Loneliness is a Real A$$hole
Eating disorders and many other mental illnesses are filled with a whole lot of loneliness. Even completely sane and healthy people suffer from loneliness.
I have always been a people person, very outgoing and always want to get to know people. When I had my eating disorder I put on a very good front. I still went out, but I had a hard time enjoying anything. I felt alone. I felt isolated because not only was I disappointed in myself, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling. I didn’t want to burden anyone with the idea that I didn’t have all my ducks in a row. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone else because I was already so disappointed in myself. I never wanted to come up short when it came to meeting societal norms or expectations of others.
I loved school growing up, I was good at it. I received "A" grades my whole life with the exception of 2 "B's" one in Geometry in 7th grade and the other in History 110 at SDSU. (No bitterness at all, cough cough). I always played sports, as well. Softball, golf, soccer, swimming, I was always doing something. Although I enjoyed it, I put massive amounts of pressure on myself for no good reason. My parents were already proud of me just for being a good human being. It was my perfectionist personality that led me to think I was never good enough.
Although I have always had a lot of friends and considered myself part of the "popular" crowd, I was bullied growing up. I will never forget in 6th grade as we ran the fun run, three boys stood at the top of the hill before I headed down for my last run around the track "MOOing" at me. It made me feel awful. One of my best friends nicknamed me "Meaty" from fifth grade until I was in high school, obviously not one of my best friends now. I think the negative talk and teasing led me to believe I was bigger than I actually was.
When you get teased or bullied you feel alone. When you have an eating disorder you feel alone. When you have depression you feel even more alone. Loneliness and mental illness go hand in hand.
Before I left for traveling, I hated to be alone. I never wanted to be alone with my own thoughts. I wanted to keep busy and socialize so people thought I was okay and being social gave that bit of distraction from what was going on in my mind. When I was in the car I needed to be talking to someone on the phone and even when I was with people, I was always texting on my phone chatting to someone. Even leading myself through my own flow was difficult because I was alone, I always preferred to go to a yoga studio and surround myself with others.
When I left for traveling it forced me to be alone with my thoughts. I picked up journaling and made a point to do it almost every day whether it be on a long train ride or whenever I had some downtime. Journaling became my therapy. It was a way for me to write down all of my sporadic thoughts, whether they be good, bad, ugly, funny, happy, uncomfortable or depressing. Journaling allows me to write down the raw emotions and truth to how I am feeling without judgement. It was a way to express myself without the fear of having people find out about my demons.
Traveling alone taught me how to be confident in myself and how to be okay being on my own. I fell in love with life more and more each day because I was slowly accepting who I was, what I had been through and I was getting healthier by the minute. My favorite thing traveling taught me is you’re never really alone. You could be lightyears away from your family, friends and anything familiar, but you can still manage to find a connection with someone on the bus or in a hostel. You are never alone because there's always going to be someone around you that is human too. In the end, we are all human.
Lately with everything going on in my life, I’ve felt unbelievably alone. Grief is a strange rollercoaster and all I want to do is get off. I want to wake up from this nightmare. I have always been a positive person, but I am having a hard time finding joy in things that I used to love to do. I can't focus when I practice yoga. I suffer through walks on the beach trail. I don’t even enjoy being around people as I feel like I'm forcing myself to have conversation, something that normally comes naturally.
I have felt unbelievably anxious and like no one understands what I am going through. When I get down to the nitty gritty details of the whole situation not many people will understand. Almost everyone has lost someone they love, but many people don't lose their loved ones to suicide. Although my support system can't level with me completely on how I am feeling, they do love me and they want to support me and that’s what I have to keep reminding myself. I will continue to surround myself with people that love me, positive things and beautiful places and with time I will begin to see the beauty of this life again. Each day is different and I'm embracing every single one of them.
Loneliness is a normal feeling. If you are feeling alone, reach out to a friend, family member, a perfect stranger, ANYONE. It's important to ask for support when you need it most. We all have our ups and downs. We are all human after all.