When living with depression, it’s common to feel alone no matter how many people we have around us. It can be painful. It can be difficult to understand. How can we possibly feel so lonely in a room filled with the people who matter the most to us? But we do feel lonely. We feel completely alone. We’re not alone in feeling this way. Many of us with depression experience exactly the same feeling.
WE HAVE LOW SELF-CONFIDENCE
We often struggle with low self-confidence. This means that we are constantly aware of how much space we’re taking up. We want to shrink and hide away. This preoccupies us so much that we struggle to think about anything else. We feel unable to join in with conversations because we don’t think we have anything useful to add. It often leaves us making many trips to the toilet, standing next to the wall, or hiding in the kitchen – trying to take up less space and to not stand out.
WE FORGET HOW TO COMMUNICATE
Depression often leaves us avoiding social situations. Our worlds can shrink until the only people we speak to are chemists, health professionals, and supermarket cashiers. We talk about our moods and health but not a lot else.
When we’re then in a social situation (even if it’s with our favourite people), we feel as though we’ve forgotten how to communicate. We’re completely out of the loop.
Our loved ones make conversation look so easy, and yet we haven’t got a clue where to start. Often, they might as well be talking in a different language for all the sense it makes to us. This can result in us feel separate, different, and completely alone.
WE STRUGGLE TO KEEP UP
Depression can slow everything down. This includes our speech, or thinking, and our processing. Sometimes, we struggle to follow conversations because the speed that people are talking is too fast for our brains to cope with. This can be stressful because we find ourselves unable to keep up with those around us. We fear someone asking us a question, because we’ve usually missed chunks of conversation and don’t quite know what everyone’s talking about. This inability to keep up, can cause us to feel even silenced and even more distant from those around us.
OUR BRAIN’S FILL UP WITH ‘SHOULDS’
It’s hard to avoid comparing ourselves to those around us. It’s also hard not to compare past versions of ourselves to how we are in the present. All sorts of ‘shoulds’ pipe up. We ‘should’ feel happy. We ‘should’ feel loved. We ‘should’ be able to talk to people easily, just like we used to.
All these ‘shoulds’ make us feel worse. They highlight the things that we’re not. We don’t know why we can’t feel the warmth of friendship that we’d have felt in the same situation a year ago. We don’t know why we feel so different and separate. We don’t know why we can’t function like everyone else in the room.
This can increase the distance that we feel from those around us, which can cause us to feel even more alone.
WE FEEL DISCONNECTED
We feel disconnected. From the spot we’re standing on. From the glass we’re holding. From the other people in the room. It’s almost as if we’re floating above the room sometimes. Or physically we’re standing in the room, but mentally we’re in a completely different place. As much as we try to ‘get ourselves back in the room’, sometimes it feels like an impossible task. We just can’t get our heads on the ground and engage. This level of disconnection can make the gap between us and our favourite people even wider. We feel utterly alone because we don’t feel able to connect with anyone, or anything, that we’re sharing a room with.
WE FEEL NUMB
Most people feel many different emotions when they see their loved ones. Depression can steal our feelings and replace them with a big bundle of nothing. It’s as though we’re completely numb. We watch everyone smiling and laughing (or sometimes arguing), but it can feel like there’s a huge wedge of glass between us and them. We don’t know why we can’t feel. We don’t know why we don’t feel warm when they hug us. We just feel nothing. It’s a lonely place to be.
It’s so hard to feel alone, no matter who we’re with. But we aren’t alone. There are many others who feel exactly the same way. It can get better. It won’t always be this way.
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