Loneliness, Stigma and the Importance of Meaningful Relationships.
Updated: Apr 1
In a world of social media, easier means of contact and connecting by our fingertips, meaningful relationships can be harder to form. Sometimes loneliness can be overlooked for those who have friends, engage fully with life and are not retired. We spoke to a single father who has highlighted the effects of loneliness, stigma and the importance of meaningful relationships. The conversation touched on many areas as it flowed and we have broken this down on how the talk developed to help better understand the impacts on loneliness and how this affects daily life, speaking out and building relationships.
This is me, lost as can be. I once was a person with my head held high, loving my life as time passes by. I look for you god, I am so lost in my way, I feel so alone at the end of the day. The night comes upon and I go to my bed, ready to tackle the thoughts that stir in my head. Many many nights ill lay there and cry, wish my life were over and wanting to die. These are real thought that live in my head, please listen to me god I am at the end of my bed! My tears dry up and my eyes shut tight, I am falling asleep, I am seeing the light. I am feeling happy as I enter a dream, wish I could stay here but life’s calling me, my eyes flicker open, the daylight I see. Another day starts and I stare up above, dear god if you see me, please bring me some love.
Mental health impact: Loneliness does not come in one form. Many experiences can cause loneliness, in this individual, loneliness went further than a relationship break-up, and was deeper rooted right back to childhood. The father of two was adopted. Individuals who are adopted have a higher risk of experienced mental health disorders. According to many studies, the most common mental health issues formed by adoptees are.
· oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
· attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
· major depressive disorder
· separation anxiety disorder
All of which have and are experienced by this individual. Although these have not always been so significant, events can trigger and heighten the effects of these experiences. Loneliness being one.
Stigma: There is stigma attached to loneliness which this person has and is still facing. From face value, this gentleman is easy going, fun, has many friends, has great experiences and lives quite the life. But as we should all know this does not determine what goes on inside. What is difficult for this man is the lack of meaningful relationships. Meaningful relationships are important for all of us. Comfort, advice, offloading and love. When this is missing, it does not matter what type of life you live, going home alone is very lonely for him. For this gentleman, social media is how he connects in these lonely periods, but this is not enough as this does not meet realistic needs. As he does not have the type of meaningful relationship he wants, also struggling with confidence to talk about his mental health, speaking on social media has become an output for lonely feelings and general offloading. When these statuses are released, they are often met with, “come round here mate”, “don’t be silly mate, you’re okay”, and this becomes the only result. What is not being noticed is his struggles, where these feelings are from and what could be done to help, rather than saying “you are okay mate”. For him, asking for help is not the issue. It is by being able to talk about what he really feels, it is the missing feeling of love and a real companionship.
Meaningful relationships: Meaningful relationships come in many forms, for this Dad, he has his children, but a companion is missing. With so much love to give, and the feeling of love being missed right back to childhood, this has become even more depressing for him. Although he has many friends, meaningful ones are more limited. Even though friends offer and want to spend time with him, he does not lack friends or things to do, it is the empty shell of being at home afterwards. Here is where social media becomes useful for him, or at least at the time. Unfortunately, due to struggling with confidence when talking about his deeper feelings, social media is displaying the lonely side to him as being his output to these feelings, this worries friends, even confuses them.
Loneliness: Being alone is a sad place for this man. From feeling lonely as early as a child and struggling with talking about his feelings has caused distressing experiences for him. To the point of feeling suicidal and writing goodbye letters. Stopping himself when having a glimpse of the damage this would do to his children has prevented this from happening. The day times are easier, happier and productive, but the empty house he goes home to is very lonely for him and again triggers a spiral of sad and distressing thoughts, flipping the brighter days into gloomy nights. Although this father is very aware of what is stemming these feelings, what is typically said to help does not. He has friends, he works, he gets out, he exercises, he does see the brighter side of life. But none of these helps those lonely evenings.
We have offered this man the opportunity to speak to a professional, who will listen and listen only. This story is difficult and very personal for this man. We have provided useful books and links to help with intrusive thoughts and other books which help to work on self-love, confidence and finding alternative thinking styles in those lonely times.