REFLECTIONS ON

LONELINESS AND DEPRESSION

FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK


Loneliness and depression lead to clutching at the 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 will have in their entire lives! I guess some of those in the remotest tribes and some of those who lived in the smallest medieval villages of past centuries 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 any of them if I passed them in the street. And maybe some of them I wouldn’t want to. But they are still my friends on Facebook.

I sit alone at the computer in my room, enveloped by virtual silence; the only sound - 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 beep is warmly received; it signals the presence of some other poor 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 the gossip pages, 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 it will herald the arrival of my 140th friend who doesn’t know me and doesn’t care.

LOSING A LOVE, BUT NEVER THE MEMORY

 

Loneliness and depression forces 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 the reason for being. A constant glow to keep fire in the soul, a burning light to delight the heart. A reason to exist, and a reason to continue to exist. She was my soulmate, my life, my everything.

 

But now she is gone. The reasons do not matter. What matters is she's gone, and with her, a part of me which can never be replaced. It's of no consequence what happens now, nor how rich or how successful I may become, nor how well I 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 my thoughts and memories for company, with nothing left to warm my soul, and nothing left to lighten my heart. And no one to think about, and nothing 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 some of the emotions and behaviour patterns which can accompany the clinical state of depression, as well as one of its most prevalent and pernicious causative factors - the experience of being lonely.

I hope the page is not too depressing; I think 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 own 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 and more attractive 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 and 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 away? 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 still to be done lies strewn on the bedroom floor, whilst the laundry basket remains empty.

The cleaning and tidying will take a lot of time, and it will take me away from the television. 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 it can wait till later.

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 FUN PARTY IN A CROWDED ROOM


Loneliness and depression lead to a sense of isolation, a feeling of being discarded and 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 excitement, the exuberance .....

 

   ..... the pressure, the anxiety.

I sit in a corner and smile so people may think I’m having fun. Occasionally I make the 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. I don’t want it to look as if I’m frozen and dull, attracting stares by doing nothing. I may wander out the room for a while just to ease the tension building in my chest. Then I'll wander back in again.

 

Depression is a private affair, it's not for public consumption. The loneliness of an isolated soul in a crowded room, your discomfort and pain on show for all to see? 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 the things that 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 as one lies awake in bed 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 myself a drink, but now I lie in bed once more, trying once again to sleep. And thinking. Problems always appear deeper and more impossible 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 there, churning issues round and around in my head, but I don’t want to do that, because I know they are keeping me awake. I try to think of something else, something bright and optimistic. I try Walter Mittyesque to imagine myself the focus of attention in an adventure, 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 to me. 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 total 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 at least 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 stream through the bedroom window and it 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. And so I drift gently into sleep.

LIVING FOR THE PRESENT

 

Loneliness and depression can lead to a life of regrets about what was, and what might have been, and a life full 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 also for the good times long gone, for all the missed opportunities in life, and for all the loved ones lost who I fervently wish 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 more experience those good times, those loved ones - a wish which you know will never now come true. That makes you sad.

  • Bad memories make you regret you didn’t make more of the past, that you never lived life to the full. They make you regret a wasted life and all 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 full of emptiness. An empty road and no horizon to head towards. Nothing to hope for as old age drags me down.

The present is where I choose to live. You cannot regret the present because there's nothing yet done to regret. You cannot fear the present because it is already upon us. So one can be positive about the present 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 choose to change things. A present with a future.

ALUN RHYS GRIFFITHS

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