TRIGGER WARNING: Talks about mental health issues and bullying.
Growing up as a young person was a very isolating and lonely time for me. A lot of the focus was on my siblings, their successes, and issues, rather than mine. They always tell you that parents do not have favourites, but the attention my siblings received versus me was really upsetting – it felt like such an enormous difference. I always felt like such an inconvenience in my own home.
I was bullied as a teenager, so I really withdrew from making friends, it was scary. Most of my time was spent taking care of my family, I didn’t really have a social life and it was around the age of 11/12 when I really started to see my mental health decline. I spent a lot of time away from family unless I was needed to help, and I never really socialised with anybody because I felt I could not trust anyone.
I admittedly spent a lot of time in and out of psychiatrist impatient facilities due to my mental health as a teenager, missing a lot of school, not forming meaningful friendships- all I really knew was counsellors, doctors, psychiatrists, and the inside of hospitals. It was so difficult and distressing, there was a constant feeling of abandonment and fearing it would be that way forever.
What I wish I had known…
Nobody explained to me the loneliness that comes from mental illness, it is not something you expect to have to deal with at my age; how isolating your thoughts can be and the level of distrust it causes you to have of yourself and of others. It always felt easier to be alone then explain the pain I was going through, the thoughts I was having and how utterly lost I felt on this earth sometimes.
I wish the resources that are available to young people now, were available 10 years ago. There is still such a stigma around mental health for all ages, but there are now many more amazing resources available, and people to listen to the struggles of young people suffering which fight that stigma, to make not being okay definitely okay.
I would encourage all young people struggling, to please reach out to somebody if you are feeling lonely, even if it just is to let them know the feelings you are having, so your voice is heard, and your feelings are acknowledged. People are there to help, to support or even just listen to you.
My reality and what I am doing now…
As a 23-year-old still working on her mental health, believe me when I say loneliness is real, and such a heavy thing. Anyone can suffer with loneliness, and it can strike at any given moment. As I currently live with depression, anxiety, and PTSD; I still find it can be so difficult not to let those feelings of loneliness win. I am still working on finding peace in being alone with myself, but I have a great wealth of support around me now and the world feels a lot brighter.
To all the young people out there, please know there is hope, there is help and there is always somebody willing to listen to you.
Today’s guest blogger Charlotte, 23, talks frankly and openly about her experiences with mental health during her teenage years up to now and how loneliness has played a bit part in that.
Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health and we need to find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness. We can all play a part in this.
So, in May 2022, we will be raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.
Reducing loneliness is a major step towards a mentally healthy society.
Dorset Mind offers group support that can also help with your wellbeing. The group offers peer support and helps to reduce stigma by normalizing conversations about mental health. You can also check out further support for stress and mental health here.