Mental Health Awareness Week - loneliness

 The theme of mental health awareness week 2022 is loneliness. Many people don't realise loneliness is the little talked about, but large killer, in society. It's ironic that we're more connected to each other than ever before with technology, yet loneliness and isolation is on the rise, not just in the elderly but in young people too.

I've been pondering all day what to say in this post because in the course of my volunteering over a large number of years loneliness is a huge factor in people's mental health issues. There's various factors at play due to the changes in society meaning families are often spread apart, and time is a huge factor too.

As a society we're more cash rich and time poor than ever before. The time issues don't just stem from workload, there are a number of people who just don't want to give much time to others. I know I've certainly come across quite a few people who make it blatantly obvious you're impinging on their time and they have other things to do, that's usually unless they want something from you! I definitely feel quality of life would be improved for so many if we slow the heck down, stop with the ridiculous pressure to do everything, and just allow ourselves to be.

Another factor is social media, yes we're connected but what is the quality of those connections? I'm very lucky I have a few really close friends I've made on social media in the chicken community and beyond, but I realise for many their scrolling of social media compounds their feelings of isolation. In the chicken community we're usually sharing posts of our hens rather than the sterile and curated "living my best life" type of feed more commonly found on social media. If you are feeling low and you think social media isn't helping it's a great exercise to go through your feed and ask: "is this person/account supporting my wellbeing?" If it's not then you can mute if it's difficult to unfollow them.

You can be lonely around people, even in relationships, especially long term ones where both partners have changed. Humans have a natural need for intimacy, not just physical but emotional intimacy too. It's difficult for one person to provide all of our needs, especially over many years. 

I think in essence what loneliness boils down to is not having someone who understands you. We all need someone you can rock your weird with and they get that. Someone you can tell your deepest feelings to and they'll listen and try to see things from your point of view, they won't judge you. Someone you can rely on for unconditional support.

 I think I've lost count of the wasted number of hours of my life I've spent trying to explain myself to people committed to misunderstanding me. I took me a long time to realise those people are not my tribe. The world can seem a bleak place if you're lonely so please reach out to someone. There are safe non judgemental places you can talk about how you feel such as Samaritans on 116123 and Shout text 85258. And your tribe is out there, don't give up hope, there are people who will understand how you feel.

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