Reflections on Loneliness and Depression

Yours Truly
Yours Truly

INTRODUCTION

This is a page which explores through a few short essays the emotions and behaviour patterns which accompany the clinical state of depression, as well as one of its most prevalent, pernicious causative factors - the experience of being lonely.

I hope the page is not too depressing; all issues of this kind are easier to bear when the problem is understood and shared by others. And despite the truth that the subject is close to my heart, I did actually enjoy putting my thoughts down on paper - it is so much better than bottling them up!


LEAVING A MESS AROUND THE HOUSE


Loneliness and depression lead to a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of motivation, a lack of energy, a lack of care, a lack of self-respect.



Today I will clean and tidy the house.

But first I will drink coffee and watch television. It's an easier option. And while I watch television, I can think about the cleaning and tidying. There's certainly plenty to do.

There is paperwork; bills to pay, letters to reply to. But they are not urgent. They can wait a day or two. Yesterday's newspaper remains on the coffee table. The carpet hasn't been vacuum cleaned for months, but it's only dust. The dust has also gathered on the table tops, the chairs, and the cupboards, but cleaning them is a chore which I don't feel inclined to bother with. I'm not expecting any guests; not this month anyway, and probably not next, so it's only me who will see the squalor, and I can live with it. There is a spider crawling cross the carpet. Should I move it? Why not leave it? It’s not doing anyone any harm. It’s got its own life to live, its own needs to forage for food, to find a partner. It’s living in its own little world, as I am living in mine. In the kitchen the used dinner plate remains on the counter, and upstairs I know the washing to be done lies strewn on the bedroom floor, whilst the laundry basket stays empty.

Cleaning and tidying will take time, and it will take me away from the television which is nice to watch. And maybe I won't have time to clean anyway because I may decide to go out into town. I'll think about it whilst I watch the television.

I see a candy wrapper on the floor the other side of the coffee table. But to throw it away means getting up out of my chair; so I guess it can wait.

Maybe I won't go out. there's no one to go out with, and I'm tired, and I'd need to smarten up, and I'd rather watch the television. There's some repeats coming on that I've only seen a couple times this year, and I'd like to watch them again.

Another day ends.

Tomorrow I will clean and tidy the house.


FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK


Loneliness and depression lead to a clutching at straws of friendship. The Internet offers the straws to clutch.



I have 138 friends. I guess I am so lucky. I have friends all over the world, of all kinds I think; rich and poor, young and old, Muslim, Christian, Jew. 138 today - that’s one more than yesterday, 5 more than last week. I have more friends today than many people have in their entire lives. Indeed, many people in the remote jungles of the world or those who lived in the smallest villages of the Europe of the Middle Ages may never even have met more than 138 human beings in their entire lives. I am truly blessed.

And then someone new requests my friendship. How nice to be wanted! I respond immediately. She lives in New Jersey, so many thousands of miles away so we will never meet, but no matter. She is another friend. I now have 139 friends. Of course I wouldn’t recognise them if I passed them in the street. And some of them I wouldn’t want to. But they are still friends.

I sit alone at the computer in my room, surrounded by near silence; the only sounds the muffled drone of traffic in the street beyond the closed curtains, and the laughter of somebody’s children playing in the distance, and the occasional beep beep of incoming messages on the computer screen. And each message is warmly received; it signals another soul with nothing better to do with their time. It makes me feel less alone to know there is another like me. I check my e-mails just in case someone has sent me one, I surf the internet reading gossip, and I check out the latest offerings on YouTube and Twitter, and all the time Facebook hovers in the cyberspace background and I’ll sometimes scan the profiles of my friends and read the messages they’ve sent to their other friends, who might one day also be my friends.

Time passes slowly in my quiet room as I wait patiently for another beep, and another contact with the world outside, and maybe the arrival of my 140th friend who doesn’t know me and doesn’t care about me.


LOSING A LOVE, BUT NEVER THE MEMORY


Loneliness and depression lead to a preoccupation of the mind with the good things in life which have been lost, and accentuates the sadness of loss.



She was so sweet, so gentle, so pretty. My girl.

She was my reason for being, she was the sentiments which flooded my heart in her presence, and the thoughts which filled my mind in her absence. She was the reason to exist, and the reason to continue to exist in the future. She was my soul mate, my life, my everything.

But now she is gone. The reasons do not matter. What matters is that she is gone, and she took with her a part of me which can never be replaced. It does not matter what happens in the future, how prosperous I may become, how well I may live, how completely I occupy my time. How can I live on in the knowledge that the single greatest part of my life is gone?

So now I sit alone with only my thoughts and memories for company, nothing to take her out from my mind, nothing to replace her in my heart. I have nothing left to think about, no one else to think of.


A CROWDED ROOM AND A FUN PARTY


Loneliness and depression lead to a sense of isolation, a feeling of self-consciousness, a sense of being unwanted, and a destructive desire to be alone. Loneliness can be at its most acute, when you are least alone.



Bright, loud, exciting, vibrant; the room buzzes with the sounds of laughter and music and chatter, and the colour of dancing lights, and the antics of the extroverts who make their presence felt, determined to have fun, and make everyone else have fun.

I sit in a corner. I smile so people think I’m having fun. Occasionally I get up and walk to the bar, just to make it seem like I’m a part of the event, and I’ll take a drink so I have something to do with my hands, something to hold, so it doesn’t just look like I’m sitting, frozen solid, a dummy, a killjoy. Or I wander out and wander in again, just to release the tension building in my heart.

Depression is a private affair, not public. The loneliness of an isolated soul in a crowded room, the discomfort and pain on show for all to see - better by far to be alone in your own private home in your own private world where your thoughts are private, where you can occupy your time with the entertainments you feel comfortable with, switch on the television or read a book.


THE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING


Loneliness and depression lead to insomnia, a sense of hopelessness, and a feeling of despair about insurmountable problems.



It is 3 o’clock in the morning. Everything is silent. And dark. I lay in bed alone and I am awake. I have been awake all night. The sleeping pill didn't work. I have twisted and turned and I have risen to get a drink, but now I lie in bed once more, still trying to sleep. Problems always appear deeper and more difficult to resolve in the small hours of the night than they do in the daytime. Why is that, I wonder?

It is 4 o’clock in the morning. I lay and churn the issues round and round in my head, and I don’t want to because they are keeping me awake and I know it. I try to think of something else, something happy and optimistic. I try to imagine an adventure in which I will be the centre of attention, and the focus of adulation, or I try to fantasise about a chance encounter with a girl who will bring love and happiness; but I am too awake for such fanciful dreams to be real. The problems come back to haunt me and occupy my mind once more, and I can’t stop it happening, and the brain that I want to drift into unconsciousness remains in overdrive.

It is now 5 o’clock in the morning. Daylight is fast approaching and I have not slept. I try to close my mind to everything, to grab a couple of hours shut eye before rising for the day’s work. It fills me with frustration and depression that my night of rest and recuperation is being wasted, and that it is now too late to benefit from sleep.

But now the dawn is breaking. I can hear the first birdsong of the dawn chorus through the window. Bright daylight will soon be streaming through the bedroom window and will be upon me. A new sunny day will bring a rejuvenated sense of optimism. I know this. I know that the turmoil of trying to fathom out dark and hopeless problems will resolve in the light of day. I know that the insurmountable will suddenly feel surmountable. I drift gently into sleep.


LIVING FOR THE PRESENT


Loneliness and depression lead to a life full of regrets about what was, and what might have been, and a life of worries about what may be in the future.



The past is a place of pleasures and regrets. The pleasures from the good times. The regrets for the good times which have gone, and regrets for the missed opportunities and for the loved ones and friends who were lost and who I wish were still here. Is it better to have good memories or bad memories?

  • Good memories make you wish with all your heart that you might once again experience those good times, those loved ones - a wish which you know cannot come true because that time is gone. They make you sad.
  • Bad memories make you regret that you didn’t make more of the past, live life to the full. They make you sad.

The future is a place to which I do not wish to go. Alone, no family, no career, no future without loneliness. Nothing to hope for as age begins to drag you down. A place of fear and trepidation. An empty road with nothing on the horizon.

The present is where I wish to live. You cannot regret the present because nothing is yet done to bring on regret. You cannot fear the present because it is already here, upon us. One can be positive, take a different road - one with a horizon worth aiming for. I wake each day to a clean, untarnished present. A present in which I can change things. A present with a future.


IF ANY OF THESE ESSAYS STRIKE A CHORD WITH YOU, PLEASE LET ME KNOW

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I'd love to hear your comments. Thanks, Alun 18 comments

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 22 months ago from Essex, UK Author

promisem; Thanks for commenting on this. There is clearly an important distinction between 'loneliness' and 'aloneness'. Indeed one can often feel more lonely in a crowd than when one is alone.

And sometimes one does crave to be alone, but no one ever craves to be lonely. I appreciate your visit Scott. Alun


promisem profile image

promisem 22 months ago

In the past I often confused loneliness and aloneness (loneliness being the desire for true companionship and aloneness being the absence of that desire).

Once I learned how to separate the two, I found that the ability to embrace aloneness became a strength. Feelings of loneliness occurred less often and were less painful.


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Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Thank you very much buddhaanalysis. Appreciated.


buddhaanalysis 2 years ago

very nice write up!!


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Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Donald; Thank you. Glad if you found something of value in my writings, but sincerely hoping loneliness or depression are not too big a part of your life.

Can I also take this opportunity to welcome you to HubPages? Alun


Donald New profile image

Donald New 2 years ago from Corpus Christi

This hub was very helpful because it's so me. Thanks Greensleeves


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Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Alan / aka jonnycomelately; similarities indeed in our lives, and maybe slightly more after reading your comment. I too am quite distrustful of Facebook, so I only use the site primarily to advertise my hubs and because its the easiest way to keep in contact with a few distant friends (real friends - not Facebook friends!) But I've never liked the site and never really become clear in my own mind as to the difference between 'feeds' 'posts' 'shares', 'likes' etc etc in terms of who can see them ('friends', friends of friends' - who knows what friends a friend has, and whether we would like that 'friend' of a friend to read what we write???) I digress. That particular essay is probably the one which has least relevance to my own life, tho' I do know how people can cling to the Internet society as a substitute for real friends, and all of these six essays do come from some distinct personal experience.

I hope and trust Alan that you are not too afflicted with issues of loneliness in any of its manifestations, and that you find ways to avoid the problem becoming too much of a burden.

I thank you very much for your comments and compliments, and am grateful for any referrals - especially for this hub, as I truly hope that these shared experiences of loneliness and depression can help some others. Alun.


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Greensleeves Hubs 3 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Thanks MsDora; 'Change comes' - Very true. Whether one's life is in a good position or a bad, one must accept change and make the best of it. If one is in a bad place, then change is to be welcomed. And if one is in a good position then change means new experiences and fresh challenges. Either way, one has to try to avoid stressing about it. Stressing about change is futile. Stressing about loneliness - if kept private and allowed to build up - only adds to the sense of loneliness. Thanks for your visit and comment. Alun.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 3 years ago from Tasmania

Alun, how is it that you reflect me so well? It's astonishing! My name is Alan. I grew up in England. Became a radiographer. I experience each of those essays of yours, so vividly, so accurately. For No. 2, Facebook scenario, not quite true now, because I find Facebook frightening..... not knowing how to fully protect myself from its insecurity. But the others....

It must be genetic, or something to do with our inherent biological makeup, surely.

I can see you have experienced Buddhism in Thailand. I did the same but in Nepal. And through Vipassana..... this helps with the loneliness, but does not dispel it. This can only be done within Me.

Thank you for your brilliant writing and the insight which fertilizes the writing. I am going to refer others to this Hub....


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Both "Leaving a mess. . . " and "A crowded room . . . " struck a nerve but they are both past experiences. Thank God, I no longer stress about loneliness. Change comes and keeps coming if we can open our minds just enough to see it.


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Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Thanks for visiting again and for your further comments Derdriu. We have to express our thoughts and feelings the best we can. I'd love to be able to compose music which can obviously be so evocative and emotional; but I can't, so words without music are the best that I can do.

Regarding 'the present' and 'the future' and speaking candidly, I do find I fear and worry about my future, but I also know that it is within my power to change that future through my actions today. That helps keep me going, day by day.

Your thoughts are always lucid and always appreciated Derdriu.


Derdriu 5 years ago

Greensleeves Hubs: I think that it often helps to find expression for thoughts and feelings, either through ourselves or through others. One person may not be able to retrieve the words or the pictures from within but their great contribution is their appreciation, understanding, and recognition of those feelings as conveyed in words, music, or images by another person.

For example, my sister is artistic and poetic so she expresses her concerns in words and images and says that she is stalled until her concerns are translated into the material world. On the other hand, I tend to say to myself, "I'm feeling existential today," and plunge into reading, researching, gardening, listening to music, etc. And yet I relate to creative wellsprings in others, and I appreciate those expressions very much.

"Breaking the ice" at parties is sometimes a concern even for extroverts. It meant a lot to me when Marlo Thomas shared her discomfort.

I found the entire piece to be a believable, familiar progression, which may be repeated again and again. The transference from darkness to light occurred subtly and credibly. Coming back to the present moment is empowering, because that's where change happens.

It is a gift to be able to release these descriptions which are clear and perceptive.


Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Oh Derdriu, thanks so much for such a warm and generous tribute. I must confess I haven't read 'The Bell Jar', but of course I know of Sylvia Plath, so any comparison of any kind is extremely flattering.

I guess it does make it much easier to write about emotional experiences if one has actually experienced them oneself, and of course that's why I picked on these particular aspects of the subject.

As for the crowded room piece, I know how in the past - although I am still introverted - I was much more shy than I am today, and that made me feel very isolated and alone in a crowded room. I always wanted to go to parties, because I wanted to try to make friends, but so often I'd end up feeling more and more uncomfortable and tense when I was there, and just wishing I could be somewhere else.

Thanks for your final comments. I do believe it helps if people understand that their discomfort is not unique, and that it is shared by many others.

And thanks also for appreciating that I did try to finish the last two pieces on a slightly more positive note!


Derdriu 5 years ago

Greensleeves Hubs: With these poetic reflections, you have equalled or surpassed what Sylvia Plath accomplished in "The Bell Jar". So many beautiful works of art, so many poignant poems and prose, so many sensitive pieces of music, and so much great research have all ensued from minds and hearts besieged by loneliness and depression. It's amazing, isn't it, that so much wisdom, so many empathic thoughts/feelings, and so much tragedy and comedy are produced from those dark spaces in the human mind and heart?

I've never forgotten Marlo Thomas' observation many moons ago about the loneliness which sometimes beset her in a crowded room.

Here you have expressed very well the states of loneliness and depression. Your honesty, conveyed clearly and poetically, is compelling.

This truly is a tour-de-force. Many who share these feelings have not been able to make this creative leap and, if they have the fortune to come across this, will surely empathize and perhaps feel less lonely and depressed.

The progression to focusing on the present is well presented and even inspiring.

Voted up + everything else.


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Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Thank you Rob. Though I wouldn't wish depression upon anyone, it is good to know if others can relate to these kinds of situations and emotions. I often wonder if anyone else can understand what it is like, or whether I am alone with these sentiments. Wishing you well and loads of happiness.


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Robwrite 5 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Very powerful hub. As someone who has struggled with depression, I can relate to most of these articles.

Rob


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Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK Author

Thankyou for your comment, moneycop. It's appreciated


moneycop profile image

moneycop 5 years ago from JABALPUR

great effort...should be read by all...definitely works

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    Greensleeves Hubs733 Followers
    154 Articles

    This is one of several pages of original poetry, prose and reflection by this author which comment on many aspects of the human condition



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