LONELINESS AND DEPRESSION
FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK
Loneliness and depression lead to clutching at straws of friendship. The Internet offers the straws to clutch.
I have 138 friends. I guess that makes me lucky. I have friends all over the world, and of all kinds I think; rich and poor, young and old, Muslim, Christian, Jew. 138 today - that’s one more than last week, 5 more than last month. Wow! I have more friends today than many people have in their entire lives! Indeed, I guess some of those in the remotest tribes of the world or those who lived in the smallest medieval villages of the past may never even have met 138 different human beings in their entire lives. So I am truly blessed.
And then someone new requests my friendship. How nice it is to be wanted! I respond immediately. She lives in New Jersey - so many thousands of miles away so we will never meet, but no matter. She is another friend. I now have 139 friends. Of course I wouldn’t recognise them if I passed them in the street. And maybe some of them I wouldn’t want to. But they are still my friends.
I sit alone at the computer in my room, enveloped in the virtual silence; the only sounds - the muffled drone of traffic on the street beyond the closed curtains, and the laughter of somebody’s children playing somewhere distant, and the occasional beep beep of incoming messages on the computer screen. And each message is warmly received; it signals the presence of some other soul who has nothing better to do with their time. It really makes me feel less alone to know there is another just like me. I check my e-mails just in case someone has sent me one, I surf the internet reading gossip, and I check out the latest offerings on YouTube and Twitter. And all the time Facebook hovers in the background of the cyberspace and I’ll sometimes scan the profiles of my many friends and read the messages they’ve sent to their other friends, who might one day also be my friends.
Time passes slowly in my quiet room as I wait for another beep, and another contact with the world beyond the curtains. And maybe the arrival of my 140th friend who doesn’t know me and doesn’t care about me.
LOSING A LOVE, BUT NEVER LOSING THE MEMORY
Loneliness and depression allows the mind to preoccupy itself with all the good things which have been lost in life, and it accentuates the sadness of that loss. Especially poignant when it is love that has been lost.
So sweet, so gentle, so pretty, my girl.
She was my reason for being. A constant glow to keep the fire in the soul, a burning light to delight the heart. A reason to exist, and a reason to continue. She was my soulmate, my life, my everything.
But now she is gone. The reasons do not matter to anyone but me. What matters is she's gone, and with her went a part of me which can never be replaced. It's of no consequence now what happens, nor how rich or how successful I may be, nor how well I may live. Because when that constant glow becomes a dying ember, and the burning light has faded, how can there ever be a future for me to cherish?
So now I sit alone with thoughts and memories for company, with nothing left to warm my soul, and nothing left to lighten my heart. And no one left to think about, and nothing left to dream about - except my memories.
I'd Love to Hear Your Comments. Thanks, Alun
This is a page which explores in a few short essays the emotions and behaviour patterns which can accompany the clinical state of depression, as well as one of its most prevalent, pernicious causative factors - the experience of being lonely.
I hope the page is not too depressing; all issues of this kind are easier to bear when the problem is understood and shared by others. And despite the truth that the subject is close to my heart, I did actually enjoy putting my thoughts down on paper - it is so much better than bottling them up!
LEAVING A MESS AROUND THE HOUSE
Loneliness and depression can result in a loss of enthusiasms and motivation, a loss of energy, and a loss of self-respect.
Today I will clean and tidy the house.
But first I will drink coffee and watch television. It's the easier option. And while I watch television, I can think about the cleaning and tidying. There's certainly plenty of that to do.
There is paperwork; bills to pay, letters to reply to. But they are not urgent. They can wait. Yesterday's newspaper remains on the coffee table, and the carpet hasn't been vacuum cleaned for months. But it's only dust. The dust is also gathering on the table tops, and on the chairs and the cupboards, but cleaning them is a chore which I don't feel inclined to bother with. I'm not expecting any guests - not this month anyway, and probably not next, so it's only me who will see the dust, and I can live with it OK. I see a spider crawling cross the carpet. Should I move it? No - leave it. It’s not doing anyone any harm. It’s got its own life to live, its own needs to forage for food, to find a partner. It’s living in its own little world, as I am living in mine. In the kitchen the used dinner plate is lying on the counter, and upstairs I know the washing which is still to be done lies strewn on the bedroom floor, whilst the laundry basket stays empty.
The cleaning and tidying will take time, and it will take me away from the television which is nice to watch. And maybe today I won't have time to clean anyway because I may decide to go out into town. I'll think about it while I watch the television.
I see a candy wrapper on the floor the other side of the coffee table. But to throw it away means getting up out of my chair; so I guess it can wait.
Maybe I won't go out after all. There's no one to go out with, and I'm tired, and I'd need to smarten up, and I'd rather watch the television. There's some repeats coming on that I've only seen a couple times before, and I'd like to watch them again.
Another day ends.
Tomorrow I will clean and tidy the house.
A CROWDED ROOM AND A FUN PARTY
Loneliness and depression lead to a sense of isolation and self-consciousness, a feeling of being unwanted, and even a self-destructive desire to be alone. Loneliness can be at its most acute, when you are least alone.
Bright, loud, vibrant; the room buzzes with the sounds of laughter and music and chatter, and the sparkle of the dancing lights, and the antics of the outgoing types who strut their stuff and make their presence felt, determined to have their fun, and spread the fun to all around. The intensity, the exuberance .....
..... the pressure, the anxiety.
I sit in a corner and smile so people think I’m having fun. Occasionally I make a decision to rise and walk to the bar just to make it seem like I’m a part of these people and this event, and I’ll buy a drink so I have something to hold - something to do with my hands so it doesn’t look as if I’m dull and frozen solid, attracting stares by doing nothing. I may wander out the room and back in again, just to ease the tension building in my chest.
Depression is a private affair, not for public consumption. The loneliness of an isolated soul in a crowded room, the discomfort and pain on show for all to see? - it's better by far to be alone in your own private home in your own private world where your thoughts are private, and where you can fill your time with all the things which make you comfortable - switch on the television or read a book, and leave the self-conscious discomfort behind in the public world.
THE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING
Loneliness and depression can lead to insomnia, and to a sense of hopelessness and despair and as one lies awake thinking about insurmountable problems.
It is 3 o’clock in the morning. Everything is silent and dark. I lay in bed alone and I am awake. I have been awake all night. The sleeping pill didn't work. I have twisted and turned and I have risen to get a drink, but now I lie in bed once more, still trying to sleep. And thinking. Problems always appear deeper and more difficult to resolve in the small hours of the night than they ever do in the daytime. Why is that, I wonder?
It is 4 o’clock in the morning. I lay and churn the issues round and around in my head, but I don’t want to because I know they are keeping me awake. I try to think of something else, something bright and optimistic. I try like Walter Mitty to imagine an adventure with me the focus of attention, or I try to fantasise about a chance encounter which brings me love and happiness. But I am too awake for such fanciful dreams to seem real. The problems come back to haunt my mind once more and I just cannot stop it happening. The brain that I want to drift into unconsciousness remains in overdrive.
It is now 5 o’clock in the morning. Daylight is fast approaching and still I have not slept. I try to close my mind to everything, to grab a couple of hours before rising for the day at work. It fills me with frustration and depression that my night of rest and recuperation is wasted, and it's now too late to benefit.
But now the day is breaking. I can hear the first birdsong of the dawn chorus through the window. Bright light will soon be streaming through the bedroom window and will shine upon me. And a new sunny day will bring a rejuvenated sense of optimism. I know this. I know the turmoil of trying to fathom out dark and hopeless problems will vanish in the light of a new day. I know that the insurmountable will suddenly feel surmountable. I drift gently into sleep.
LIVING FOR THE PRESENT
Loneliness and depression can lead to a life full of regrets about what was, and what might have been, and a life of worries about what may be in the future.
The past is a place of pleasures and regrets. The pleasures from the good times. The regrets for the good times long gone, for all the missed opportunities in life, and for the loved ones lost who I wish with intense fervour were still here. I try to think 'is it better to have good memories or bad memories of the past?'
Good memories make you wish with all your heart that you might once again experience those good times, those loved ones - a wish which you know can never now come true. That makes you sad.
Bad memories make you regret you didn’t make more of the past, and never lived life to the full. They make you regret a wasted life and the choices you made. That makes you sad.
The future is a place to which I do not wish to go. A place of fear and trepidation. I envisage it alone, without family, without career, a future filled with emptiness. An empty road and no horizon to head towards. Nothing to hope for as age drags me down.
The present is where I choose to live. You cannot regret the present because there's nothing yet done to occasion regret. You cannot fear the present because it is already here upon us. So one can be positive and take a different road - one with a new horizon. I wake each day to a clean, untarnished present. A present in which I can change things. A present with a future.