Overcoming loneliness by being proactive
I live in a big city, one that millions of people call home. Yet days could pass by before one of those millions of people remember that I live here too. See, I have a medical condition that means I spend most of my days lying in bed looking out the window as all those millions of people walk past on their way to work, or a bar, or to do their shopping, or to yoga classes. But no one even looks up to see me in the window.
I get a bit stir crazy at times. Sometimes days can go by where the only human contact I have is from doctors and care takers. It’s pretty demoralizing when the only time someone calls is to see if you’ve taken you tablets or had a piss since you last spoke, and the only time someone comes in to see you is to give you an injection or stretch your leg muscles.
Loneliness has just become part of my life now. I used to think isolation meant living somewhere like Antarctica, but it’s not just about physical isolation; it can be part of life anywhere.
About a month ago I hit rock bottom. For 10 days I had stayed at home, I only left the house three times during that period for an hour each time to see a specialist Dr, and for the rest of the time I was stuck at home with only my care taker for company. No one had called and no one came to see me, I didn’t even get any emails that weren’t chain mails or group emails. Eventually I broke down in tears and declared I could no longer go on. If the world had forgotten me, what was the point of being alive?
My caretaker spoke to one of my friends and begged him to call. When he rang that night I just sobbed and sobbed, I kept saying ‘I am so lonely, I can’t cope anymore.’ When I eventually hung up the phone I felt a little better. He’d hardly said a word, but just having someone on the other end of the phone to listen to me sob had helped. The simple fact that there was another human being out there prepared to spend some time on the phone to me was medicine for the soul.
I made a decision that I had to stop letting the world forget about me. Getting out of the house was difficult, so visiting people was a rare and special treat. I made an effort to start calling at least one person a day. Sometimes it was a close friend, others an old colleague, or one of my relatives. When you’ve been cooped up all on your own for hours and hours, even just hearing someone’s voice for a few minutes can make a huge difference to your day. I’ve been re-learning how to use a computer too, so I can email people. Emails are great because you can print them out and read them when you are lonely or bored. And who doesn’t love that beeping noise your phone makes when you get a text message!
There are still days when no one answers their phone, or email, or they forget to drop in a visit you. But I think those days happen to everyone, I just try and remember that it doesn’t mean the whole world doesn’t want to know about me, it just means I might have to find another way to entertain myself today, and try again tomorrow.