It’s hard being alone. A lot of us struggle with it throughout life. Maybe we weren’t the popular kids in high school, or even before that. Maybe we were the nerds who got picked on, or the outcasts who were shunned. The way we dressed, or thought, or acted meant that other people didn’t spend a lot of time with us. Since this is my blog, I’ll use my own examples – from the time I was 7 until 13, my family moved every year or two. Not just small moves, either – first we moved from Ohio to England, then England to Spain, Spain to Germany, and Germany to Michigan; finally we moved from Michigan to Nebraska.
I didn’t make a lot of friends in those years. I made some friends, sure, but most of us never kept in touch, since we either had to write using snail mail or short calls with murderously expensive long-distance fees (no e-mail or cellular long distance plans, sadly). I was really introverted, and pretty smart, which made me a nerd, and being a nerd and the new kid was a bad combo. In 8th grade, I was bullied a lot, enough so that I moved from public school to a Jesuit high school
High school was actually good to me, oddly. It was all guys, so there was no trying to impress the girls, and so as a nerd I was actually valued for my brains. The thing that screwed with me in high school was my thyroid; I fell asleep in classes in the middle of the day because my metabolism just ran out of steam, and I got detention (quite a bit). Combine that with my preference for dressing in black – including combat boots and a black leather trenchcoat – and I was the rebel in my family. I pushed a lot of people away, and that didn’t get better in college.
I was so insular in college that my only friend for my first tow years was my roommate. I got to know some great people my junior and senior years, but I was also spiraling into depression, so I drove some older friends away while that was going on. And as depression got worse, I drove my school friends away, too. After college, I moved back in with my parents, who had moved to St. Louis, and I got worse; I didn’t know anyone in the area, and I rarely got to see people from college or from Omaha.
That feeling of isolation was part of what eventually drove me to my first suicide attempt. Even though, in some part of my brain, I knew I had friends and family who cared about me, I felt alone in my misery. I didn’t know anyone else who felt the way I did; my therapist at the time, while nice, was also not helping me to feel connected. I didn’t feel like there was anyone around me who understood what I was going through, and as things got worse, I didn’t have the energy to go out and look for help or company myself. Eventually I decided that I was so unworthy of any kind of company that the world would be better off without me.
But the thing I realized, after I survived, was that I was not alone, and had never been alone. When I got out of the hospital, my friends traveled from across the country to come visit me. It was something that some of them could barely afford, but they did it because I was their friend. And I knew that even though they weren’t near me physically, I wasn’t alone. It took a couple years and another suicide attempt to really hammer that home, though, and finding a community of people at Menninger and the step-down who had gone through similar experiences.
I guess the point of this is that, in this age of social media, text messaging, and VOIP, it is hard to actually be alone. I know that some people feel that way, and believe me, I understand. but there are people you can talk with. There’s Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, suicide hotlines, Skype calls from people around the world. They may not be right next door, but there are always people available to talk. Hey, I’m one of them. I’m not a licensed counselor of any kind, but I am always willing to talk; my Twitter and Facebook links are right below my bio.
You may be lonely, but I promise you that you are not alone.