Anyone who has struggled with depression has experienced agonizing loneliness. Having someone there doesn’t change the emptiness we feel inside. It isn’t simply that we are lonely because we desire to have someone there at our side. We believe we are utterly and despairingly alone in the world.
Much like body dysmorphia sufferers feel like their physical flaws are glaringly worse than they really are, depression magnifies and exaggerates all of our negative feelings and faults. Depression convinces us that we’re broken and damaged beyond repair. We are intimately aware of our flaws because they shine like beacons, illuminating all that is inherently wrong about ourselves. We are skilled at tearing ourselves apart because we are our own worst critics. We feel like we don't belong in the world we belong. We are a mistake. We believe that nobody could understand how we feel. No matter who is physically around, we are convinced that we're completely alone.
Even when others are with us, we still feel alone. It does not matter where we go or who we are with, we feel completely out of place. We always wish we could disappear. We might force smiles and laugh uncomfortably to reassure others that we are having fun, yet it is a mask we wear that feels transparent and fake. We often sit silently because we don’t want to be a bother or make anyone's life harder. We are petrified that if we let anyone see who we truly are underneath our mask, we'll be judged or rejected. From the moment we go out until the minute we return home, we are feeling out of place and are second guessing whether we should have gone at all.
As lonely as we feel when you’re there, the moment you leave, the loneliness is even worse. Whether you are there for a few hours or a few days, your departure magnifies our loneliness. The silence and emptiness is deafening. We beat ourselves up for not trying harder when you were there. Though we wish you would come by again, we cannot imagine you'd ever want to return. We wouldn’t want to be around ourselves so why would anyone else?
We always doubt friends and loved ones that promise they’ll always be there. We have a history of abandonment issues. We’ve been hurt, discarded, cheated on and lied to by virtually everyone we have ever trusted so we have a hard time believing that things could ever be different. We know it’s only a matter of time before you’re gone, too, so we’re forever waiting for the other shoe to drop. We always end up alone regardless of the promises we're given.
We often isolate and put up emotional walls. When we are hurt, we isolate because we are overwhelmed by the pain. We isolate when we are feeling low because we don’t want anyone to see us as that horrible mess we believe ourselves to be. When others are having a good time, we isolate not out of jealousy but because we don’t know how to be happy ourselves and don’t want to spoil your fun. We beat ourselves up for making mistakes so we pull away to save others from having to deal with us. We hide by ourselves because we not only don’t feel we belong in this world, but that we honestly don’t even deserve to be a part of it.
We do not want to be alone and do not enjoy feeling this way. These feelings eat at us every minute of every day. We reach out for things to do, hoping someone will find the time for us. We make excuses for people to visit and to stay extra when it’s time to leave. Each time we are rejected, it is an affirmation that we are unwanted, each cancellation reminds us that we are truly alone. When you don't return our calls or messages, we feel forgotten.
We want so badly for others to say they understand and sincerely mean it. We want to be shown patience, compassion and acceptance. We want to be seen for the person we are underneath and not for the broken, damaged shell of a person we believe ourselves to be. We want reassurance that we’re loved, we’re wanted and that we’ll be okay. We want to believe someone will always be there and not just offer us empty promises then leave. We want to feel we belong among our family, our friends and our loved ones. We want to belong in life.
When I discuss this deeply despairing loneliness, I use the term “we” because these feelings are common with depression. We all feel damaged and broken, insignificant and irrelevant. We feel unwanted and unloved, discarded and forgotten. We spend every day in a cloud of numbness and emptiness, feeling like we do not belong in this world. We would give anything to not feel this loneliness anymore. Unfortunately, we’ve felt alone for so long that we don’t know how to feel any other way.
This blog originally appeared at https://unlovablebook.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/the-loneliness-of-depression/ and has been edited and rewritten specifically for EmpowHer.
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