The Hidden Side of Loneliness

Updated November 2019

There are often self-help and thought-provoking statuses that appear on Facebook. Some you scroll past and some you read right to the end then feel a little bit cheated that it’s a copy and paste post. Some you realise are shared posts but you can appreciate that people are just trying to do their bit but don’t know quite know how to say it with their own words. And then there are some hit you right where they’re meant to.

This is an original post from a friend of mine, written totally from the heart. She kindly offered it to me for publication here on my blog as she felt it would fit into the ethos of Tea and Cake for the Soul.

Have a read and see what you think.

person walking along a road surrounded by bare trees and frost field
photo credit Rene Asmussen

“For the last few weeks, I’ve seen lots of posts about helping the elderly who are alone, or helping the homeless or helping children whose families are hard up at this festive time, and it’s lovely to see that people care about them.

The thing is that I can’t help wondering about those people the other 364 days a year.  Does one act of charity clear a conscience?  Does anyone think about “those poor people” after they perform their annual act of kindness?  I suspect not.

What about the invisible people who suffer quietly all year round?

The ones like the lady next door who never has any visitors except the postman?  She’s also the lady who sits alone day after day feeling invisible to everyone, and wishing that she felt that someone actually cared if she lived or died.

What about the young man down the street? Yeah, the one you hear shouting to his demons at night when he wakes up from a nightmare and is terrified at what goes on inside his head.  He’s got no friends and nobody who cares about him.  He constantly thinks about suicide but doesn’t actually take the next step.  Do you know why?  Well, he’s scared it may not work, and he’ll be left in a worse state than the one he’s in already, that’s why.

That old man two doors away – you know, Mr Man who takes his dog out every day at the same time.  Well, he’s got a dog for company hasn’t he, so he can’t be lonely or isolated; can he?

What about the friend you have on Facebook, the one who’s always online and jumps on your comments instantly any time day or night.  She struggles with her mental health on a daily basis, but she’s got a car, so she’s okay isn’t she?, I mean, she can go out any time she likes, can’t she?  Have you ever asked her?  If you did, she’d tell you that she can’t cope with crowds of people anymore, the noise of people talking, traffic noise, doors slamming, phones ringing all hurt her head and she can’t deal with it so she stays indoors to avoid making herself ill.  She keeps the car so she doesn’t have to use public transport, and if she does have to go somewhere, she goes by car so she can escape quickly and more easily.

I bet you never wondered about the Nurse up the road, did you?  She’s not actually a Nurse – she just let you think that in case you see her around during the day, and she hopes you’ll assume she works shifts and that she’s okay.  Take a second look at her and you’ll see that she never leaves her house.  Her shopping gets delivered, along with everything else she needs.  She’s another lonely isolated person who slipped through the net.  She never bothers going to her GP as she doesn’t trust him, and he’s got no time to care about her anyway, after all, she must be ok otherwise she’d say so wouldn’t she?

If you’ve got this far, I bet you’re wondering what the point of all these words are aren’t you?

They aren’t real people, are they?

Actually, they are, they’re all me.”

© Joanna Mitchell 2018

Your thoughts are welcome in the comments below, especially if you have any ideas of how to help combat loneliness and isolation or more ways to raise awareness. We never really know what’s going on in someone else’s head do we?

Loneliness and isolation often go hand in hand with mental illness, although not always. If that is the case with you or a loved one, you may like to read my series Self Help for Your Mental Health which covers various aspects of mental health and includes lots of useful links to professional and charitable organisations.

11 thoughts on “The Hidden Side of Loneliness

  1. The other day in the post office the lady in front of me was chatting away for ages with the women behind the counter. I was in a bit of a rush as my mum was waiting in the car and at first I admit that I was getting a little agitated at the time she was taking. Then I thought, that poor lady has no one else to talk to! The post office assistant is probably one of the only people she chats to each week. Who am I to begrudge her a little bit of company? After she left the assistant apologised for keeping me waiting, she said the lady went in every week and put the world to rights. I’ve got to admit a felt a little teary.
    I have to say, I’m the one who talks to anybody. I love having a chat! In a queue, in a lift, anywhere really, because you never know who just needs someone to say hello or I love your top or your nails are pretty. It might not mean much to you but it could mean the world to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We went for a carvery on Monday and the guy behind us started chatting non stop. I could see my husband rolling his eyes but said the same, we might be the only people he talks to all week.

      Everyone is in such a rush now aren’t they, no time for community or being neighbourly.


  2. What a great post. It’s so true, we never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Perhaps we should all learn to take even just a couple of minutes to smile and say hello to people. We can’t expect people to open up, but at least they know we’re there and care. Kindness…the world needs a bit more kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great share. I know loneliness is a huge factor in declining health, especially for the elderly. I don’t know what the answer is but I really do think we need new approaches to this issue. I really loved Channel 4’s Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds – a novel way to combat loneliness and enhance connection.

    Liked by 1 person

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