymore. I am in the best mental state I have been in for a long time. However, for some of you reading this I know you are not quite there yet. That is okay. We are all on our own journeys and are all learning in our own ways. There is no time constraint on “getting better”, it is when your body is ready to get better.
Loneliness. It is a feeling most, if not all people experience at least once in their life. Another way of understanding what loneliness feels like is isolation. You could be in a room full of friends and still feel alone, however this isn’t what you imagine when reading the word “lonely”. Having a large group of friends is something I am really lucky to have. However, it doesn’t take away from the feeling of loneliness I sometimes feel. I am my own worst enemy sometimes because I know when I am feeling lonely I should reach out to people, but I am so afraid I will be brushed aside I talk myself out of doing so. The following is my thought process when feeling lonely, it is not logical or right so please do not think I am advising this at all:
“They don’t care, if they cared they would have messaged me, they have more important people in their life than me, they don’t need me to bother them with my problems”
Thinking like this sometimes makes me angry at everyone else even though they haven’t even done anything. Which is wrong of me. But when in that mindset I cannot stop myself.
The best way of coping with loneliness, literally contradicts what I have just said my thought process is when I am feeling lonely, but as I said I recognise I am not being logical. Opening up and letting people in to help you, it is a slow process and you can take it as slow as you need too. It is not a race. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your current friends or family, maybe it is time to establish new connections. You can do this by joining a volunteer group, establishing old friendships again, or just making the effort to reach out to new people.
Something I do a lot is compare myself to others and it is very hard to stop comparing ourselves to others, we all do it, but it can help to just be aware that things are not always what they seem from the outside. With social media what we all need to remember is we only see what other people want to share about their lives, and therefore can make us feel like we are the only ones feeling lonely. It’s important to remind yourself that you don’t know how people feel when they are alone, or when they log out of social media.
Make regular checks on yourself as feeling lonely can be very stressful and therefore have more of a bigger impact on your general well being. Are you getting a balance amount of sleep? Too much or too little can affect your emotions. Is your confidence knocked from feeling lonely? Are you getting enough exercise? Exercise is proven to help low moods.
Feeling lonely is scary but there are people that care. Please see below for a list of organisations that can help.
Mental Health Foundation
020 7803 1101
Improving the lives of those with mental health problems or learning difficulties.
020 7780 7300
Supports people through mental health services.
0845 123 2320
Provides information and support to those who are affected by depression via publications, supporter services and a network of self-help groups.
020 7336 8445
Provides information and advice for anyone with concerns about the mental health of a child or young person.
Free, national helpline for children and young people in trouble or danger.
Relate – Where I receive my counselling from.
0300 100 1234
Offers advice, relationship counselling, sex therapy, workshops, mediation, consultations and support.
08444 775 774
Works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding via an extensive range of services, including 1:1 therapy.
A free, online counselling service which allows you live chat access to trained counsellors. There are also free journals for you to log your feelings and chats to speak to other young people.