Its Lonely At The Bottom
I have been thinking a lot about the difference between being alone and being lonely lately. I’m a single, independent woman with my own home and a full time career….I love that part of my life. Do I want to have a relationship that works out (for once!)? Absolutely. Do I need that? Not at all. Sure, I have a fear of ending up alone but at the same time I am not paralyzed by it because I know I can stand on my own two feet. I know I have people that will always be there for me. That’s been proven many times over. Being alone doesn’t scare me; being lonely does.
When I am hit with an episode of depression, I reach out to people for help. It’s one of the items in my toolbox that is essential for my functioning. I talk (too much some would say!), I text, I email, I try and arrange social time because I need it. Believe it or not, at heart I am an introvert (I swear its true!) so I have to push myself when times are tough to engage with the world. The loneliness comes from the depression demons that engulf me. I can be in a crowded room surrounded by wonderful people but feel as lonely as if I was by myself. There are many of you who can understand this. How often do we paste on a smile and “fake it til we make it”?
Depression makes you feel that no one else is there. It pulls you in to a vortex that takes away the ability to truly be connected with others. The walls go up and as much as you want that loneliness to go away, it’s too much work, too much effort, to try and be present in the world. Even though you know it’s not true, it seems like you are the only one who feels this way. I cannot count the times where I have been full on crying my eyes out, to the point of almost barfing, because of that. It’s as if the loneliness is coming from deep down in my gut. It engulfs every part of me. Those are scary moments. My brain will lie to me and tell me horrible things; “you’ll always be alone”, “no one likes you”, “no man is ever gonna love you”, “you are a burden to everyone”. I try to use the cognitive behavioural therapy tools I have to challenge them. I ask myself what facts support those statements? Most of the time there are none.
Don’t get me wrong, we all feel lonely at times and its part of the human experience. It’s what allows us to truly appreciate the connections we do have and trust in them. But depression loneliness is something else entirely. It tells you the world is bad and to not trust, even as you crave that connection with others. It tells you that everything is your fault, that you are flawed and that’s why no one is there. My logical mind, which I am in now, knows that this isn’t true. The other part of my mind, which is always lurking around the corner, ready to jump out if I’m not careful, is whispering something different. If you have that voice in your head too, please know I feel your pain and understand. My wish is you always remember that you are not alone.