Mental Health Awareness Week 2022
I don’t think I will ever forget the feeling of shame I felt when realising I was lonely. Many years ago I moved to a beautiful rural area with my partner and to the outside world it looked like the ‘ideal’ life. My partner and I had a good relationship, but I would spend many hours on my own whilst he was at work. I met many lovely people who were very welcoming but there was no one around who knew ‘me’, who knew who ‘I’ was. At first I thought I was homesick after moving away from family and friends, but as my mental health kept declining further, I realised it was loneliness I was feeling.
As the loneliness deepened, I started experiencing anxiety and depression. I couldn’t sleep properly and felt tearful all the time. I wanted to talk to someone and yet felt I should hide how I was feeling. If family and friends asked how I was, I always said ‘fine.’ I knew they would have loved the opportunity to live in an idyllic setting and felt I would sound ungrateful if I admitted how I did feel. This meant that not only was I feeling lonely but also began to feel ashamed of feeling lonely. I felt as if I was being ungrateful for living where I was. I also didn’t want to hurt the people around me, in the rural community, by saying I was lonely. I felt as if I would sound ungrateful after they had been so lovely and welcoming. This further embedded loneliness and shame together. It was even harder to admit it to my partner because I knew how much he would worry; however, he knew something was wrong and as I found out later, he worried more, because he was having to guess what was causing me to feel so low.
The more I tried to hide the feelings of loneliness from everyone, the lonelier I felt. It was a never-ending cycle.
Loneliness is nothing to feel ashamed of. There are many different reasons a person can feel lonely. Talking to a counsellor helped me to explore how I was feeling, process my emotions and learn techniques to help me cope with anxiety and depression and improve my sleeping pattern.
Relate provides counselling for individuals, couples, and families. Having a safe, non-judgemental space to explore thoughts, feelings and process emotions, can be a huge step in moving forward.
Relate Bradford & Leeds