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Reflections on Loneliness and Depression
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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