Chronic Loneliness: The Depression Symptom We Aren't Talking About

It has taken me seven years to figure out what is wrong with me. Chronic loneliness. It sounds silly, yet something has been drawing me to research the topic more. I first heard about the negative effects of loneliness through Wentworth Miller‘s Facebook page. He had posted a TED Talks video during his “self-care” month, and because I was lying in bed and feeling a bit down myself, I watched it.

It didn’t hit me at the time, but it did this past week when I showed the video to my class of eighth graders and had them reflect on the video. Hearing the effects loneliness can have on a person five times in one day can start to sink in. So I did a bit more reading on it, and I realized maybe this is something I should take notice of.

So chronic loneliness. When I was finishing up college, my parents announced they were moving across the state for my dad’s work. I would no longer have the home I grew up in and the small town that was familiar. My dad thought I would be happy because I always said how much I hated my small town and wanted out. Well, yes, but I also always wanted to believe it was there for me to come back to as a place to call home. Some friends were still there, memories were there, my childhood was there. But literally, you could basically fold the state of Pennsylvania in half to match up where I grew up to where they were going. Not being able to find a job right after college, I soon moved as well to live with my parents for about a year before finding a permanent teaching position.

This is when loneliness first really reared its ugly head. After college, I had lost a huge support system I wasn’t even aware of at the time. There was always someone around — a friend, roommate, neighbor, stranger at the table next to me. I was making new friends and acquaintances weekly it seemed. And of course my roommates and close friends were something I took for granted at the time. I found that whenever I had a setback in life, I didn’t have the close connections I once had to help me through life’s disappointments. Anxiety and depression set in, and I tried to fill the void in my life with anything I could.

So what does one do when faced with a long, bleak road of loneliness? You can be surrounded by people all day and still not feel a real connection with anyone. Loneliness isn’t about being alone — it’s about feeling secure in your day-to-day relationships. I miss that feeling of not always looking over my shoulder or feeling like I need to keep my guard up. I want to let my guard down.

I wonder how many other people feel this way. I’m at an age now where I want to meet people, make close connections, but I find myself feeling lethargic when it comes to interacting with others. I would rather Netflix than follow through on that date I made a few days ago. It becomes more and more difficult to get out of that slump I have fallen into, and I just keep sliding down the terrain.

Anyway – here’s a great video (the one I mentioned before) to watch: “Taking Care of Our Emotional Health.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty Images photo via Grandfailure

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Depression

The Lies I Tell Because of My Mental Illness

I read a line in the book “Niceville”by Carsten Stroud a couple weeks ago, and the line is still stuck in my head. “It was just that lying to somebody was a sort of cowardice, like you couldn’t handle what they might do if you gave it to them straight.” So we lie to benefit [...]
young redhead woman covering mouth with hands

What ‘Sarahah’ Made Me Realize About Silence and Mental Health

The stigma surrounding mental health speaks volumes, while those who struggle with mental illnesses feel as though they need to keep silent. If you take a moment to look around and observe the people around you, do you wonder what is going on in their heads? I don’t ever really talk about my anxiety and [...]
illustration of a woman peeking behind a wall. Her dress is the same color as the wall paper, so she blends in

Finding Routine After Suicidality

It’s been a little over a year since I left the hospital. I know I have made progress, but every day is a struggle. It is a struggle to do what everyone else seems to do without thinking — wake up, get ready, go to work, be a dependable partner, take care of the kids, [...]
split image of gunfight at the OK corall and breaking bad

What These Fictional Characters Made Me Realize About Depression

I am not proud of it. A few weeks ago, and for the first time in many decades, I unpredictably dipped into a depression that, to put it mildly, kicked my ass. Ha-Ha, I’m joking. Actually, I’m not. For the most part, throughout my life, my mental health issues have stemmed from severe anxiety and [...]