Loneliness Awareness Week

“We get lonely but we don’t all get loneliness.”

To recap on yesterday’s post ‘let’s talk loneliness’,​ I found this helpful summing up in the Marmalade Trust website’s ‘loneliness guide’ (-well worth a visit but not just yet, which is why I’m leaving the links till the end!)

“We all feel lonely at times – it’s a normal human emotion. We’re biologically wired for social contact, and loneliness is our signal that we need more. [1]

​The definition: Loneliness is a perceived mismatch between the quality or quantity of social connections that a person has and what they would like to have [2].”

So what impact can it have? Here are some of our group members’ thoughts

“it’s manageable in small doses but can be harmful if prolonged.”

“You can lose your confidence a bit when you’re having to do things on your own and the longer it goes on, the worse it gets.”

“If you’re prone to depression, it can make it worse..”

“If you can’t talk to anyone, you can go in on yourself.”

“I was isolated for a year in my flat. It was horrible.”

How do we react or respond to loneliness?

I’d been intrigued, then challenged by the campaign slogan:’we get lonely but we don’t all get loneliness.'[3] I discovered I hadn’t ‘got’ loneliness, tending to view it negatively and afflicting some, rather than as something natural that we all experience to some extent at different times. I discovered my reaction is fairly common, if the folk in our groups are anything to go by.  Many regarded loneliness as something to be ‘tackled’ or resisted, almost a sign of weakness otherwise.

“I have my moments – I get a bit down and lonely. Then I have to say to myself there are folk worse off than me and give myself a wee shake.”

” I agree. I think you’ve just got to get on with it. You can’t wallow in self-pity and loneliness.”

“You can get into a rut if you get out of the habit of going out and meeting people.”

At the same time, there was recognition of the fact that ‘we’re all different’ and can react to loneliness in different ways. Also that loneliness requires us to adapt and this is a sign of strength, not weakness.

“Fortunately I’ve got quite a placid nature. I don’t let it build up within me to an unbearable stage. I think I had some happy years with D (-wife), but she’s gone now and I’ve just had to get used to being on my own.”

“I think really and truly you’ve got to adapt. I’m in the house on my own more or less from Sunday to Sunday except when I have visits from my son and daughter. That’s only courtesy visits you know. I’m reasonably happy on my own now. Took a while but I can contain it now. I quite like being on my own. I can sit without the radio or TV or anything else on, quite happy, just thinking. It’s just the way I am. I like to see my friends at the weekend. Go for a couple of pints and chat about football or whatever. It’s good, I like that.”

“It’s not weakness to be able to manage this (-loneliness brought about by the Pandemic). It’s proof of courage. You’re strong if you’re able to get through it with your mind relatively in one piece still!”

Find out more about loneliness.

[1] https://www.marmaladetrust.org/lonelinessguide
[2] Perlman, Daniel, and L. Anne Peplau. “Toward a social psychology of loneliness.” Personal relationships 3 (1981): 31-56.
[3] https://www.marmaladetrust.org/law

Next: What helps people to manage loneliness?