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The Multiple Faces of Loneliness

“I don’t fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents like a holiday at the beach.”


Mary Roach

One of the contradictions with depression is it can be common when the person who suffers through it is surrounded by people who love them and yet the person still feels alone. It is what appears to be a flaw in the logic. Depression is illogical and the brain when ill cannot work correctly.

I write this blog post in a state of deep depression today. I have been depressed going on four days now. It is not a situational depression either. I am struggling and yet I feel absolutely alone and abandoned. This is not true, however as I have a wife and kids who love me and I have a few good friends. Yet, here is where I am at this point in time. I am writing and struggling to get words on paper as I feel unloved, unwanted, and ignored. I am going to push on with getting this down. 

I want to talk on the topic of loneliness. I do not have a real thesis statement regarding loneliness. I also do not have a goal, plan, or point regarding this blog post. This is me getting my thoughts down on the topic of loneliness. There are several kinds of loneliness, but I am going to talk about the two kinds that I deal with emotional loneliness and social loneliness (Dell, Pelham, & Murphy, 2019). Putting a line in the sand between these two different flavors of the same emotional state helps me focus on where the problem stems from. Now I realize my problem is depression, but when I focus on the feelings around it and analyze it a bit I can almost find some balance.

There is the emotional loneliness which is defined as “the perceived inadequacy of intimate relationships” (Dell et al., 2019, p. 1). I know this kind of loneliness to be a lie as my wife and I are intimate. I am not talking just about sex, but also the hugging, holding of hands, ​​​​​spending time with one another doing mundane little things on a day to day basis. All of these things between us and help define our relationship to one another makes this kind of loneliness a blatant lie. It is something that simply does not exist as I am in an intimate relationship with my wife. We have been married for twenty-five years this June 2nd., 2019. While the first few years of our marriage was rough due to my own communication issues, we eventually worked through them and have a great marriage now. We are going amazingly well.

Social loneliness, however, is a bit trickier and there are truths to this definition beyond depression for myself. Social loneliness is defined as, “the perceived inadequacy of the companionship and community derived from one’s broader social network.” (Dell et al., 2019, p. 1). The reason that this is trickier is that there is nothing really perceived about it. I am very much socially lonely. I am 45 years old, I am still amazingly awkward and very shy. I am introverted and generally in pain every single day due to my diverticular disease, stomach issues, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. I am continuously exhausted from all of this. I have a dear friend who I do not get to see often enough and I realize how much of my fault that is. I told some friends I was suffering through depression and when I left a game we mutually played together, only 1 person reached out to see if I was ok. I was not testing anyone, I was going through a real issue and fell into that well of loneliness. I have one local friend, one in Canada, and another friend in New York. The hardest part is that 2/3rds of the people who reach out to me are nowhere close to me. It is impossible to get those social muscles flexed when you cannot go hang out with them. I mentioned before, I have one local friend and between my mental and physical pains, I am not a good friend to him in return.

In the past couple of months, I have tried to put myself out there, but the internet is horrible for this. The internet brings people together, but you lose inflection and all of those non-verbal communication signals we send out. In the end, I feel that I make a ton of new acquaintances and nothing substantial with deep philosophy or kinship behind it. 

For me to get me fueled up and sated so that social loneliness does not have a chance to sink its grips into me means that I need to get out more. Even if online where I could video interface with people to play Dungeons & Dragons or chat, doing something.

My biggest fear, and it is unfounded really, is that at my age perhaps I am left behind. That I am at the beginning stages of following into relic status and this is just how it is as we get older. I know that is my depression talking.

References

Dell, N. A., Pelham, M., & Murphy, A. M. (2019). Loneliness and Depressive Symptoms in Middle Aged and Older Adults Experiencing Serious Mental Illness. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 1-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/prj0000347

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