Anyone who has suffered from depression has endured the agonizing loneliness that goes along with it. There are no easy solutions to these feelings because having someone there doesn’t wash away the emptiness we feel inside. It isn’t simply a case of saying “I am lonely” because we desire having someone there at our side. We feel utterly and despairingly alone in the world.
Much like body dysmorphia makes people feel like their physical flaws are glaringly worse than they really are, depression magnifies all of our negative feelings, exaggerating all of our faults. Depression makes us feel like we’re broken and damaged beyond repair. We know all our flaws because they stand out to us like beacons, reminding us of all that is inherently wrong about ourselves. We are our own worst critics and are skilled at tearing ourselves apart. We feel like a mistake, like there is no place in the world we belong. We feel like nobody understands how we feel inside. We feel completely alone.
Even when we’re with other people, we still feel alone. No matter where we go or who we are with, we are forever wishing to disappear because we feel completely out of place. We laugh uncomfortably and force ourselves to smile to reassure others that we are having fun, yet it always feels transparent and fake. More often, we sit silently because we don’t want to bother anyone or make their life harder. We’re so afraid of being judged or rejected that we can never truly be ourselves. The entire time we’re out, we usually are second guessing our decision to go and wishing we were back home because we know we do not belong.
Though we feel alone even when you’re there, a minute after you leave, the loneliness is even worse. Having someone there, whether for a few hours or a few days, magnifies our loneliness after you leave. The silence and emptiness is glaring. We use that time to beat ourselves up for not trying harder when you were there. We wonder if you’ll come by again, though we understand if you did not. We wouldn’t want ourselves as company so why would anyone else?
Friends and loved ones may say they’ll always be there but we have trouble believing it. We have huge abandonment issues. We’ve been hurt, abandoned, cheated on and lied to by virtually everyone we have ever let into our hearts and our lives so we have a hard time believing that you’re any different. We’re forever waiting for the other shoe to drop because we know it’s only a matter of time before you’re gone, too. Regardless of all the promises we’ve been given throughout the years, we always end up alone.
We often put up walls and isolate. When people hurt us, we isolate because the pain overwhelms us. When our lives are at their lowest, we isolate because we don’t want anyone to see us as that horrible mess we know that we are. We isolate when others are having a good time, not out of jealousy but because we don’t know how to be happy ourselves and don’t want to ruin anyone else’s day. We isolate to beat ourselves up for making mistakes, and because we feel people would be better off without us in their lives. We pull away from everyone and hide by ourselves because we not only don’t feel we belong in this world, but that we honestly don’t deserve to be in it.
We do not want to be alone. We do not enjoy feeling this way. This loneliness eats at us minute after minute, day after day. We reach out to friends and family, looking for things to do, wishing and praying someone will find the time for us. We make excuses for people to come by and to stay extra when it’s time to leave. Each rejection we get is an affirmation to us that we are unwanted, each cancellation reassures us that no one wants to be there. When we don’t hear back from you, we feel forgotten.
We want so badly for someone not only to say they understand but to sincerely mean it. We want someone who will show us patience, compassion and acceptance. We want someone who will see us for the person we are underneath and not for the broken, damaged shell of a person we feel we are. We want someone to wrap their arms around us and reassure us that we’re loved, we’re wanted and that we’ll be okay. We want someone who will truly always be there and not just offer us lip service then go away. We want to feel like there’s a place for us among our family, our friends and our loved ones. We want to feel we belong in life.
When I talk about this deeply despairing loneliness, I speak in terms of “we” because these feelings are common for anyone suffering from depression. We feel broken, insignificant, irrelevant, and out of place. We feel unwanted, unloved, misunderstood and forgotten. We walk around every day in a cloud of numbness and emptiness, feeling like we do not belong anywhere. We want more than anything to not feel alone anymore. Unfortunately, we’ve felt this way for so long that we don’t know how to feel anything else.
Republished on EmpowHER on 8/23/16.
Republished on The Mighty on 8/23/16.
Republished on Your Tango on 11/21/16.